By Bob Nalbandian

The Expedition
Noise Records

Recorded primarily in Germany and Greece in April 2000 during their New Aliegience Tour, this CD also includes the rare studio tracks "We Three Kings," (yes, the Christmas song) "One Day," and "We Are Not Separate." Formed in the early 90's by guitarist Thom Youngblood, this is the band's fifth release (their debut, Eternity, was released back in '95). Interestingly enough, this Florida based band's previous releases were (all released on the German label Noise) were never released domestically here in the US. Thai-blooded Norwegian vocalist Roy Khan is very powerful and melodic, yet quite annoying at times when hitting the hight notes. Surely, he's spent much of his youth listening to fellow Scandanavian melodic-metallers TNT and Rising Force. The rest of the band show obvious influence of Floridian cohorts Crimson Glory. Nevertheless, a good live recording worth the price of admission. Highlights inlude the title track; "Expedition," "The Fourth Legacy," and "Desert Reign/Nights Of Arabia.

Inside Out America

Planet X is the instrumental, progessive power-trio featuing former Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian, guitar virtuoso Tony MacAlpine and drummer etraordinaire Virgil Donati. Universe is the follow-up to Sherinian's solo effort of last year (oddly enough, titled "Planet X") and proves to be a much more confident and well-thoughtout progression. Recorded at Derek's home studio, the Leopard Room, this self-produced CD was recorded flawlessly. Technically intricate yet surprisingly powerful, this disc features eleven instrumental gems including "Clonus" "King Of The Universe," and "Pods Of Trance." Admittedly, I'm not a musician nor a big fan of progressive, instrumental, or fusion music (quite honestly, it bores the shit out of me), but Sherinian and crew seem to pack a certain punch while maintaining unsurpassed musicianship with intricate power, making this record much interesting and enjoyable than the majority of fusion/prog-metal releases. Universe is quite universal in that it should appease fans of Yes and Kansas as well as fans of Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and Dream Theater.

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