Heavy Reign Reviews

Also see: e-Progeny CD

From: "upnsm0ke" <>
HEAVY REIGN ~ *Ram's Rock* (1996); Guitars: Jeff Shimmyo; Keyboards and Drums: RAM; Bass: Larry Calcagno; Produced by: Jeff Shimmyo; Order this disc at: http://www.guitar9.com
1) Introduction (From Water We Came)
....begins with the ambience of tidal waves crashing ashore, along with smooth synthetic strings & delicate guitar notes plucked in D (as in Di Meola). Things turn Hackettesque, and the introduction of drums helps to 'tense' things up. This track segues into...
2) Mirage (To Water We Shall Return)
...with guitarist Jeff Shimmyo executing those 'singing' guitar lines that sound like equal parts (Vinnie) Moore and Hackett. Keyboardist RAM keeps up with the pace of things on organ and harpsichord voices, building rolling chord progressions and rapid arpeggios alongside Shimmyo's squeaky clean tone. Bassist Larry Calcagno, whose lines are mixed too low, provides some compentent rhythmic parts. Shimmyo produced the album, and the bass should definitely be 'upped' in the mix for album #2.
3) Forgotten Knights (Time Forgets The Valiant Deeds of All Brave Soldiers of Armor)
Now Heavy Reign really begins to strut their stuff. Synth-strings reminiscent of ELPowell kick things off. The prog-metal aspect of this symph-prog album shines with more clarity, and RAM (for e-proggers, now!) lays down some killer rapid melodic lines atop Shimmyo's 'crunch' chords. Shimmyo also doubles some of RAM's parts in later bars, which is a nice touch. True to the title, the track has a medieval flair to it. Midway, the drumming shifts smoothly uptempo alter the feel of the track and give it a more 'fleeting' characteristic, that is very professionally executed. A good reference point would be something of Tony MacAlpine's circa his
"Maximum Security" album. My fave track on "Ram's Rock."
4) Incantations (Magic Cannot Be Performed Without Sound)
Somber analog strings open this piece very tastefully, accompanied several bars later by some wiry, cutting guitar, and makes for a nice aural combination. Pipe organ appears and molds a very pastoral flavor for this track. None appears, but some mellotron would have been very appropriate here. No percussion is employed in this track.
5) Spirit Waltz (A Dance For The Dead)
Also very medieval-sounding (in a modern rock sort of way). Acoustic guitar flourishes and lead synth sound superb together, here. The 'waltz' isn't just a part of the title, the waltz *rhythm* is definitely present in this track, though it isn't quite noticeable until a bit before Shimmyo's guitar solo.
6) March To War
i. The March
ii. The Encounter
Militaristic snare-drumming is prevalent for the first half, supporting Shimmyo's 'singing' guitar (my apologies for such a cheesy expression). The second half is very frantic, very uptempo, and very rockin.' Closer to virtuoso-metal than outright prog/art-rock. Sounds great. I suspect the bassline on this one is synthetic, but it doesn't matter.
i. Birth
ii. Discipline and Teachings
iii. Trials and Tribulations
iv. Crucifixion
A suite! A myriad of influences and expressive timbres populate this 16min. piece, from funk to world music (almost no one would agree with me, on that, though, as it is very 'classical' in it's framework). The refrain reappears in different places, a very nice melody, and transitions to new verses are ultra-smooth. Much guitar-keyboard lick-trading aplenty. A steady-blues rock section is the highlight, and shows Heavy Reign as close to ELP as they'll get, style-wise, on this disc (recall that guitar and keyboards share the spotlight in HR, versus ELP). Virtuo-riffing and stop-start rhythms are in abundance in Pt. III, and Pt. IV is very calming, very somber, with synth-chime sequencing and an overall atmospheric feel.
A last (important) note: all drums were programmed by RAM, not played on a drumkit, though one would never know it! The programming is that good. I particularly enjoyed listening to the surprise tempo shifts and excellent fills. Fantastic job, RAM (the initials for Richard A. Matheson).

From: Mark Fonda <>
I just received RAM'S ROCK by Heavy Reign and I'm very impressed with the overall musical quality and style. Although it is more metal than I normally go for, it is tastefully executed and there's a very good blend of keyboards and percussion to round it out. RAM (the keyboardist, who I have corresponded with for this review) says "most all of the band's fan base has accumulated due to word of mouth. The album is not commercially played on radios and is not available in stores. The music style is, you can say, progressive art metal." All the band members are from the New York City area.
Eli reviewed the CD a couple of weeks ago and his very detailed review is here: http://www.geocities.com/~e-prog/bands/heavyreign.htm I'm NOT a musician so my comments will be from a fan's viewpoint.
I enjoyed the strong interplay between guitar and keyboard throughout the album, with some good bass and percussion backing. The blend is reminiscent of the recent Djam Karet release "The Devouring". Powerful, yet subtle when it needs to be. Dan Shimmyo's guitar blazes throughout most of the numbers and RAM's keyboards add a classical, symphonic sound to the mix. There are no vocals. I especially like the 3rd track 'Forgotten Knights' which has a lead synth trumpet effect to 'call to arms' the forces about to stir which turn out to be a powerful snarling guitar line interspersed with some shimmering keyboards which sound like Rick Wakeman. Also, the 5th track 'Spirit Waltz' which starts with some ominous synth chords & delicate harpsichord effects followed by a brooding electric guitar lead and just enough bass and percussion to fill it out. This track reminded me of Focus without the vocals. Yes, in fact DS's guitar is very reminiscent of Jan Akkerman of Focus. Track 6, 'March to War' is very nice too, with a militaristic snare drum, more superb guitar work and some great keyboard effects. The album has 10 tracks totaling 45 minutes and I was glued to my seat the whole time.
Eli listed http://www.guitar9.com as the place to order the CD... I see the precise URL is http://www.guitar9.com/ramsrock.html and it has RealAudio sound samples. (although RAM says they are poor quality)
There's a bio of the guitarist Dan Shimmyo at http://www.guitar9.com/bio/danshimmyo.html and a review of the CD at http://www.guitar9.com/undiscov8a.html
The CD sleeve gives http://www.key.com/heavyreign as the band website, but it is no longer active. (a new site is in the planning stages, which will have MP3 clips)
Dan Shimmyo has his own production company which produced this CD: http://www.panix.com/~dshimmyo/edge.html (Dan also has a solo album "Metamorphosis".)
RAM lists Bach, Beethoven, Holst, Stravinsky, Yes, ELP, Malmsteen and Dream Theater as his influences. He says there is another album in the works: "We are starting a new recording project very shortly that will include a vocalist. We will not be skimping on compositional quality. The vocalist will effectively be another instrument. There will be two major pieces on the next album. One will be almost a rock opera piece, and the other will be a full blown concerto for electric guitar. Our goal is to release this album by the end of summer."
RAM also stated that they have been asked to play at ProgDay 1999 and are now working on plans to perform live by April or May.

From: "upnsm0ke" <>
After Ayreon, I'm all for a "rock opera/concerto" album. Some of RAM's phrases also harken to Mitchell Froom (he was the keyboardist for Ronnie Montrose's blues rock band, Gamma), IMHO. 'Ram's Rock' is good stuff, and great to lambada to :-)

From: RAM <> Subject: Heavy Reign's new web-site
Many of you recognize me here from my posts. Some of you know me as a contributor to the "e-Progeny" compilation CD, but only a few of you know me as the keyboardist and composer for the group Heavy Reign. After all these years, I finally got around to putting up a web-site with oodles of MP3 sound clips to check out. Setting up a site was very intimidating for me since I never made one before. I started the project a couple of days ago and so there isn't much to it yet, but mostly, I wanted to put up MP3 clips quickly for you guys and gals to hear. For those of you who already have the Ram's Rock album, there is nothing new here. But for those who never heard "Neo-Romantic Rock" music before, come and have a new experience. http://HeavyReign.com Come visit the site. Listen to the MP3 files. Go to bed knowing you've made me very happy. -RAM

From: Roddi [theband@lightspeed-rocks.net] Subject: [e-Prog] Heavy Reign
Well...last week I ordered a copy of Heavy Reign's Ram's Rock. An instrumental CD recorded by e-prog's own RAM. If you are like me and really dig instrumental guitar/keyboard music, I have 2 words for you -->GET IT! This is a GREAT CD. No weak points at all. And it can be purchased for $11.00, shipping included! But even if it were to cost more, I'd still highly recommend it. You can get a pretty good idea of what it's like by listening to the sound samples at http://www.heavyreign.com/RamsRock/ and it can be purchased here at http://www.guitar9.com/ramsrock.html Ram...you need to develop more of an ego, buddy :-) You never mention this CD! Don't hide it from those who enjoy this type of music!

From: "Errol Allahverdi" <> Subject: RE: Heavy Reign
I've had it myself for quite a long time (2 years?) and also recommend it highly to this list.

From: Otso Pakarinen <> Subject: Re: Heavy Reign
RAM wrote: > Thank you so much Roddi, but my ego is already bigger than I'd like it to be. -snip- ...I'll humbly accept your compliment and hope somebody is encouraged to check out "Ram's Rock."
At least you do an excellent job in feigning modesty, RAM! ;^)
Even though "Ram's Rock" is not exactly my cup of tea stylistically, I still listen to the album occasionally because it's so damn good!

From: RAM <> Subject: Re: Heavy Reign
>> I'd love to hear more if the band ever gets around to making another album. >> Jeff Gutenberg
>> When will a new CD be available? Are you still working with Dan and Larry >> Juan Jose @ Luna Negra
>> If you are like me and really dig instrumental guitar/keyboard music, I have >> 2 words for you -->GET IT! >> Rod Lightspeed
>> I've had it myself for quite a long time (2 years?) and also recommend >> it highly to this list. >> Errol
>> The last track of the CD is a masterpiece! >> Lanzarini
>> Even though "Ram's Rock" is not exactly my cup of tea stylistically, I >> still listen to the album occasionally because it's so damn good! >> Otso
I'm very grateful for all the support that has been shown me and the group by our listeners. I feel I should explain to those who are curious about our status as a group, what could be expected from us in the not-too-distant future.
First, I'd like to mention that Heavy Reign was not originally a band, but rather a studio project. It was a vanity recording, a project we simply decided to try to see what our material would sound like. I met Daniel Shimmyo, our guitarist, at the company we both worked for when we had a company outing to a Dream Theater concert. Dan and I discovered we had similar tastes in Rock music, and so we listened to tapes each of us had made. He later asked me if we could try working on a collaboration piece, and I told him there was a piece I'd written a decade earlier that I was dying to try out. That piece is titled "BC AD" which Lanzarini mentions above. Once the recording was done, I sat back and listened to it realizing that something magical had transpired through our collaboration. Afterwards, it was not hard to convince Dan to continue and record more pieces, eventually leading to an entire album. Some of the pieces were written a lot earlier, and some were new.
After the album was completed, the three of us went our separate ways, (me, Larry, and Dan.) The album had been difficult to make, and we needed a break from each other and from spending so much time in the recording studio. We each had our regulars lives to deal with which we had neglected during the project. After a couple years passed, I asked Dan if he would be interested in a new project, and he surprised me by agreeing.
We actually went back into the studio, before the E-Progeny album project began, and started on what would be the main track of the album, which is an 18 minute epic. Unfortunately at the time, other personal issues kept cropping up, and we were once again forced to put the project aside.
Now, at this current point in time, things are beginning to get better again, at least for me. The Sept. 11 incident had gotten me on antidepressants for the first time in my life, and I'm starting to feel like making music again. Early next year, I will be getting back into the studio to finish the track we had begun, and then get Larry and Dan to lay down the bass and guitar tracks. So far we have 40 minutes of material ready to be recorded, which includes a guitar concerto and another 6 minute instrumental. I want to write another 10 minutes of music after that, and also do a cover piece from a band I've loved for a long time, that will remain nameless for now pending an agreement from the group.
Do I think an album will be ready in 2002? Well, there is a good chance of it. That might sound a little lame to people who only purchase albums and not make any themselves, but the fact is that we each have busy lives trying to support ourselves and our families in fields other than music. Music is my passion, but it is also something I don't make any money from. I want every album project I work on to be special, so I can't really churn them out until I have nothing but time and money on my hands.
God willing, the next album that we will release will be very special.