Planet X – Universe

by Brian Coles 8/15/2000

Planet X, which I believe is just beyond Pluto a hair, is definitely a different breed of prog trio. Instead of dry, “watch what we can do!” explorations that leave the listener’s gray matter stunted, we get energized, albeit complex, space rock.

Keyboardist Derek Sherinian, drummer Virgil Donati, and guitarist Tony MacAlpine, each an accomplished virtuoso, have attacked this project with passion and seriousness, which allow for “moving” prog metal. And that’s another thing that must be pointed out, this is prog METAL, not simply rock. While Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater) expands the music with soaring keyboard vistas, MacAlpine axe grinds us through asteroid fields and exploding stars. Percussionist Donati is an octopus driving tracks like “Her Animal” into a black hole of frantic, yet totally useful rhythms. Although Sherinian admits the “this band is the ultimate combination of musical virtuosity and rock ‘n’ roll pomposity,” it must be made clear that the material operates with a goal in mind and does not drag on beyond the limits of the average metal fans attention span. Other than a couple tracks, most hover around the 4 minute mark, making their statement and leaving you enough time to digest it. Yet overall, there is an advanced depth to the music that is often lacking in the genre.

Although this is indeed a prog outfit in every sense, and thus demands a specific audience, Dream Theater fans and high energy instrumental aficionados will find much to enjoy here.

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