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Sign, The - 2004 The Second Sign
» Posted by No Avatar

dangerzone
on December 02 2004, In 2004 Articles , 1 Comment , 1727 Reads , Print


THE SIGN - THE SECOND SIGN (2004, FRONTIERS)
Terry Brock - vocals, guitar
Randy Jackson - vocals, guitar
Jon Bivona - bass, guitar
Mark Hermann - bass, guitar
Mark Mangold - drums, keyboards


Background
The second release from The Sign sees their supergroup label toned down slightly, with Billy Greer and Bobby Rondinelli both missing, Mark Mangold handling drums with Jon Bivona on both bass and guitar. 2000's 'Signs Of Life' was a critically acclaimed concept album based on a female character named Aryon who after being awakened from a coma travels a path seeking meaning from life. Or so I'm told! With a cast of AOR legends 'Signs Of Life' had weighty expectations that it met, but whether or not this follow up does is debatable. The concept is continued, which in my opinion may have been a faulty idea. Wouldn't key players such as this be better off delivering an album of unconnected songs? If one can overlook the concept and treat the tracks as single pieces maybe some worth can be found, but an AOR classic this is not.

The Songs
The whole album is a weighty listen. With various instrumentals leading into tracks it is easy to be sidetracked to what the band is attempting to achieve, as the wait for vintage AOR is tempered by unmelodic passages and over ambitious arrangements which are miles off what these men were capable of delivering at their peak. 'Aryon Overture' is a listenable pomp interlude which screams Kansas 'Carry On Wayward Son', although I think it is due to similar wording: 'carry on!'- 'Aryon!'. Searching for truly memorable moments proves impossible, but 'If For One Moment' comes close, again with a heavy Kansas feel and a delicate hook. The following track 'Flame Of The Oracle' sees Brock in good voice, with Mangold's keyboard mastery as potent as ever, resulting in a fine slice of pomp. The bland hard rock of 'Black Mountain' leaves me unmoved, plodding riffs and Brock aping Robert Plant the letdown. The acoustic guitar work of 'Shine' reminds me of Bon Jovi at their worst, tell me that isn't Jon himself on vocals anyone? On a heavier scale is 'Motorcycle Messiah', but meaning little in the face of non descript melody lines. 'Maniac' closes the album reasonably, a gentle ballad of sorts with prominent backing vocals the saving grace.

In Summary
I've listened to this repeatedly for months to try and develop a liking for it, but sadly it's proved futile. Where I was expecting an AOR onslaught instead a mundane selection of half baked melodic rock with scant highlights seems to be the norm. Maybe in their old age the old AOR greats have forgotten what earned them their reputation to begin with. Whether or not the absence of Greer and Rondinelli were a key factor in this stalemate only the band could say. Others may appreciate the complexity of the storyline and musicianship, but for those searching for immediate AOR satisfaction had better stick to Touch, Strangeways or Zebra instead.

Track Listing
01 Aryon Overture
02 Stained (Gone)
03 The Morning After (Time To Run)
04 Motorcycle Messiah
05 Shine
06 Bliss
07 If For One Moment
08 Flame Of The Oracle
09 The Ooze
10 Inner Child (Exorcise)
11 Black Mountain
12 Keep On Breathin'
13 Shine (Finale)
14 Rapture (Ode To Aryon)
15 Maniac

Related Articles:

Sign, The - 2000 Signs Of Life


Sign, The - 2004 The Second Sign


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Comments
#1 | Jez on June 16 2008 15:06:51
I loved the debut, but this is a different beast, alot darker, less immediate and if truth be told, dissapointing. The production is average (as with the debut) and the songs are more progressively orientated (not a problem with me usually as i love all things Proggy). Put this up against other releases that Mangold, Brock have released - now see what i mean!!!!. Could have been good, should have been good, isn't really very good.
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