01. Imagine
02. Alive
03. Endeavor
04. How Far
05. Role Model
06. The Waiting
07. Ion Drive
08. Face the Day
09. Time

RATING: 8/10

There is something to this DREAM THEATER-meets-JOURNEY description of Houston, Texas' STRIDE. Neither as over-the-top progressive as DREAM THEATER nor as pop-flavored AOR as NEIL SCHON's bunch, the band's second full-length and first released through a record label does feature the successful construction of bridgework between the two sides. The fact that STRIDE's first release ("Music Machine") is an instrumental album (due only to failed attempts at corralling the right singer for the job) is intriguing. STRIDE was also thought of highly enough to warrant a slot at ProgPower VI.

As far as the JOURNEY thing is concerned, no one is talking in terms of "Any Way You Want It" or "Lights", but instead the manner in which Gary Belin's silky smooth delivery can sometimes remind of Steve Perry. The comparison also has more to do with songs that focus first on hooks, and second on musical trips down winding roads. The six-and-a-half minute "How Far" and "Alive" are leading examples of the balance that is achieved, while the piano-drenched "Time" (featuring some nifty vocal harmonizing) would be the song most often referenced when the talk of commercial viability dominates the conversation at your local cocktail party.

At around 50 minutes, the disc stops short of excessive progginess, the result being that the powerful melodies are not drowned out by wankery overkill. Even the instrumental "Ion Drive" is under four minutes, and succeeds as a to-the-point, upbeat rocker with sharp keyboard and guitar soloing. As far as progressive rock/metal albums go, "Imagine" should make plenty of friends in both the musicians' clique and the sing-along-with-the-top-down circle. There is much to enjoy on "Imagine".


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