Sometimes you find bands that are okay and then you find something incredible. Step By Step Project and their song “Silver Rain (Acrimonious)” falls into the latter category. I had so much fun listening through this song. They are an interesting blend of many different prog metal projects. They seem to take their roots from Dream Theater, as many prog metal bands do. But the chorus gave me Opeth vibes with their chord progressions and bass work. From a sound engineering standpoint, they very much have their own unique tone and quality to their music. Let’s dive in on the guitars, bass, vocals, drums, keys, and then overall production.
The guitars, especially at the beginning of the song, and many of the riffs seemed to come out of the “John Petrucci Handbook for Writing Prog Metal”. This is, by no means, a bad thing. If you are good enough to write like him, then that is one hell of a compliment. I enjoyed all the creative guitar moments in the song. Lots of great, 2000’s style prog metal riffing. The solo was awesome! I am a true lover of blues-inspired solos. The tone was great as well. It was one that didn’t seem like it was ripping off anybody else and it seemed incredibly and meticulously sound scaped. Great job here!
Bass was great as well! I found that a lot of his bass lines, especially during the chorus, reminded me of 2000 – 2010 Opeth. While the guitar and keyboard filled out the space with their sounds and chords, the bass had these gorgeous melodies that acted as a counter-melody to the vocalist. I love bassists that are wise enough to stay in the pocket when needed, but still find a way to work in their own creative parts to open chord progressions. Their bassist does a great job of this on this song. The bass tone was killer. It was big and round, just still had the punch it needed during the heavy and technical sections. Again, great job on the bass and bass production.
The vocalist did a great job with his parts. I was expecting a lot of high pitch singing when I got started on the song but was surprised when there wasn’t. He stayed about an in the pocket as a vocalist can get and did not over welcome his presence. His vocal timbre was perfect for the song, especially during the chorus sections. No unnecessary belting or high notes, his voice just laid down a good, haunting atmosphere that the song needed. I especially loved lower octave notes during the chorus. I am always impressed with musicians like him, and the bassist, that are technically able to do more, but choose to restrain themselves for the sake of the song. Very cool vocals and expertly done!
The drums sounded great. Again, like the point I made about the bassist and the singer, the drummer was perfectly in the pocket the whole song and only stepped out of the pocket occasionally to do a fill here or there. Lots of musical restraint from him and I loved it. The song did not need any super crazy double kick work or anything to make the drums more “fancy.” The drum tone was spot on. I love the way they were able to capture the room and atmosphere of his kit. I must point out his snare tone. Amazing tone and a perfect, snug fit for what the sound needed.
The keys were amazing. I loved what keys can do for a band, whether they’re in the pocket or front and center doing a solo. Which, this keyboardist did a great job of both. I really enjoyed the ambiance and textures he was able to add to the chorus especially. His keyboard solo was awesome! I cannot get enough of those classic sounding synth solos. It was expertly executed and, to be honest, reminded me of something that Jordan Rudess might have written. Great job!