The album “Existence” from Progressive Rock adept Brady Arnold is a very special piece of work. It mixes a wide range of distinct sonic elements into a cauldron of forward-thinking music based on core essentials evolved from legendary rock eras from the past. To be honest, they don’t make records quite like this anymore these days. And I am doubly amazed, that an independent artist went to the trouble to produce a record so extremely well done, both technically and musically. “Existence” really has a late ’70s, early ’80s flavor, reminiscent of the times of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, the Strawbs, King Crimson, and Rush, brought forward into the 21st century. It is the hallmark of stellar musicianship, arranging and production, as well as a bold attitude, in an era of cloned computer generated music.
Another remarkable feature of this project, are the lyrics. More often than not, the words in modern rock are banal, clichéd, or at best, really indifferent, but not here. The way Brady Arnold managed to match the words and narratives with the music is absolutely amazing. A dark concept concerning the themes of life, death, denial, and regrets, “Existence” shows no signs of cheese in sight anywhere at all.
Frankly, Brady Arnold really got my attention straight from the start with the track “The End is the Beginning”, which opens with a wall of distorted voices and epic, overdriven guitars. It provides an impacting introduction to the world of Brady Arnold. The heavily layered, crystal clear and crisp mellifluous style, used to structure and produce the rest of the track, is just as mind-boggling.
Things get even more epic, melodic, and cinematic, on the mid-tempo “The Trade”, as Arnold echoes out the words: “I’m trading my heart in for a lock without a key. I’m trading my sole in for a fate that will never be. I’m disappearing as the darkness takes hold of me. Your fading away now with a world I no longer see,” his voice deep, powerful and resonant. “You don’t exist to me at all. I’m moving way beyond it all,” sings Arnold on the poignant and building orchestral arrangement of “You Don’t Exist” – a beautifully understated track.
Moving forward, we encounter the instrumental of “Circle of Ice”, and the eloquent, ambient-styled “Looking Outside”, featuring another beautiful vocal melody driving the song’s core, before descending on “Atonement”, another carefully crafted instrumental.
Things fire up again on the driven “Pass My Eye”, which falls somewhere between the sound of Asia and the Alan Parsons Project. And if you added Mike and The Mechanics to that equation, you will begin to imagine the brilliant and emotional tones of “Stay With Me”, my favorite piece on the album.
Brady Arnold keeps the crunch and shimmering jangle of the guitars prominent on “Pass Me By” and the Phil Collins sounding “Locked Inside”, where the vocals and arrangements are nothing short of stunning. The track morphs into the expansive “Beyond It All” with its dominant guitar melody, which in turn introduces the psychedelic haze of “Dead Girl Walking”. The album closes with another set of standout moments on the intense “Firing Line”.
Bucking virtually every convention in today’s music business – and from an indie artist, without the benefit of the big bucks provided by the majors – “Existence” by Brady Arnold, is an extremely rare piece of forward-thinking rock created in the 3rd millennium.
You should definitely own a copy, if you have even the slightest affinity for the genre. Brady Arnold, who got started in 1991 with the band Stonehenge Unhenged, has certainly grown into an undeniable talent. And he has totally outdone himself here!