After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Texans The Aaron Clift Experiment (ACE) were able to record their second full length CD and release it independently. Housed in a beautiful digipack with artwork from Topher Sipes we get 10 songs (that is, mine has 2 bonus tracks, so a regular edition would have 8) running 63 minutes. The four piece (Aaron Clift:vocals and keyboards, Eric Gutierrez: guitar, Devin North: Bass and Joe Resnick: drums) also invited some guests on violin, cello and viola.
Their brand of progressive rock / metal sounds like a mix of Kansas and Dream Theater, but also reminded me a bit of forgotten UK band The Quest and A.C.T. The last 2 names mostly because of the guitar work by Gutierrez, who plays very inventive and tasty and has a fairly transparent sound. So emphasis is on melody and song, but enough musical interplay to let you know they are capable musicians. The vocals of Clift might take a little time to get used to. As the album progresses I feel he grows more into delivering them and experiments more.
The songs prove to be versatile and full of dynamics. This is enhanced by the clear production that stays away from being compressed to the max, resulting in an album that wants your attention. Which is easy, especially when the guest musicians add to the songs. Some really impressive work there.
In my opinion an album that every serious fan of prog should check!