Magnitude 9 Decoding The Soul

Caught in the early ’90s, Ohio’s Magnitude Nine best resemble a fluid cross between Dream Theater and Iron Maiden — not surprising, since their 2001 album Reality In Focus boasted a proggish cover of Maiden’s "Flight Of Icarus.” Co-produced by Michael Vescera (main throat for Yngwie Malmsteen, Loudness and Obsession), Decoding The Soul is a near-overwhelming power-metal ride through immaculately constructed riffs and locked-in polyrhythms. From the opening tracks, "New Dimension” and "Lies Within The Truth,” guitarist Rob Johnson (who has also released three solo guitar albums in Japan) dazzles with his manic chordal dives and noodlings, markedly influenced by Malmsteen. "Facing The Unknown” and "To Find A Reason” take a palpable Queensrÿche tack, thanks to Corey Brown’s vocal flights, and the ballad-esque "Walk Through The Fire” recalls the glory days of Steve Howe’s GTR. Aping Yes’s Rick Wakeman in a massive synth solo, Joseph Glean trades licks with Johnson in the dizzying "Dead In Their Tracks.” The vocal harmonies of "Torn” and "Changes” (not a Yes cover, unfortunately) transform them into neo-prog, Spock’s Beard-wearers, and "Sands Of Time” lapses into the Jelly Jam or King’s X territory. Decoding The Soul is most comparable to classic Queensrÿche, as Johnson boasts just enough fretboard fireworks to put M9 ahead of the faceless prog bands in their wake. (Inside Out)