CD Review on Graceful Degradation

The Count, Act I, The Soul of a PrisonerLike classic literature? After a bit of epic prog? This might just be the album for you.

The Count, Act I – The Soul of a Prisoner is an ambitious debut from Dallas based symphonic, melodic, prog rockers Twenty3Fifty9 and tells the story of Edmond Dantes, later to reinvent himself as the Count of Monte Cristo. Based on the book by Alexandre Dumas, this album covers his imprisonment in the Chateau D’if and by flashback tells the story of how he ended up in this predicament. A second album, due at a later date, will cover his escape, search for the lost treasure of Monte Cristo, and how he exacts his revenge on those who imprisoned him.

It’s a hugely theatrical piece, giving the impression it was designed as musical/operatic theatre rather than for straight live performance by a band, although I suppose that’s usually taken as read from a prog concept album. Singer Jeff Beardsley has apparently been singing since age 12 and I wondered whether there was classical training in his background, the quality of his voice is so good. He also handles guitars with aplomb, and combine those with Brian Bradford’s keyboards, Tom Martino’s bass and Bill Ramkin’s drums the symphonic element really shines though – orchestration is pretty strong.

The only other voice featured is that of Kristine Rios on the duet Believe. A choral element would be that much more difficult to arrange, but I couldn’t help thinking the album would have benefitted from this – there’s no real backing vocals at all and with the hugeness of the instrumentation it lessens the impact of the vocals.

Inevitably some of the tracks are on the lengthy side, and to be honest I found my attention did tend to drift a bit, but it’s certainly an impressive, ambitious project and epic pretty much sums it up. Performed theatrically rather than a concert performance I imagine it would be enthralling. Certainly it has piqued my interest enough to wonder how they will pull off Act II.

[See the Original Article on Graceful Degradation]

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