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Next to None
A Light in the Dark

Company: InsideOut Music
Release: 2015
Genre: Progressive
Reviewer: Greg Watson

  • Light years beyond their young years

  • Hailing from Pennsylvania, Next to None is a collective of young prodigies delivering what is sure to be the future generation of progressive metal. "A Light in the Dark", the quartet's full-length debut offers up a mix of stunning prog fused with metalcore, NWOAHM, pop-punk and traditional metal. What is absolutely mind blowing to me is that nobody in the band is over the age of 18!

    Singer/keyboardist Thomas Cuce, guitarist Ryland Holland, drummer Max Portnoy and bassist Kris Rank show a maturity far beyond their young ages and a musical ability that is both staggeringly impressive and thoroughly mature. Take the intro to the song "Lost" for example. Kicking off the song is Thomas Cuce's own take of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", a familiar classical piece to many and a very impressive surprise on the album.

    The songs can get a bit tedious and lengthy at time, delving in to Dream Theater lengths at times and over staying their welcome on others. For instance, the opening track "The Edge of Sanity", is almost 10 minutes long and really kind of struggles at times to continue to keep the listener intrigued and invested. But, we have to remember that these are kids who aren't even in their prime music-making years yet, which is both equal parts impressive and frightening. The album's shorter tracks tend to begin heavier and then mellow out a little bit before ramping up the speed once again (check out "Runaway" for a prime example of this). The vocals tend to be a mix of clean, slightly-whiny vocals interspersed with some metalcore styled growls and a few gang vocal choruses at times, none more evident than on the album's closing track "Blood On My Hands".

    Another impressive quality on the album is the fact that a handful of songs tie together in a conceptual storyline; again, something that is just astounding given the ages of the band members. To be able to write songs that weave a story throughout the lyrics and the music is light years beyond their young years and even better off than some of their more well-known peers.

    Produced by Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater), the production allows all the band members to shine in their own respects and provides a good, cohesive sound throughout. Yes, Max Portnoy is Mike Portnoy's son but that doesn't matter as Max and his band mates shine on their own with their incredible musical abilities, song writing skills and overall solid material.

    While the album has its growing pains and things tend to get repetitive with some slight annoyances, it shows that these young men are going in the right direction already. In a few years, as this band continues to improve, Next to None will be the next name in progressive metal that will be mentioned with the affection that bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X currently enjoy. When listening to this album, try not to be overly critical and just listen to the music this band has created--music that will pull you in, leave you shaking and shivering and searching for the hope of "A Light in the Dark".

    About this Writer:
    Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

    All reviews for Next To None:
    A Light in the DarkNext To None
    Greg Watson11/12/2015

    All interviews for Next To None:
    Max PortnoyNext To NoneGreg Watson11/13/2015

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