Magnitude 9 - Reality In Focus Inside Out Music - 2001 /images/covers/magnitude9_realityinfocus.jpg This past January Inside Out Music released Reality in Focus, the sophomore effort by Magnitude 9. I was not sure what to expect at first; I have been a little wary of progressive metal acts lately but upon my first listen I knew I was listening to an outstanding band. The incredibly talented guitarist Rob Johnson leads Magnitude 9. His playing is melodic, crunchy, fast and neo-classical and he is definitely one of the best new guitarists in the progressive metal world. Corey Brown is the singer and he has a very powerful and soaring voice. The keyboards played by Joseph Glean add a lot of sound and dimension to the music. His style of playing reminds me a lot of the style of Michael Pinnella (Symphony X). Plus, the guitars and keys trade off a lot during the instrumental parts of the songs; which once again reminds me of Symphony X. John Homan (drums) and Kevin Chown (bass) round out this incredible line-up. They also do an excellent job and add a lot to the music. Throughout the entire album, the songs are filled with truly impressive guitar and keyboard playing. The majority of the songs are speedy and plenty of the solo sections feature the guitars and keyboards trading off leads. The drumming is also showcased in plenty of parts with some excellent and powerful beats. But all this would not succeed if it werent for the great singing by Corey who does it with great conviction and is not lost with all the talent surrounding him. The first song No Turning Back is without a doubt one of the great highlights of Reality in Focus. It is a fast-paced, blistering song filled with some great guitar work by Rob. The guitar melody intro is outstanding and the instrumental section features some awesome solos. The keyboards also shine really well in this song. During the verses, the keyboards provide some great sounds. Also, just like the guitars in the instrumental part, the playing by Joseph is equally on par with the guitars. The chorus is extremely catchy and the singing is superb. This would be the song I would play to someone not familiar with Magnitude 9. Far Beyond Illusion has another catchy chorus and in this part the drumming really shines. Another great song is The End of Days. The intro part has to be the best in the album. Both the guitars and keyboards start it off really well and this section is where it reminds me of Symphony X. Throughout the entirety of the song these two instruments really show flashes of brilliance. Temples of Gold features some of the most heavy and aggressive guitar playing by Rob. The songs Afterlife and Mind Over Fear are the two longest songs of the album and they allow the band to explore many different tempos. Magnitude 9 is not just about fast paced and catchy songs and these two songs showcases their more progressive side. I have talked about all these songs and I have not even gotten to the excellent cover of Iron Maidens Flight of Icarus. While adding their own distinct sound to this song, it is really similar to the original version found in Piece of Mind. Rob has no problems simulating the playing of Dave and Adrian, it just goes to show you what a great talent he is, and Corey can belt it out just as good as Bruce. This is an amazing rendition of this Iron Maiden classic song. Magnitude 9 has drawn comparisons to Symphony X, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Yngwie Malmsteens Rising Force and Iron Maiden and if you are a fan of any of those bands there is no doubt in my mind that you will become a fan of Magnitude 9. To draw comparisons to so many different sounding bands really shows what an exciting and unique band this is. Due yourself and favor and pick up Reality in Focus the next time you go to the record store, you will not be disappointed!