This way in

The Entrance’s entrancing Circle; plus, the Biltmores hit the road
By BOB GULLA  |  May 29, 2007

They’ve changed lineups, they’ve changed names, they’ve even changed scenery, moving temporarily to Florida to play and write. But one thing has remained constant: the band’s passion and single-minded focus on getting their thoughts transcribed to music. With all the changes, it hasn’t been easy. Change is disruptive, especially when you’re going for something more than your standard three-chord rock and roll fare, like the Entrance is. Trying to hit the bull’s-eye on a moving target is futile. So is trying to make a cohesive prog-type album when you expect and demand contributions from each member of the band, but you keep forgetting their names because they’re coming and going so often.
Tonight (Thursday the 31st), the band now officially known as the Entrance — Damian Ciccarone, Tim Carroll, Pat Conway, and Ben Wistey — will ring in the initial phase of its new life with a release party for their debut disc, Abortion of a Circle. By the sound of it, this lineup is tight and powerful, and will be around for a while. There’s some real togetherness here, some brilliant, absorbing material that local prog fans will most emphatically dig. The quartet brims with invention; they ooze ideas and they give those ideas voice with great credibility. The five-song demo that was released two years ago has swelled into a stomping, grass-killing progressive monster along the lines of A Perfect Circle, Marillion, or Porcupine Tree. At times, they streamline their ideas; at others they allow their songs to take on harlequin-type shapes and hues.
Keyboardist/singer/lyricist Ciccarone holds our hand as he leads us through a sweeping landscape of metal, classically-influenced rock, and undulating ambience passages. His lush keyboard motifs can be pretty (“Hostage”) and pretty crazy, and his voice, thin and quivering, capable of communicating drama with just a whisper, is mesmerizing in ways that only the most compelling singers are capable. Guitarist Carroll veers wildly from scratchy violence (“On a Whim”) and painterly flourishes (“X”) to Rush-style chord progressions and wailing animal sounds (“Death By Day”). “The Omen” sounds like a Little Rascals soundtrack as seen through the eyes of Dream Theater. The disc ends on a roller coaster ride, the seven-plus minute piano drama, “A State of Absence,” which takes more than a little of its inspiration from Dream Theater, with a few stops to pay tribute to Pink Floyd.
Everyone gets a chance to shine during this 60-minute workout — including superman drummer Pat Conway, who holds the tent down with little more than a modicum of showiness, which makes the Entrance that rarest of rare breeds of progressive rock band that doesn’t feel the need to call attention to its individuals at the risk of losing sight of the group as a whole.

The Entrance + California Smile + World Threat + Protean Collective + Bit of Light | May 31 | The Living Room, 23 Rathbone Street, Providence | 401.521.5200

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