This is a different type of feat for Journey/Storm bassist
Ross Valory; but then again, if Journey would have done concept
album, it might have been something like this. Still, 'Illumine'
is very different sounding, to put that into perspective,
you do have similarities of the whole melodic rock standpoint
(pop songwriting prowess), however, there are eastern-Asian
sounds and arrangements used, then you put a whole concentration
of the neo/symphonic progressive rock edge to it, and you
have No Nation.
Filled with often dense arrangements and instrumentation,
with the occasional key change and odd time signature, this
is sincerely a major release within the 'neo' scope of things.
"Fear Not" opens the record with a lush Asian vibe, filled
with kotos and other ethnic instrument, with an upbeat but
yet overture type sound. But this immediately leads into th
emotional balladry on "Pillars of Stone;" we obviously know
that we are within a concept record at this point with that
Two tracks, both "Dark" and "Ocean of Light" sound like
what Yes would have sounded like, had they recorded 'Tales
from Topographic Oceans' and 'Relayer' in the eighties; that
wonder no longer needs to be pondered. Rounding out the rest
of the record, "Return to Love" begins on a mellow note, but
builds up to a jam session, while "One Heaven" remains subdues
throughout. To sum it up, 'Illumine' has all the right elements
needed to be a the near perfect symphonic progressive rock
But add the guest vocals of Jon Anderson, who compliments
main vocalist Ed Ulibarri with high harmonic content, and
well, you don't have to be a genius to figure that one out.
The keyboard textures are high in the mix along with the Rabin/Schon
axe attack of Stef Burns. Nevertheless, No Nation marks a
different point for both AOR and neo, it is a breath of fresh
air to this often saturated genre of progressive rock.