Rocket Scientists - Brutal Architecture

The remastered edition of this CD is now part of the Looking Backward boxset.

Rocket Scientists - Brutal ArchitectureThe 65-minute follow up to Earthbound, Rocket Scientists privately-released 1993 debut, Brutal Architecture is a big change in direction. This second album takes Rocket Scientists into more progressive waters with Tommy Amato (drums) and Don Schiff (Stick) attacking multiple time signatures and contrasting sectional passages with passion and grace. Singer/guitarist Mark McCrite’s vocals are a mix of Beatlesque melodic invention and studio savvy. Generous use of E-bow along with acoustic guitar further defines McCrite’s contribution. Producer/keyboardist Erik Norlander employs both Mellotron and state-of-the-art synthesis along with his familiar grand piano stylings to sculpt the polished yet moody Rocket Scientists sound. Brutal Architecture has elements reminiscent of both 70s and 90s King Crimson, as well as links to Pink Floyd, ELP, Yes, UK, and The Alan Parsons Project.

It is like listening to a mix of the very best British progressive rock of the last twenty or thirty years, with King Crimson crossing swords with Emerson Lake & Palmer, while it is possible to find elements of Pink Floyd, Yes, and The Alan Parsons Project. Though it harkens back to the great bands of the past, Rocket Scientists have also managed to capture a soft sound that is all their own. This is due in no small way to the use of a Stick throughout the album, played with great skill by Don Schiff. They all seem to know how to play off each other, and they have so much confidence in their own abilities that there is no need to show off. The result is an album that is technically very complex yet at the same time isn’t overpowering because it all fits together so naturally. [Feedback]

One of my favourite CDs for 1996 I think. I was taken aback as soon as I heard the smooth keyboard buildup on Dark Water Part One leading into an uptempo number called Wake Me Up. Instrumentally, Rocket Scientists are professional, the lyrical content is fairly OK too. Mark McCrite’s voice is particularly acute throughout, with excellent keyboard playing by Erik Norlander... the style is refreshingly varied, with tempo changes and a mellow feel, even a hint of Yes I thought. In all, I found this offering by Rocket Scientists to my liking and very vibrant. I hope more U.S. bands can blend their progressive music as I have found here, to produce the distant atmosphere as on Mariner or Nether. [Audion]

They take a 1970s attitude (and equipment) and combine it with 1990s production techniques for a successful marriage of old and new. Gobs of mellotron echo The Moody Blues but the band has also assimilated bits of 1980s-era King Crimson and UK. Much more complex [than their debut] yet they retained their ability to write strong melodies. Superb audiophile quality recording to boot! [The Laser’s Edge]

These guys have the blueprints for the perfect prog songs... You would be pleased to pick this CD up; all the songs are structurally sound and the vocals are very palatable. Music can often take a back seat and be played for background noise; however, this is not the case for Brutal Architecture. Once this disc is on you can’t help but pay attention. [Music News Network]

One of my favorite new progressive bands. Their music will remind you of Pink Floyd, Yes, ELP, and King Crimson... this is a true masterpiece. Highly recommended! [Stavros Moschopoulos, United Nations FAO Casa Gazette]

Somewhere in the promotional bio, it mentioned both the Beatles and King Crimson, but I still wasn’t ready for a combination of both in the same song. Somehow, they manage this neat little maneuver on Wake Me Up... These guys are good! They know their stuff as only people who have lived and breathed music for a long time can. Oddly though, for such seasoned professionals, there’s a great sense of freshness here... If Rocket Scientists wanted to be pop stars, I’m sure they could make it with ease, as there are some superbly catchy songs here. However, they’d have to control their desire to throw in the completely off-the-wall twists that make this such an absorbing album. [Astro Zombie]

This is a kind of prog I do like, with endless keyboard horizons, contrasted and varied landscapes, symphonic touches, fluid guitars, intelligent science fiction lyrics... Really great, including superb melancholy Mellotron solos and other analog keyboard parts. Certainly one of the best albums reviewed this issue.” [Acid Dragon]

This is what I fondly like to call American Prog. While it is undeniably prog, it is also uniquely American, having more in common with Kansas than with Genesis. The playing is top notch. Great buzzy keys (mellotron too), a nice seventies sounding guitar, very good implementation of the Stick, and some nice subtly busy percussion. [Music Uncovered]


The second release by Rocket Scientists proved the band had matured significantly since their debut. Erik Norlander’s keyboards are the cornerstone of the band’s melodic style of progressive rock, offering an intriguing blend of virtuosity, taste, and atmosphere... the songs are all well written and contain memorable melodies. Despite the caliber of their musicianship, the music never degrades into technical meandering, rather the focus is always on exploring the possibilities within the parameters of the composition. This is truly ‘progressive’ music; respecting the past, embracing the present, and pushing towards the future. [Robert Taylor, All Music Guide]

Progressively and compositionally, Brutal Architecture is light years ahead of Rocket Scientists 1993 debut, Earthbound. In fact, this is one of the best (and most surprising) American prog releases of early 1996 - a smartly crafted collection of long, instrumental pieces with stylized solos, contrasted by Beatle-esque vocals and sharp studio production. Neither neo nor retro, Brutal Architecture is at the vanguard of a promising new American progressive movement that melds adventurous musicianship with an accessible, melodic vocal emphasis. I found myself drinking rather deeply, especially when keyboardist Erik Norlander stretches out on piano. An added bonus is that these guys can rock when they want to. Highly recommended! [Progression]

Musically, the band are very influenced by the likes of ELP, UK, and Yes/Wakeman, which results in a heavy keyboard influence. There are several short instrumental pieces, but the album comes alive on tracks such as The Fall of Icarus, Rainy Days and Pastel Grays, and the excellent title track. Pride of place, however, belongs to the magnificent album closer, Mariner, 11 minutes of sheer bliss. This CD does get better through each track, which is a real achievement as it starts wonderfully and certainly captures the imagination... overall this is a stunning album. A must for all prog fans, especially those who lean more towards the keyboard side. [Wondrous Stories]

Here’s another quality band from Kinesis, this bunch of supermusicians sound like a mix of The Beatles, ELP, Genesis and The Alan Parsons Project! Erik Norlander’s massive synths and Mellotrons give the band their special character, and compositions like Rainy Days And Pastel Grays, plus the monumental Mariner will give any fan of progressive rock a wonderful experience. A mighty album! [Scream Magazine (Norway)]

For their second CD, Rocket Scientists have become a band... this album is much more interesting. The mainstay of the band is still strong vocals and good songs. However, this time the players have stretched it out a bit with longer intros and instrumental sections, making this an outstanding follow-up. It jumps way up on the progmeter. It’s not too difficult to hear who has influenced these guys, but the sound is their own... lots of keyboard/guitar interplay - Norlander is a first-rate keyboardist. I would highly recommend this to anyone who liked the first, and to all who want a good listen. [Exposé]

Brutal Architecture is an album from 1995 really worth mentioning... The album is altogether wonderful and sounds clear and pure. During the opening track, Dark Water Part One, you think you’re listening to a clone of Pink Floyd, but nothing is further from the truth when you listen to the rest of the album. But one cannot deny a little bit of Floyd influence to these Americans... Here and there they use Mellotron to give the album a symphonic aura... It’s an outstanding album that after a few listens falls into the category of records that you will listen to again and again. [Symfo City Prog Page (The Netherlands) translated from Dutch]