Payne's Gray Reviews

A couple of weeks ago, I acquired an album called "Kadeth Decoded" by Paynes's Gray, and ever since I've been asking myself whether it is the greatest progressive rock CD ever made. It's absolutely sensational. Everything you could want from a prog album is there - beautiful classical passages, fiery prog-metal, swirling psychedelia, pure progressive rock, complex fusion, dreamy soundscapes, fantastic vocals, brilliant musicianship, etc - all bound together by a musical vision of epic proportions. In my opinion, fans of 70's Yes and Anglagard would love this album. Although they are musically different from those two bands, Payne's Gray share the same sort of grandeur, purposefulness, musical quality and sense of adventure. You can tell that the band knew right from the very beginning that they were creating something very special and did everything possible to make the perfect album. I really don't think I could praise this album highly enough. It's a musical masterpiece in every sense of the word, and I recommend it to everybody.

From: Brandon C Wu <>
"Kadath Decoded" is a helluva piece of work, but before people starting rushing out to get it, I think a word of warning is in order. These guys are fundamentally a prog-metal band (I'd be interested in hearing where the Anglagard comparison came from), and that may turn off a lot of people. The first half of the album, I think, will appeal even to those who dislike any genre coming close to metal - it's full of lots of gorgeous piano and acoustic guitar work. However, the second half has a lot of noisy stuff, some pretty clich? riffing, and dual vocalists whose voices, while quite good when they don't screech, are IMO extremely grating when they do. And they do screech quite a bit in the second half. That said, "Kadath Decoded" is the closest thing to a prog-metal album that people who hate prog-metal might like, if you discount bands like A Piedi Nudi or Gordian Knot, neither of which in my opinion is really metal. I don't listen to the second half much, but the first is classic - dark, beautiful, and haunting.

>Panes Gray sounds great, can you give us some information on them. Are they American? Where did you purchase the CD? What label are they on?
They're a German Prog-Band with 6 members from different countries (France, Korea, Turkey, Italy and Germany). After two demo tapes, they released their self produced debut cd, "Kadath Decoded", in 1995. I bought the CD from Richard Stockwell's Cranium. I think Laser's Edge stocks it too. Here are a couple of reviews of the album:

From Ken Golden, The Laser's Edge: When was the last time you heard something so fresh, so new that it totally blew you away from the opening note? Payne's Gray is an amazing new German band that blends symphonic rock with progressive metal. This is a conceptual work, adapted by Rainer Schmidt, of H.P. Lovecraft's "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" - a story just crying out for this type of treatment. The story deals with Randolph Carter, who every night dreams of the mythical, mystical city of Kadath. Every night his dreams become more and more real. The CD tells the story of Carter's trials and tribulations on his quest through the dreamworld to find the city and what he finds once he gets there. Musically, the album starts out soft and symphonic with flute weaving in and out of the mix - somewhat reminiscent of Camel. Then after going through a more technical passage that reminds me a bit of King Crimson. It then really kicks into progressive metal overdrive - dual soaring vocals, shred guitar runs dominating a wall of synths - over a massive wave of bass and percussion. As the story unfolds, the music reflects the events - from mystical dreamy lush symphonics to powerhouse metal riffing. The musicianship is outstanding. The two vocalists, Hagen Schmidt & Haluk Balikci, don't ever get in each other's way. Jan Schroder's guitar work (particularly acoustic) is a revelation and his flute work is a nice accent. Tomek Turek's synth work create surging waves of Randolph Carter's emotions from pure joy to utter despair. The rythm section of Martin Mannhardt and Daniel Herrman on bass and drum propel the whole esemble along. Outstanding production has a hallucinatory quality reflecting the dream world that Carter is traveling through. Perhaps I'm getting long-winded, but this band deserves your attention. Whether you are a fan of progressive metal ala Dream Theatre and Fates Warning or a fan of symphonic rock ala Yes and Camel, Payne's Gray's music will connect with you.

Perpetual Motion Reveiw: The disc starts with gentle piano, as the protagonist, Carter, slips into the realm of dreams. You begin to immediately realize that much of the disc is instrumental, played and written with care and vision, and careful attention to the novel. There are an abundance of moods, styles of music, and instruments on this album, which come together under the guidance of this group of musical visionaires. Calm gentle passages will soothe you; progressive and powerful passages will fascinate you; dissonant jazz fusion-like passages will enthrall you: yet all this is a complete work, and there is an overall style, and quite Lovecraftian at that!

The Players: Keys play a large part in this disc, and Tomek Turek (listed as playing "Piano and Synthies") handles these with applomb, leading, then backing, then leading, always an integral part of the music. Guitars and flutes are handled by Jan Schroder, who plays a WILD array of styles to match the wild story being told. Martin Mannhardt lays down the bass-line, keeping up with the insane time-changes, break-neck tempos, and even the calm parts :)! Daniel Herrmann handles the drums, percussion, and "noise-guitar" (huh?); all I can say is he goes beyond the call of duty and plays to the hilt! The Singers (!): The singing duties on this album are split between two vocalists, Haluk Balikci and Hagen Schmidt. What is even more unusual is that Haluk and Hagen sound almost IDENTICAL to one another, allowing for strange duets that you'd swear were overdubs :)! They do some amazing tricks together...both have HIGH, thin, crooning voices, and when they sing together, it's AMAZING. The effect is just MIND-BLOWING. This is one of many features that make Payne's Gray amazingly unique. The Songs/Concept: This disc SCREAMS variety from beginning to end, with a sort of unifying insanity tying it all together. The songs tell the story straight from the novel, and I don't want to spoil anything. There's plenty of amazing imagery that translates quite well into either sound or lyrics...these guys could write the book about doing an awesome book-based concept album :)! BTW, this disc is over 67 minutes long, so strap yerselves in kiddies, this is a LONG, WILD ride! The Production: Clear as a bell. This sort of production is what we all need...we get pampered by great production like this, which only makes you love discs like this all the more and dislike the thin or muddy inferior production. The Conclusion: A brilliant work full of variety, innovation, and creativity. There is on this disc, as in Lovecraft's works, an overall pervading sense of madness, but don't let that drive you away. Embrace the madness, and prepare yourself for an awesome epic unlike ANYTHING you have ever experienced!