Acid Rain took a while to find on the web, as both Metal Archives and ProgArchives list at least three other bands of the same name, all within the progressive vein. I guess naming oneself after a Liquid Tension Experiment song (which is a bad ass song if you haven't heard it) tends to mean that progressive music is your forte. Hell I got the message, the only reason I picked up this album was because of the obvious throwback-name and the interesting album artwork. Yes, I am one of those people that judges a book by it's cover, it's worked pretty well for me so far.
I didn't know truly what to expect from Shallow Paradise, and there is scant within the internet, so I turned to a review off of ProgArchives about their other album, The Descending Line. In a nutshell, the review calls Acid Rain musically a Dream Theater homage - used as a positive description - but that the vocals lack behind the rest. This set the stage for my listening adventure, and while reading someone else's opinion may taint my own, I just look at is as a launching-off point for my own review. After all, how many people can truly claim that they've never read a review before listening to an album? We use other's to meld our own views, it's the way of life.
If Shallow Paradise is a true successor of The Descending Line then I have to argue with part of the above-cited review, mostly the part calling for the similarities of Acid Rain and Dream Theater. Sure there are some obvious similarities, how can you be a part of modern prog without throwing Dream Theater some sort of credit? But aside from the obvious, there isn't much to roam down this road. Actually I hear more of a connection to Arjen Anthony Lucassen's work. We all know (or we all should know) that Lucassen is the main driving force behind Ayreon - which is not the act I'm comparing Acid Rain to - but he also has several side projects. It is the simpler style of these projects; Star One & Guilt Machine, that I hear evident in Shallow Paradise. Perhaps the group's sound has evolved a bit over the two years separating the albums, or maybe I'm looking to hard into this, but this is what I hear.
I do have to agree that the vocals do not match up with the music in the least. You have this sophisticated and (at times) beautiful music playing, and then a voice that is rough and untrained to sing over it? There is no progressive feel from the vocals, it seems like he can't carry a note well, and he never attempts to step outside of his very small range. There are a couple of songs he does well, where he adds a more melodic tone to his voice, and these are the songs that I enjoy the most, but for the most part, it's the same lackluster sound over and over. It's a let-down, and the major negative of the album.
While I'm not opposed to hearing more from Acid Rain, I am by no means jumping at the chance. The act puts out some decent music - perhaps a bit uninspired at times - and can play a range of styles, but they really need to find another vocalist if they ever want to be taken seriously. These facts average out to an average album. It's sad because they could do so much better.