Pinnella, Michael - Enter By The Twelfth Gate

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMCD 185SPV 085-40532
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:23:00

Time and time again keyboardists release solo albums. The expectation is to hear music similar to what's found in their shared endeavors while providing expansion upon their personal portions.

On Ryo Okumoto's album Coming Through, he surprised his audience with an album that was mainly pop-oriented. To these ears, this was not the keyboardist of Spock's Beard. The music didn't sound anything like the band. Coming Through was a good album, but it was not at all what was expected. Parallels can be drawn with each keyboardist from Dream Theater (Kevin Moore, Derek Sherinian, and Jordan Rudess). While they've each respectively put out great albums on their own, I cannot say they correspond completely with the hometown band.

Michael Pinnella is the keyboardist for Symphony X. His keyboard contributions, coupled with an incredibly talented singer, guitarist, and bassist, make Symphony X the most unique band in Progressive Metal. Imagine what Symphony X would sound like if you stripped out the vocals, guitars, and bass then stretched out the keyboards to fill in what empty cracks remain. You would be left with a digital symphony of sound. This is what one would expect and the end result would very intriguing.

One must wonder whether or not Michael Pinnella chose to take this route in his first solo album.

Actually, Michael gives us EXACTLY what's expected and actually manages to improve upon the forecast. This is by no means a half-hearted effort between sessions while he's on furlough from the band. Enter By The 12th Gate gives us all the great symphonic arrangements typically found in Symphony X. Michael takes us far beyond hitting the demo button on his keyboard and provides us with extremely fine-crafted compositions. He has taken the time to refine many delicate passages with a thoughtful songwriting process. This skilled keyboardist has obviously put a lot of labor into this release.

There are many highlights on the album, so it would be foolish to list them all. The album really doesn't have a weak moment. The best melodies are given the most time while whimsical short cuts cause sparks of stimulation between the juicier bits.

"The White Room" and "Edge Of Insanity" are almost like the theme music to A Clockwork Orange. These pieces set the tone and propel the music into a fabulous frontier.

The piano concertos should give us something to celebrate. They demonstrate the classical influences typically heard crawling out from under Symphony X's cabinets. The first movement sounds like the opening to Dream Theater's epic Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The second is slightly more docile. It embodies the spirit of an orchestra with a synthesized string and horn section. The third and last movement is a bit like the overtures and preludes utilized in Symphony X's V.

"Welcome To My Daydream" is an uplifting song. It's like a refreshing nap on the weekend and it's over much too soon.

The title track, however, is dark and brooding, but also has an angelic ambiance about it. This sinister song combines the music from the movie On Golden Pond with the theme music from TV series The Incredible Hulk. It is no wonder why Michael named the album after this track. "Enter By The 12th Gate" is one of the best pieces on the album. It is only second to the finale.

Michael Pinnella's style is similar to Danny Elfman in many places, too. His music would be right at home on the soundtrack to a Tim Burton movie. It is easy to envision the capped crusader taking flight in his Bat Wing or segues that feature crooked criminals reeking havoc on Gotham City.

Even though Enter By The 12th Gate has thirteen songs, it is a short album. The lengths of the pieces cycle in size and gradually shorten as we reach the end. The final song, called "Cross The Bridge," is the sole exception to this weather pattern. The song is only available in a large and it's surely the highlight of the album. The piece uses an impressive combination of atmospheric sounds, synthesizers, and piano playing.

Any fan of Progressive Metal should certainly own several, maybe even all, of the albums from Symphony X. As the quintessential companion to these discs, Enter By The 12th Gate should sit snugly nearby.

[Watch for a new album from Symphony X next year. Also expect to see the solo debut from Sir Russell Allen, Symphony X's vocalist.]

Released in North America by InsideOut Music America (IOMACD 2096)

The White Room (5:23) / Edge Of Insanity (4:24) / Piano Concerto#1 Mvt.1 (5:11) / Enter By The 12th Gate (4:30) / Falling From The Sky (2:55) / Welcome To My Daydream (3;22) / Piano Concerto #1 Mvt.2 (2:26) / Piano Concerto #1 Mvt.3 (2:19) / Live For The Day (3:36) / *Scriabin Etude OP.42 No5* (1:50) / Moracan Lullaby (1:50) / Departing For Eternity (1:24) / Cross The Bridge (4:55)

Michael Pinnella - keyboards

Enter By The 12th Gate (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: October 24th 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website:
Hits: 909
Language: english


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