Supergroups are nothing new to Robert Berry. Back in 1988, he fronted the band 3 (a personal favorite) which also featured ELP’s Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer. Prior to that he was briefly in GTR with Steve Howe. Recently he revisited that band and wrote music with Keith, prior to the keyboard legend’s tragic death. 3.2 was yet another triumph. Now Berry has formed another supergroup called SiX BY SiX, which features Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler and guitarist Ian Crichton of Saga. This trio seems very different musically from one another. Berry and Crichton perhaps the closet music-wise with Glockler being the heavy metal “basher”, yet one of the best and most underrated drummers in general.
Going into this album, I was curious how this trio would gel. Berry is capable of playing every instrument needed, and has. He is vastly talented and really doesn’t NEED anyone. Crichton is one of the most distinctive guitarists in music history. When he plays, you KNOW it’s him and there are few who have that ability. His shape throwing makes Saga sound like Saga. So I worried that SiX BY SiX might sound too much like Saga. Then you have Glockler who is, as mentioned, known more for a classic metal style rather than prog. Would this is a case of 3 ingredients so wildly different that they don’t mix? Or would this be a new blend altogether?
The lead track and single “Yearning to Fly” does have a bit of Saga when it starts out which is bound to happen. Yet when mixed with Glockler’s drums, it’s more like Saga on steroids. The chorus is instantly memorable and this is what makes Robert Berry a great tune-smith. It’s a great song with some really cool playing. “China” has a really meaty riff from Crichton and has an urgency to it that always works for me. The solo bounces off the walls but still suits the song. That’s the key with this album. It’s about the SONGS. All three are talented players which is important for the genre but if you don’t have the songs, who cares how well you can play?
The 8 minute “Reason to Feel Calm Again” starts with a solo spot for Crichton. And he reminds me once again why I love this man’s style. You know who it is. When the track kicks in, it almost has a tribal feel based on the choice of percussion and how the original guitar part is subsequently featured. This is a unique track with plenty of passion and power. The middle section reminds the listener that this is a prog band. Strap in. And the song ultimately exits as it started. A cool mini epic. Another asset to this band is Berry’s bass playing, as evident on “The Upside of Down.” There’s no instrument the man can’t play! But wow the bass on this is just amazing (great synths by him too). And cowbell! Thanks, Nigel. The track is a great rocker. As is the next track “Casino.” It’s one great song after another.
The short acoustic track “Live Forever” is a nice change of pace which is well placed in the album. That sets up the rocking “The Last Words on Earth” so well. “Skyfall” has a cool dramatic synth riff that really makes the song for me. Plus a killer Crichton solo just adds to it, and of course it fits the song. What does the album need now? A ballad? “Battle of a Lifetime” starts off sounding like it’s going to be a typical ballad before finding a bit of a groove. The key to this song is the duo guitar solos: one is mellow and the other a brain bender. The album closes with the other single “Save the Night.” The main riff after the chorus is the other near Saga moment. And yes I love it! Just a killer closing number.
The debut self titled album by SiX BY SiX is defintely a rocking album. It also answers all my concerns about if these three would gel musically. This is a fully realized band that proves supergroups can still be incredibly exciting. SiX BY SiX is the sound of three virtuosos melting into a true force to be reckoned with. While all three have other bands and projects, hopefully this is not just a one off project but the start of a long musical relationship!
Available here: https://SixBySixBand.lnk.to/SixBySix
Release Date: 19 August 2022