Sound — 10
"Relayer" was the first Yes album I ever heard, and honestly, I could not have had a better introduction to the band. Yes may have just five members, but on this record, they sound like a symphony. From the second you turn on the first track ("The Gates of Delirium"), you are greeted with some of Steve Howe's most amazing and complex guitar playing ever, Chris Squire giving Howe a run for his money on Bass, beat master Alan White's fills, lead singer Jon Anderson shrieking vocals about the "epic battle,",\ and keyboardist Patrick Moraz adding the symphonic touch. While he doesn't live up to Rick Wakeman, the bands previous virtuoso keyboardist, he does quite a good job focusing on adding some the epic synthesizer effects that make this album so intense, rather than just playing fast. The album's 22 minute masterpeice, "The Gates of Delirium" is intense, beautiful, epic and daring. Anderson's fantasy-filled lyrics, combined with the album's thematic sound transports you back in time, to a "Lord of the Rings"-esque era, in a battle between good and evil. "Gates of Delirium" is divided into three parts: "The Introduction," "The Battle," and "Soon." I'll break them down: "Introduction": With Howe's, White's, Moraz's, and Squire's instrumental artistry, and Jon Anderson's mystical vocal and lyrics, you know you're in for a good one. "The Battle": All instrumental middle section. Howe shines in particular here, with what is literally the most amazing guitar playing I've ever heard. If you tilt your head back and close your eyes, the epic battle comes to life. "Soon": I... have no words. This finale of the song is absolutely beautiful. Moraz's mellow synth, Howe's echoing guitar, and Anderson's great lyrics and singing are absolutely stunning. An amazing finale to an amazing song, I can't imagine there was a dry eye in the studio when the recorded this. The albums other two tracks, "Sound Chaser," and "To Be Over," are also good compositions. With "Sound Chaser" being an instrumental piece, mimicking the jazz fusion band from that era Mahavishnu Orchestra, and "To Be Over," another complex guitar masterwork by Howe.
Lyrics — 8
I can non-judgmentally that a lot of people will not like Jon Anderson's voice. It is so high pitched and different from most other singing voices that some people may even find his annoying. However, if you like other high pitched sounding vocalists like Geddy Lee, Robert Plant, and Burke Shelley, you may like his vocals. Whether you like Anderson or not, you can't deny the fact that he is the perfect singer for this album. His mystical high pitched singing style perfectly fits in with the medieval theme and adds to the epic storytelling the album masterfully presents. In my opinion the lyrics of this song portray the story better than a straightforward book would have.
Overall Impression — 10
One of the things I love about this album is that it's not simply an album. It is a dynamic, amazing piece of art. From its fantastic, storytelling through some of the most impressive, beautiful, and intricate music you'll ever hear, to it's incredibly dense lyrics about the futility of warfare, and battles between good and evil, this is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard in my life. In the end I recommend this to anyone who loves classic, and progressive rock. In the fact, this music is so complex that I would even recommend classical music fans to check it out. I'm sure they wouldn't be disappointed.