HGR CD Review: Progmium

PROGMIUM – PROJECT DIAGNOSIS (The Project Diagnosis Foundation) Every so often, we are reminded that music can be a therapeutic and healing force. The band project Progmium is the culmination of Hollidaysburg-based lyricist Tim Surkovich’s therapeutic journey through the adversity of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and the Project Diagnosis CD musically documents that journey. Seventy-five percent of proceeds from sales of the disc go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Conceived during sleepless nights after learning he was stricken with MS, Surkovich wrote lyrics about his struggle, and assembled the cast of singer Randy Sciarrillo, lead guitarist/keyboardist J. Luis Morales, bassist Rob Cunningham and drummer/keyboardist Dave Shaffer to bring his song ideas to life. Surkovich and Progmium crafted a modern progressive rock opera over Project Diagnosis’ dozen tracks, generating a style and sound often reminiscent of Dream Theater, Pink Floyd and Queensryche’s peak Operation: Mindcrime/Empire period. The arrangements vary from full-bodied rockers to sullen introspective journeys, often bridged together with mood-setting interludes. After the brief intro “Through My Eyes” sets the tone of one of Surkovich’s many middle-of-the-night lyric-writing sessions, the driving rocker “Invincible” describes what he thought he was prior to the diagnosis; a former high school football player and band member, an active “man made of steel.” But that reality changes with “Numb,” about awakening with one side of his body numb; the first attack of multiple sclerosis. “Diagnosis” documents Surkovich’s thoughts and emotions as he is informed of his debilitating condition, and “Denial” describes his struggles with coming to grips with his situation. Clocking in at more than nine minutes, “The Beast Within” reveals the double-edged sword that was Surkovich’s initial steroid treatments – and their undesirable side effects. The acoustic-driven ballad “Glimmer of Hope” depicts how modern medicine can provide light at the end of the tunnel. The brute-force “Rejected” boils over with Surkovich’s frustration over what MS has done to his life, before the somber “Alone” accepts that new life’s reality. The uplifting “As I Am” takes stock of loved ones’ support through the ordeal, before “Take Up the Fight” offers a message of hope to anybody else dealing with a chronic illness or other adversity. The songs are well-crafted and hook-laden, and Progmium delivers them with heart and soul; Sciarrillo packs emotion into his vocals, and the rest of the group tightly executes the detailed arrangements. Produced by the band and Shaffer, Project Diagnosis sounds full and powerful, with the band’s components sounding clear and distinct. Project Diagnosis is an engaging, electrifying listen; a well-compiled documentation of one man’s ordeal with multiple sclerosis. Hopefully, this CD will enlighten listeners to the realities of this chronic illness, while financially assisting in the quest to someday find a cure. (The CD can be purchased through the website www.progmium.com.)