In the summer of 1998, three long time friends from Middletown, Ohio set out to perpetuate a musical style pioneered by such bands as Rush, Yes, Dream Theater, and other progressive rock artists.
The result was Perspective, featuring Rod Middleton on guitars and vocals, Chris Matthews on bass, keyboards, pedals, and vocals, and Ben Burton on drums, percussion, and vocals. The three founding members attended Middletown High School, and were, in fact, all graduates in 1987. Though Perspective would not be conceived until nearly a decade later, they had often spoken about how satisfying it could be to someday create a project molded in the image of their musical heroes.
Rod began playing guitar at the age of 13, and was quickly enthralled by the creative aspect of music. This led to the formation of the crude, yet, at the time, satisfying two-man outfit called Allied Force with Chris in 1985. The songwriting left a bit to be desired; Chris actually was the lead vocalist and would not even pick up a bass for the first time until a year later...but the road had been forged.
Meanwhile, Ben, who at this point was already an accomplished piano and trumpet player, was honing his drumming skills in rock, jazz, and other styles. Over the next two years, he and Rod found themselves in two bands together: the short-lived Curse, and Noyz, the band in which they actually performed together live for the first time on July 4, 1987. As with Curse, their stint with Noyz was also very brief; however, the two would embark on several other recording projects in the years ahead, including Menagerie and Havoc. In 1990, they recorded a three-song instrumental demo that was praised by John Stix at Guitar Magazine, helping to solidify Rod’s passion and confidence in creating instrumental music.
From 1991 through 1998, while Rod was busy performing in two Cincinnati based cover bands, Aberrent and Straight Up, and helping to create his industrial metal side project, Jagged Doctrine, Chris and Ben were pursuing other musical projects together: the bands Broken Silence in 1994, and from 1995 to 1998. For those in the progressive rock genre, one might have described The Neapolitan Orchestra by the term "space rock", very ambient, very textural. This band would probably be considered the closest to date in musical similarity to Perspective. The Orchestra’s cd, "Almost Syrup", was regarded highly by many on-line progressive rock album review sites.
As Straight Up and The Neapolitan Orchestra drew to a close, it became apparent to finally bring everything full circle. It was now 1998, and it seemed time for the three to create the most self-satisfying, and perhaps, most self-indulgent project in which they had ever taken part. Since their musical "points of view" differed so greatly from those of many others in the Cincinnati/Dayton area, the name Perspective worked very nicely.
Writing began shortly thereafter on the band’s first cd, "Coming Into Focus". Recorded in 1999 at On-Line Studio in Cincinnati (where the following two discs would also be recorded), the album features six epic progressive rock and metal tunes, containing many long, intricate instrumental passages with complex time signature and tempo changes. Combined with thought provoking lyrics and at times even a commercially viable vocal hook, these songs would lay the foundation for Perspective’s sound for many years to come. The cd was received well, as songs from the album were downloaded many hundreds of times over the then extremely popular mp3.com. "Coming Into Focus" even garnered 14 out of a possible 16 stars in the spring/summer 2000 issue of Progression Magazine (issue 35).
Perspective performed original music exclusively until early 2001, when vocalist Johnny Ledford joined the band. At this point, they began to mix the originals with cover tunes, performing for larger audiences in the Cincinnati area.
By the spring of 2004, much of the music for a follow-up disc had been written, when Johnny decided to leave the band to pursue other interests. Once again, the three original members were required to take control of the lead vocalist duties, as they had done on "Coming Into Focus".
"Progressions" was released in late 2004, bridging the gap between "Coming Into Focus" and what would eventually become "Shadow of Doubt". "Progressions" includes four tracks from the previous album, plus three new songs that Johnny recorded before leaving the band. Writing then concluded for "Shadow of Doubt", "Shadow of Doubt" contains two re-mixed tracks from "Progressions" with Johnny on lead vocals, five songs with Rod and Ben on lead vocals, and two instrumentals.
"Shadow of Doubt" is not merely an album title; it is, indeed, a concept. Drawing from influences spanning the entire planet, the album explores rock music, jazz, reggae, and countless other musical styles. Instruments played on the disc range from the typical guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards, to the atypical: Fatar midi and Moog Taurus pedals, electronic and latin percussion, mandolin, dulcimer, banjo...even sampling is utilized.
In July of 2008, Perspective (now known as Perspective X IV) released the "Shadow of Doubt" CD with progressive rock label, Nightmare Records.
Perspective X IV continues to move in interesting and challenging new directions, musically and lyrically. The band is in the final mixing stages of their fourth album "Attrition." This release will be out in 2015.