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Progressive metal is a very interesting genre. When by it, it lets out all of the virtuosity of a musician or band as a whole, see Dream Theater, they have let their skill go out without a fail in every single opus they have released. When it is mixed with another genre, like in the case of Adagio, it conserves the progressive paraphernalia and mixes it with the base elements of the other genre, thus creating something that works up amusement easily. Generally the genres have already been tried out, which is basically the reason for Adagio being compared so much to the progressive power metal gods, Symphony X. However, I consider Adagio has done nothing but taken influence from them, as a band that follows a similar genre usually does, and follow their own path in this symphonic divergence of Symphony X's genre, and the clear proof of it is this album, Sanctus Ignís.
Looking for a new band to follow, I ran into Adagio's Underworld. While I think the band had a lot of talent, I felt it was too ornamented and needed less of it, so guided by experience I thought about looking for their debut album, since most debuts don't have so much ornamentation most of the time, and I found Sanctus Ignís. Adagio here manages to show off full talent of all of their musicians, remarkably more of Forté (it's his band after all), Andersson and Readman. The rhythmic part of the guitar tends to follow a very steady way, and quite able to present the similarities with Symphony X in some moments, mainly when mixed with the keyboard's strings. Readman's voice is another similar point to Symphony X... wait, I don't want to compare them, so let me describe more. Readman's voice is usually not high pitched, but he has the ability to take it to some really sharp notes, this can be noticed ever since the opening track, Second Sight. Other qualities of his voice are the the persistent gritty tone and the amount of power he applies into his singing. He is quite perfect for the band, and I say this having only heard Gus Monstanto as other singer for them (he is great for them too, don't get me wrong). Andersson is an outstanding keyboardist. He intends most of the time to help with strings or pads, as he also uses an organ for a few unisons with Forté, for example in The Stringless Violin, on fills or small interludes. On other moments, when it's his turn for soloing, he goes out full range. He has fast piano solos, harpsichord solos and, of course, synth solos. All of them are equally amazing but not as common as each other, the latter being the most frequent. Stéphan has some fairly... bah, not fairly; his solos are out of this world. He is an extremely fast shredder and knows how to apply good rhythmics to the solos, as well as he adds feeling to them. More than anything, his playing was what got me into the band.
The progressive elements are very present in this album. It's easy to find in all songs sudden rhythmic separations, common in modern prog metal, done by the guitars, drums and the almost unlistenable bass. Fitting more in the symphonic side of Adagio there is the absurd amount of strings that make up the intros and most of the openings for instrumental sections on songs, as well as escorts for some solos, be it guitar solos or keyboard solos. The symphonies are more common on the band's second album, though, as well as ornamentations from these. The song on this album with the hugest presence of symphonies is by far Seven Lands of Sin. The mix of both genres, however, brings up the surpassing solos, similar and sometimes better than those of their resembled band, Symphony X.
This album's mix is remarkable as well. Most of the time, albums nowadays aim for an amazing music quality, but this is not this album's point. It looks forward much more into making the voice, guitars and keyboards to stand out. The voice's agent is evident because of how it comes out much more in the choruses or in parts where a choir is included. The guitars take over the sound to par with the keyboards when they shouldn't actually sound so loud, and the keyboards, of course, they need to stand out because of the genre.
I consider this album to be much better than their critically acclaimed Underworld because it is not over-ornamented and is therefore more easy to keep listening to, while it still conserves that darkness and mystery that is present in all Adagio's works (or at least until Dominate). I recommend it a lot for solo fans, you will find the most amazing solos in this album, in all songs. If you are a fan of Symphony X you might like them a lot because of the similarities or hate them because of being a wannabe version, as people tend to call them. It's among my favorite albums right now, and well, if you find it don't hesitate about buying it.
Highlights: "Second Sight", "In Nomine", "The Stringless Violin", "Seven Lands of Sin", "Sanctus Ignís".