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When I first got a hold of this record, I didn't like it at all. I'm not a big progressive power metal fan, but over time it just made sense. With Chuck during his final years progressing so far with the the songwriting and lyrics, I was hoping for something closer to sounding like Death, but the thing is I expected the unexpected. The riffs and leads are so Chuck totally. You can feel the vibe from him, it's apparent.
We have really slow-paced songs with bar chords galore, a little bit faster guitars on some songs, and the groove really kicks butt. Such atmosphere...awe-inspiring. This time around Chuck is no longer in the vocal department. Tim Aymar took over as Chuck's goal was to put out something totally progressive like Death was, just with a different voice. Tim really sings with vigor and diversity. There's some screaming, but all of the vocals represent the music precisely.
There are a lot of atmospheric effects on this album that augment the whole of Control Denied's release here. The guitars always change around slow tempos and faster tempos, but are totally Chuck. There are acoustic pieces as well. The tempo changes are all over the place. It's a mild metal album with Chuck's solos dominating. Shannon Hamm puts out some good lead work as well, but you could totally tell what was Chuck's.
The lyrics are mainly focused on humanity and society, perfect topics to fit the music. This album has the most progressive power metal that I've ever heard. Rhythm guitars that just dominate with such variety, but the whole album fits together. Some tempos are faster than others and are pretty much all over the place. It reminds me of old Opeth, just not as heavy. The tempos change much like them, though.
I'd say that the strongest elements here would be the music, the vibe, the vocals, and production's sound and quality. Everything here just lets the metal flow. It's a total chill mood release, something to definitely check out if you're a progressive power metal fan. I haven't heard many bands that reflect this genre. It seems like it's pretty much extinct, but I could be wrong. Just to my knowledge, Chuck put together a perfect record with music that's so original and lyrics that fit so well with the music.
If you like power metal in general, even the progressive type, then I think that you would enjoy this release. I'd say any metal fan could like this record. It's perfectly orchestrated and the music is filled with melodic riffs galore. The vocal department works here, not discounting Chuck's efforts with Death at all, though. He made the right choice in selecting Tim Aymar to fill in in this department. Everything just works here. No complaints and a perfect record to chill to and enjoy.