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Mike Dimeo is a singer that admittedly I'm a late bloomer to. I've never really been a big fan of Riot, so whenever anyone would mention Mike as one of the top tier metal singers my immediate reaction was more along the lines of "Meh" rather than "fuck yeah." Then that brilliant third Masterplan album came out, the one-shot where he replaced Jorn Lande, a guy I thought was completely and utterly irreplaceable, especially in that band. So when I heard of a new band being put together that puts him as the frontman of a progressive metal band (think Dream Theater at their absolute ballsiest for an entire album) featuring the lead guitarist from James Labrie's solos band and members of...um...Zandelle (really?)...well, I was intrigued at the least. Oh, and did I mention the disc was produced by one John Macaluso, the genius drummer who at various points has pounded the skins for the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, Ark, among others, and mixed by Mr. Neil fucking Kernon?!?
I know that the number one thing any progmetal band hates is to be compared to any of the big three, but the music is definitely cut from the same fabric as Dream Theater at it's downright unapologetically heaviest. Centering around your standard 4/4 time signatures with the occasional branching into 7/8. 5/4, and whatever else can weave itself into the mix, combined with some downright abrasive riffage, they can really dish out the heaviness, but thankfully they hold back on the jamming for the most part (obvious exception in "Still Life" though still effin' rocks!!!). Some riffs pop up from time to time that really owe themselves to some of the classic metal riffage out there (there's a breakdown that is almost exactly Dream Theater's "Lie" riff in "Of Shadow and Flame," and "World Holocaust" has a harmony lead that could have just as easily been copped from the mighty Priest's "Hellion"), but if you can get past those momentary slights to history, you're in for a great prog metal album. As for Mike, he has never sounded so downright...I dunno...fuckin' METAL! I mean it...he sounds downright pissed at times and this is from the same upbeat glimmer of power metal hopefulness that gave us "Angel Eyes" and "I'm Gonna Win".
As full of prog-metal cliches as this album is, it is wonderfully represented by the musician's talents and the producer's/engineer's immense talents to the point where by the time you listen to it a second and third time, you start to not care about how it seems to have been done before and you instead lose yourself in the occasional hook that Mike gives us and the stomping riffs coming forth. If you dig your metal noodley, you need to check this band out...if nothing else just to say you did.