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Many bands have taken death metal beyond it's roots. Cynic expanded it by fusing it with jazz and prog metal on "Focus", Dripping expanded their slam death metal sound by mixing it with classical acoustic guitar, keyboards, and hip-hop beats on "Disentigration of Thought Patterns", Fleshgod Apocalypse expanded it on "Oracles" by literally mixing classical music into their sound, and so on. But despite this progression, there still remains a particular focus on the more death metal side on those albums. I don't have a problem with that, as it makes sense because it's death metal, but I've always wondered what it would be like if a band truly bathed their sound in another genre to create an album featuring equal elements of both.
As if he had read my thoughts, Dan Swano pumped out this bad boy, which is one of the most innovative albums I have ever heard. Yes, this is death metal, but it is just as much a death metal album as it is a prog rock album. The death metal side relies heavily on the vocals, while the prog rock sound relies mostly on the keyboards. The guitars are mostly a cohesion of these two styles, which never ceases to amaze me.Dan sings in the death grunted style we hear in most death metal. His vocals are guttural roars with extreme power and anger behind them, and are similar to Mikael Akerfeldt's growls in Opeth. A couple times on this album he'll let them go and let out a few lines of clean vocals though, although those times are rare. His clean vocals aren't the emotional, beautiful clean vocals heard in Opeth, but instead are more blues sounding, which fit well at the ending of "Add Reality".
His lyrics are something to marvel at, with every song focusing on a totally different topic. "Uncreation" is about the end of the world, while "Add Reality" is about Dan's girlfriend. We also have some innovative ideas here, with "Creating Illusions" focusing on use of computers in music and "In Empty Phrases" focusing on Dan's lack of confidence with the pen and paper. "The Big Sleep" is also a very interesting song, focusing on Dan's fear of death. There is a certain amount of reality in these lyrics that you won't find in many other places, and I suggest you read them. Unlike most progressive death metal bands, who are prog by definition, Swano is prog by sound as well as by definition. His songs have that catchy upbeat prog rock sound that really makes you want to sing/growl along with him if you know what I mean, which further shows the Rush influence.
It's a hell of an album to behold, especially in these days when death metal bands are more or less copying of each other. Buy this now if you like progressive metal, you will NOT be disappointed.