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Before 'The Parallel Otherworld' even came out, probably during the recordings of the album, Eidolon announced that the album would probably be their last for some time. Of course, the reason for this is that the Drover brothers, the core of the band, are involved with Megadeth now, a band that is undoubtedly very time absorbing. And that's really too bad. Don't get me wrong, I love Megadeth and I wish the Drover brothers all the best with that band, but Eidolon had just gotten rid of one of their most annoying factors; singer Pat Mulock, who made a few songs a torture to listen to, was finally sacked after their last album 'Apostles Of Defiance', in favor of the technically much more capable Nils K. Rue from the Norwegian Prog Metal band Pagan's Mind. I think the Drover brothers and Rue got to know each other via some kind of King Diamond network, as that artist is a big influence they all share.
Nils K. Rue has definitely made this album a major improvement over 'Apostles Of Defiance'. He combines a wider range than his two predecessors with a power that his two predecessors could only dream of. And apparently, the Drover brothers were impressed by his lyrical skills as well, as Shawn Drover, for the first time in Eidolon's history, let go of the lyrics in favor of the singer. That results in lyrics about astral themes, just like in Pagan's Mind, which definitely works for the sound. So with Rue at the helm, Eidolon finally got rid of their weakest link.
However, there are still a couple of weak links Eidolon needs to work on before their enormous talents could fully be displayed. First and foremost, 'The Parallel Otherworld' still suffers from this quite stiff digital drum sound that Shawn Drover seems to prefer. Personally, I think the music would sound a little warmer and more authentic if Shawn tried out a more analog sound. He probably thinks it's more modern this way. Which it is, but more modern doesn't necessarily mean better. Another weak link that needs a little work is that Glen Drover's riffing needs a little more variation. When you listen to the album more often, the identity of the separate songs reveals slowly, but the album might sound a little monotonous upon first listen.
On the bright side, the individual efforts of the musicians as well as the efforts of the band as a whole have greatly improved over the last album. There seems to be a little more flow in the rhythms of Shawn Drover and Adrian Robichaud's bass playing is actually audible very well on this album. I love the sound of it! The song material isn't as strong as the song material on 'Coma Nation' by far, or even the song material on 'Nightmare World', but the overall performance by the band compensates that quite nicely.
The choice of opening with the album's title track seems a strange one, since the song is eleven and a half minutes long and quite progressive. However, the structure of the song makes it a good opener anyway, the first couple of minutes of the song make a wonderful intro for the album, just the combination of the rhythms, the keyboards and the amazing guitar work build up a really nice thing. My only complaint about this song is that it seems to be a few shorter songs in one, just like a few of their previous epics ('Dreamscape' off of 'Nightmare World' comes to mind) the song just stops and a new tranquil part begins. However, Nils K. Rue has probably kept this in mind and based the entire song around this one single theme, letting lyrical and vocal themes return all throughout the song, making a complete unity of it anyway.
My first favorite off of the album is 'Ghost World'. This song has quite epic proportions as well, clocking at seven and a half minutes, but does have that flow I'd like to hear in an epic. The song is a very strong composition, made even stronger by Nils K. Rue's stellar vocal performance. Especially the chorus is a treat for all you vocal freaks out there. Glen Drover's riffs are amazing, as is his short solo near the end of the song. The one in the beginning is really strong as well, but the one near the end is something of those really short, but really powerful deals. One of the highlights of Eidolon's carreer, most definitely.
'Shadowanderer (Ferdamannen)', the last of the band's own compositions on this album is also definitely one of the best songs on the album. 'Shadowanderer' is also a more epic, progressive song, even though Glen Drover's guitar playing is rather thrashy and the rhythms in the song are relatively straightforward. There's this (I guess) Norwegian choir part in the middle of the song that is something quite unique for Eidolon and definitely something they wouldn't have done without Nils' presence. It's followed by this killer '80's Heavy Metal riff. The only things which could be considered really "Prog" is the middle part, where there's a clean guitar and some quite "spacey" vocal melodies and the clean, creeping outro. This song is to me a really interesting one, I didn't even notice it lasted about seven minutes until I checked it. It's just creepy how much Nils sounds like his predecessor Pat Mulock in the chorus, but not nearly as disturbing. The sound is just similar. Once again, a highlight.
But the absolute highlight of 'The Parallel Otherworld', and that may sound strange from a cover-hater as myself, is Eidolon's rendition of the Mercyful Fate classic 'The Oath'! As much as I love the original, there are some factors Eidolon, which consists of huge fans of the work of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, even surpasses on their cover version. Of course, there is the productional side of the whole thing. Then, it was 1984 and now it is 2006, so of course the band has a better produced version of this, with less of an obsession for reverb. Count that to the fact that the original lead guitarists Hank Shermann and Michael Denner play the guitar solos to this track and most of all that Nils K. Rue has the uncanny ability to sound EXACTLY like King Diamond, both in his lower and higher range and what you get is 'The Oath' exactly like Mercyful Fate would make it sound when recorded in 2006. Pagan's Mind's cover of King Diamond's 'At The Graves' (with Glen Drover on lead guitars) was already a really strong one, but Nils K. Rue now has something to be even more proud of.
There's enough to listen to for the fan of any side of Eidolon. The Thrashers will probably be pleased by songs like 'Arcturus # 9' and 'Spirit Sanctuary', the fans of the more tempo Heavy Metal tracks will most likely get their fill by listening to 'Astral Flight' and 'Thousand Winters Old' and the fans of more progressive stuff have 'The Eternal Call' and 'Order Of The White Light' to listen to, but the absolute highlights for me personally are the ones I have just extensively described.
So, 'The Parallel Otherworld' is not what I hoped for, being 'Coma Nation' with a much better singer. In fact, upon first listen, the album was a disappointment and even though I don't regret giving the album a chance, I still think 'Coma Nation' is vastly superior to this one. 'Nightmare World' also has stronger song material than this one. However, after a couple of spins, 'The Parallel Otherworld' reveals more of its secrets and proves to be a solid Eidolon album, which finally gets the vocalist it deserves. Let me conclude with hoping that their involvement with Megadeth won't stop Glen and Shawn Drover from making records with Eidolon, that would be a complete waste of their unlimited talents. Eidolon is Metal in the truest sense of the genre.