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I can't believe how unknown this band is, it SHOULD have a massive following like Dream Theater. I mean, these guys are fucking PIONEERS of prog metal in general. Let me explain their soud a little: take Images and Words ear Dream Theater, remove the keyboards a replace them with a second guitar, and add in some power metal influences. NOW remember that this album came out in 1992, which is the same year Images and Words came out. Another thing that makes this amazing is that the singer, Eduard Hovinga, reminds one of none other than James LaBrie. He's not a clone, but the similarities are there.
Anyway, this album is chock full of crazy guitar antics, in the form of both insane solos and some nice meaty riffs. I wouldn't say that the stuff they do could be classified as wankery, but they definitely toe the line at some points, especially during the two instrumentals. Fortunately, the songs don't meander through meaningless masturbatory instrumental parts like later-period DT, but manage to cram in plenty of impressive chops into reasonable song lengths. Another thing that needs to be mentioned is that these songs are usually quite fast, and they rarely slow down, rarely dropping below the faster side of midpaced.
The guitars are excellent, provided by the talented Henk Laars and Arno Van Brussel. The riffs are good, fast, and the solos are great and even faster. They also do cool unison solos which kick much ass. But don't worry about them getting at all top-heavy, for every good solo, there are easily two good riffs. A definite trademark of this band are the stop-start parts, which defnitely add something (no, this isn't lame Pantera-style "Walk" crap).
The vocals, as I've said before, bear a resemblence to James LaBrie, but Eduard Hovinga usually sings higher than LaBrie, and though I'm not 100% sure, I'd say he's got a bigger range too. His voice isn't as powerful as it could be, but he suits the music just fine, and he's definitely capable. He frequently makes use of multi-tracking for choruses and such, and while it doesn't come close to John Arch's level of awesomeness, it still works, and is quite well-done in its own right. The lyrics are a little cheesy, and are most often "rock" type lyrics, dealing with borken hearts and love and stuff. They're usually pretty straightforward, at least compared to DT, but don't really get me going. "The sound of a bro-oo-oken heart"-chorus is quite cheesy, but it's a good song otherwise, so it's forgivable. I don't care much about lyrics anyway.
The drums are good, and tempo- and time-signature-changes abound, and again the stop-start thing is well orchestrated. Serge Meeuwsen varies quite a lot, and uses some nice double-bass in parts, but doesn't overuse anything. He's talented, but not too much of a show-off, which in a prog band is nice.
The bass: well, thanks to the production, you can't hear it too much, which is a shame, because when you can, Martin Helmantel is usually doing something cool. During the solos, he's audible, and displays prowess, but during the riffs, he usually gets buried. Oh well.
The production could be better, but for an underground power/prog band out of the Netherlands, it could be a LOT worse too. The lower end is kind of muffled, with the bass and drums suffering, but the guitars and vocals are nice and up-front. Like I said, it could be better, but it's not really anything to complain about considering how much worse it could be.
Overall, this is a great album, that got totally overlooked (most likely thanks to being from the Netherlands). Really, these guys deserve a share of all the ridiculous amounts of success and acclaim that Dream Theater's been getting, and though I haven't heard any of their later stuff, I'll definitely be checking it out. Their older material might be hard to find, but I picked this album up pretty cheap used in Berlin. Anyway, if you like power/prog metal, and are willing to put up with some kind of sappy lyrics, you'll enjoy this album. It took me a while to get into it, but now I love it.