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Surprisingly Good - 87%

SinsAndShadows, May 20th, 2004

I picked up this CD on a whim, which I rarely ever do, and to my surprise and pleasure, I was hooked from the first track. Produced by the promiscuous Frederik Nordstrom, the album's overall sound is progressive power metal, drawing elements from both euopean power metal acts and from proggier bands like Dream Theater, though the first few songs on the CD definately have a more power metal feel to them.

The album starts off with the instumental introduction "Approaching," with a nice organ melody line, before breaking into a catchy guitar and drum riff. Then the keyboards come in to flesh out the driving introduction. This track is full of energy and really sets the mood for the first half of the CD.

The intro leads nicely into the first vocal track "Through Osiris' Eyes." Yes, there is a bit of a concept album going on here, or at least a recurring theme through several songs. The songs starts with a fairly crunchy guitar riff, before the keys take over the melody line. The vocalist (Nils Rue) comes in, sounding like a cross between Geoff Tate from Queensryche and a slightly lower pitched James LaBrie...and like them he seems to have some pitch problems sometimes. It could be intentional, and one you get used to it, I find the unique inflections add to the music. His voice isn't extremely high, but remains firmly in the tenor range. The crunch comes back here in the bridge, where the vocals get raspy nearly to the point of a growl, before leading into the catchy, melodic chorus. Which is another thing the band does very well, catchy as hell choruses. The guitar solo does it's job, but it's nothing you havn't heard before.

The next track, "Entrance: Stargate" seems to borrow lyrically from the movie, but it also contains similar references as the previous track. Anyhow, the song starts off with a nifty riff, and is a bit more drum driven, with a very percussive sound. It slows before the entrance of the vocals and a soft melody line comes in. The first verse is almost lilting, but when the bridge rolls around, they kick it up a notch. The vocal range goes a bit higher on this track, especially on the chorus.

"Of Epic Questions" is one of my favorite songs on this album. Again they have a small organ intro, before going into a drum and guitar groove. You can tell this song is a bit different than it's predecessors from the vocal entrance; they are quite deep, before transitioning back into the previous range. I'd say that overall, the vocals are much more aggressive on this song. This is especially seen in the second verse, where they again approach nearly death metal growls, before returning to melodic power metal vocals on the chorus.

"Dimensions of Fire" has some interesting vocal parts ("construction madneeEahesss"). The music is midpaced through the verses, and comes in strong for the chorus. Solid track, nice chorus. Around 4:30, there is a nifty raspy vocal line, and then the songs repeats the chorus again. Which is one of my only complaints about the CD, and it is a minor one. They repeat the choruses a lot. I don't mind so much, because they sound good, but it can get to be a bit much in repeated listenings (ie, having your CD player on repeat).

In "Dreamscape Lucidity" we have what I'd call the first 'epic' song on the CD. Though not as long as "Dimensions of Fire," which clocks in at a respectable 7:30, there is a certian variance in the music and a sense of a quest to the lyrics. It is a little bit cheesy at points ("We protect these dimensions with our eternal souls..."/"I was sent by Aurora"/"Enter the gate and move on"), but overall pulls off the concept nicely.

For me, things started to slow down around "The Seven Sacred Promises." Which isn't to say the song is slow...merely that it didn't hold my attention as much as the other songs did. Verse, bridge, chorus, verse, rinse, repeat.

And now the instumental "Back to the Magic of Childhood." I'm not one for long instumentals, so I don't trust myself to give an unbiased opinion here. Let's just say that my intrest wanes at this point, and doesn't completely recover until the last track.

"In Brilliant White Light," "Aegean Shores," and "The Prophecy of Pleiades" rounds out the rest of the CD. The final track (at least from 1:30 to 2:30, including the first two verses) is complete and utter Dream Theater worship. In fact it borrows/steals heavily from "Learning to Live" from Images and Words. The song totals nearly 10 minutes, yet is interesting enough so that you don't notice how long the song actually is.

So, if you didn't want to read through all of that writing, and want to skip to the overall recap here it is: Good, solid proggish power metal with catchy choruses and a singer you'll either love or hate.