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How is it possible that the Ayreon albums are so well executed and balanced and most of the other projects fronting Arjen Anthony Lucassen lack any of these characteristics? Stream of Passion consists of members that Arjen struggled to gather round from Mexico and Europe, but as interesting as this band formation may seem like, the outcome of their creativity does not meet the higher expectations I had before getting into this project. It is a project all right that, interestingly enough, became a self-supporting band, after Arjen left it. Proof for that, Stream of Passion released another album in 2009, without Arjen.
“Embracing the storm” starts promising, as the first three songs really succeed to deliver. “Spellbound” and “Passion” are those songs which embrace atmosphere (through synths, pianos, and the extremely talented vocalist) and metal (which, pretty much is buried under the layer of synths and pianos, but there are guitar solos that can be spotted). I don’t know why people called it progressive metal, as there is no actual progression here. Somewhere in the middle of the record, “Haunted” and “Wherever you are” section, the album drastically falls down. The vocalist is indeed talented, but must she complain about her depression all the time? “Haunted” stands as a good example for that. “Wherever you are” is boring, but at least we have a guitar solo somewhere in the middle of the track and a touching piano section in the end.
Other song that comes to mind is “Nostalgia” which is a ballad sung entirely in Spanish. Pretty touching, but I’ve heard much better than this one. There’s nothing new to it, that’s the point. Another highlight is “Out in the real world”, which is extremely consistent, the most consistent track on the album, the only track that does not lack anything. It’s short, catchy and atmospheric and the vocalist doesn’t whine.
All in all, there are some decent tracks around here, but most of them pretty much inconsistent, in the way that you are tended to hit the skip button too many times during one song till you get to the core of it. My advice is that you should download “Spellbound”, “Passion”, “Nostalgia” and “Out in the real world” if you want to have an easy listening. And by the way, this is not progressive metal by any means. It’s symphonic gothic metal with progressive metal tinges at best.