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Extra points for execution... - 86%

asmox, November 15th, 2006

With the legions of shameless keyboa... I mean, progressive metal bands out there that feel no guilt in duplicating the formulas brought to light by their progenitors, you'd think that there might be one or two that actually manage to bring something new to the table... and you'll probably still be thinking the very same thing by the time the sun goes supernova and takes out the galaxy as we know it.

Andromeda really don't bring much of anything to the table that can be considered new. Their music is beyond blatant and completely derivative of standard order progressive metal - guitar/keyboard duels, massive unisons, incredible guitar heroics, extended instrumental interludes, an exceptionally precise and tight rhythm section, and so forth. However, even though there's not much you haven't heard here from a musical standpoint, it must be said that these guys perform with such immense drive and intensity that the same old shit manages to sound like something utterly new and mind-blowing.

Guitarist Johan Reinholdz is the resident attention whore. He overplays to the extreme. Fortunately, Johan's immaculate sense of melody, captivating note choice, band synergy, and sheer technical prowess are all so tasteful and perfect that I simply cannot bring myself to reprimand him. I fell in love with his guitar from the first seconds of the first song on this album, "The Words Unspoken", with that impossible series of notes that could have been the backdrop to the sun rising over a sprawling cybernetic landscape, or the preface to some epic conflict. Martin Hedin on keyboards goes for a very futuristic sound throughout the album, thankfully avoiding the realm of pure cheese - for the most part anyway.

Drummer Thomas Lejon stands aside from many drummers in this genre. In fact, after spinning this disc a dozen or so times, I came to the realization that the drums here actually carry the album in ways that are initially obscured by the massive guitar presence. Thomas has a history of playing with highly technical and rhythmically atypical bands, and he molds his impressive abilities to Andromeda's music in a way that empowers the entire band and grabs the listener indefinitely, never humbling himself to such an extent that the music turns into a one-dimensional display of instrumental wankery. You won't hear him fade into the background while Johan solos his arms off - instead, he will consistently apply interesting off-time foot patterns, stellar cymbal work, and various rhythmic irregularities. This, along with his leanings toward non-repetition, prevents the music from becoming stale and monotonous.

This album is easily recommendable to Dream Theater fans, but that recommendation doesn't really do this band justice. Andromeda display a sense of substance, synergy, and excitement that's lacking in a vast majority of DT clones - they stand on a tier of their own within the genre.