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Underappreciated band records another hit. - 89%

TwilightMoonReviews, August 6th, 2009

Artension really does deserve to get more attention than they do, as all of their members are really great musicians and killer songwriters, too. It's too bad that they stopped recording new material after a rather dissapointing final outing, Future World. During the Phoenix Rising era, however, Artension was firing on all cylinders. Their sound is odd in explanation but mesmerizing in an actual listen. It is a sort of neo classical progressive style with some classic rock and blues roots thrown in, which is mostly inspired by one of my favorite vocalists, mastermind John West. John's voice is really powerful, and he surprises sometimes by throwing out some high-pitched notes.

The pack is led by excellent keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij, one of my favorites. He is one of the master songwriters, and he could play at any speed. The keys sound really good on this album production-wise, which may also be because of the fact that Kuprij always picks just the right tone, just the right effect on every song, especially on the title-track. Since the keyboard sound is one of the most substantial elements on Phoenix Rising, this really makes it stand out. Drums are played to par and so is bass, with no special exceptions, just the usual performances. Songwriting is excellent, and it is truly memorable while still being progressive. Don't think this album is exclusively progressive, as some songs like Through the Gate and Blood Brother are straight power.

Just about the only flaw of this album is that some of the songs run way longer than they should. Even a relatively straightforward one such as Area 51 can run between six and eight minutes long. This definitely doesn't wreck the album, however, and it didn't take much of the enjoyment away from me. I've listened to this album about thirty times over the last two years, so I can confirm that it has relistenability, and not having this quality is the main problem most progressive albums have. I suggest that you also get their debut, Into the Eye of the Storm and Forces of Nature as well (the first is amazing, while the latter is on a lesser note). Support the it!