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Goldenseed > Collector of Illusions > Reviews > bayern
Goldenseed - Collector of Illusions

How Bizarreness and Eccentricity Can Cheat Death - 86%

bayern, April 2nd, 2019

To be perfectly objective, the “progressive death metal” tag given here only covers the band’s debut; there’s very little death metal on the other three instalments. The album reviewed here is, naturally, the first death cheater and is also a fairly unique, standalone entry within the progressive metal genre the conglomerate of influences and nuances not encountered elsewhere, I mean served in the same bizarrely assembled way.

The Italian scene has become synonymous with the avant-garde and the eclectic (Ephel Duath, Psychofagist, Illogo, Prophexy, Incoming Cerebral Overdrive, Garden Wall, etc.) in the new millennium these visionary acts stretching the boundaries of progressive metal familiarity in all possible directions, gloriously continuing the legacy of old-timers like Jester Beast, Headcrasher, Braindamage… yeah, the unorthodox has been running for quite some time on Italian soil, but in the past ten years it has nearly become commonplace over there, all for the better.

Gabriele Pala, a former guitarist of the progressive deathsters Karnak, decides that he should play a more prominent role on that scene, and in the late-90’s he splits from his comrades and founds the band under scrutiny here. The debut doesn’t stray too far from the intricate labyrinthine feats of Karnak being a really captivating progressive thrash/death opus with black metal and other currents more or less insistently applied. A strong first showing that initially seemed like an isolated stint since it took Pala, the only musician involved in the project, whole eight years to produce a sequel.

Talking about faithful follow-ups, this one here is anything but. This is a much further-reaching amalgam with death, thrash and black metal a distant memory save for a few very episodic more aggressive passages largely featured on the abstract surreal mind-fucker “De Profundis Clamavi Ad Te Domine”. Pala strictly follows the stream-of-consciousness approach to song-writing which takes him all around the music spectre, but in a strangely compelling listenable manner. He chooses the ethereally galloping gimmick initially on “Broken Down Place”, a piece full of illogical time-signatures and yet amazingly preserving the gallops for a large portion of the time, a least ordinary tractate that could fit into any of the two Slauter Xstroyes outings. The man doesn’t strain himself behind the mike too much but his relaxed, even plain stoned at times, clean croon suits the bizarre musical setting, recalling Dave Mustaine, becoming less attached and semi-declamatory on the calmer balladic material (the twisted abstract serenities “Die Konigin”, “Limbo”).

Yes, this is progressive metal for sure but don’t expect to predict correctly which direction the album will swing on each subsequent song as again a wide gamut has been covered, from the jazzy neuroticism of later-period Sieges Even (“Where The River Ends”) to the mazey psychotic configurations of Psychotic Waltz (“Fragments Of Memory”), to some truly imposing, surreally officiant doomy vistas (the sprawling closer “The Game”) the latter coming as a crooked, not very legitimate marriage between Confessor and the guy’s compatriots Black Hole. Pala doesn’t spare the repertoire of Spastic Ink. and Watchtower, either, on arguably the finest compositions “Charade” and “Chaos Within” where the restless fretboard provides myriad hectic jarring rhythms some of which touch the thrashy palette, but due to the constant tempo shifts nothing conspicuously aggressive gets stirred as, like the title of that last cut says, it’s all one big stylized chaos that Pala has served the fanbase, one that will require multiple listens until all motifs and nuances settle in.

As an omnipresent semblance of normality Pala’s excellent lead guitar work should be mentioned, the man excelling in his axeman skills, easily reaching Shrapnel heights on quite a few inspired moments. Said pyrotechnics soar above the sea of original, even innovative if you like, not very easy to swallow musicalities that predate similarly-styled eye-opening recordings like Garden Wall’s "Assurdo” and Prophexy’s “Alconauta”, both Italy-spawned. Yes, progressive metal has started sailing towards galaxies far far away, and our hero here has all the claims to be one of its premier flagmen. Some may argue that this path leads towards the too abstract, bordering on the incomprehensive, realm but at this sophomore stage Pala can’t be blamed for drastically changing the name of the game although one never knew what would be cooked on future endeavours and how far off-the-beaten-track the man would vote to venture.

Well, he chose to give more freedom to his guitar virtuoso passions with the all-instrumental saga “The War Is in My Mind” five years later which didn’t contain too many eccentric decisions, merging with the works of other guitar heroes; a professionally done but hardly exceptional effort that was left without a follow-up for another five years when “The Astral Hologram” appeared. No more instrumental variations on that one but the delivery wasn’t as exciting as before Pala settling for modern progressive metal of the minimalistic, less flashy type, steering clear of any truly eclectic arrangements.

In other words, this second coming here remains the last impressive release so far from the band’s not very long discography, a bold hint at what could happen on the progressive metal roster if other valiant musicians vote to join this left-hand-path fray. And I believe that Pala himself hasn’t said his final word yet… what is a flagman for if not to support and encourage the rest of the troupe? Stiff minimalistic pageants won’t do the trick, man… give us some more of those unpredictable quirky bizarre sounds, will you!