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Travelling beyond the metal frontiers - 72%

holydiver, August 6th, 2003

Well, that’s is a nice surprise. If you are familiar with the previous release, “Light of Day, Day of Darkness”, it’d be difficult to detect obvious continuity with the new album. Their previous release, if it wasn’t for the extremity of 60 minutes in one-track plus the pressured epic overtones, could be described as a masterpiece. However, “A blessing in disguise” is like an expression of gratitude and respect towards the influences of the group. This is mostly a tribute to the German progressive rock scene of the ‘70s together with a sincere “hail” to all atmospheric metal bands of Norway. An ambitious mixing of styles, supported by sorrowful lyrics, flirting with all the dramatic elements that reminds us of the sounds of Anathema or Amorphis in many ways– for example “Lullaby for Winter” could easily be written by Anathema. Overall the result may not impress us with genuine ideas, yet is very intriguing. The keyboards – Hammond Organ, are bringing back rock memories while the compositions are constantly experimental towards more contemporary styles thanks to the vast musicianship of former-Emperor, Tchort, who seems to know how to preserve his reputation. His guitars are technical, full of energy and passion. In terms of production, I think the appropriate “emotion” is missing, yet it very perceptive. Nordus does a great job with vocals, without exaggerating. In terms of songwriting, “Into Deep” and “As Life Flows By” reflect the concept of well-balanced variety. The apparent gothic approach in “Writings on the Wall” dwells on Paradise Lost sound. “Rain” stands on the edge of melancholy but gets stronger thanks to an innovative finale.
Generally this album offers rich and sophisticated melodies, adjusted to the authentic progressive forms and becomes easily accessible by the average listener. If you expect to find a typical metal album here, don’t bother. But when the rock nostalgia prevails, this is a good choice.