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Hail to the king, baby!!! - 91%

hells_unicorn, February 26th, 2012

Lance King is no mere vocalist, nor can he really be pigeonholed as a simple entrepreneur with a passion for his craft, but is rather a purveyor of some rather impressive note. His entrance into the metal world in the early 90s might seem ironic to someone who has a basic understanding of the decline going on at that point and time in the metal scene, but when considering the ongoing progressive metal upsurge taking place and King’s own independent tendencies (he turned down an impressive contract in his early days in order to form his own label), it was the perfect time for his quest to keep the old ways pure and also fresh. But despite the long run as a lone wolf operation, Lance didn’t quite have the heart to coin a project after himself, until just recently.

Dispensing now with the history lesson, the fruits of King’s first solo venture could be summed up as an impressive mixture of past efforts, playing the conservative side of the progressive coin and maintaining a clear cut song set in a conceptual format. The plotline is a bit more introspective than the outward fantasy and sci-fi trappings of King’s work with Pyramaze and Avian, the latest of his former projects, but the music itself is not too far off from the grooving, down tempo power metal with a heavy dose of keyboard driven atmosphere that dominated both. Some may liken this to an equivalent to Ayreon due to the heavy roster of guest spots, but musically the contents reveal something quite similar to Pagan’s Mind, as is hinted by the similar shade of blue dominating the album art.

The principle focus of this album, as tends to be the case with most projects King has helmed, is the voice leading the charge. Anyone not familiar with it will all but instantly note a rather poignant reinterpretation of James Labrie and Geoff Tate, not to mention that his voice has aged far better than either of them as evidenced by this little gem of an album. Even at its most simplistic, notably the catchy anthems in “Dance For Power” and “Manifest Destiny” that heavily resemble King’s work with Balance Of Power, his voice meshes perfectly with the predictable harmonic structure and makes for a transcendental experience. Competency in the instrumental department has never really been a problem for anyone involved in King’s projects, but here technique is showcased, but not quite flaunted in an overt fashion typical to other bands of this persuasion.

There are a handful of ebbs within this otherwise consistent flow, mostly manifesting in slow developing ballad material that intermingles with the more enticing groove and up tempo metallic elements. “Kibou” is the only noticeable weak link in the otherwise enduring chain, resting in a relatively elaborate yet subdued piano line that reminds of a Styx song, and even Lance’s voice can’t help but occasionally sound like Dennis DeYoung, but rambling about some abstract socio-political ponderings rather than a rudimentary declaration of love to some unnamed woman. Other songs like “Infinity Divine” (I told you the Pagan’s Mind influences were obvious) and the epic title song “A Moment In Chiros” have ballad elements, but use them more sparingly and in a more animated fashion to bolster the impending fist of destiny that is about to pop the listener square in the chin.

While some might miss the days when King helmed Pyramaze, this is a suitable substitute to reliving the majesty of “Legend Of The Bone Carver”, not to mention one that is likely to win over a few non-power metal fans itching for something a tad bit closer to Dream Theater. It’s a bit more reserved and easier to follow than the wandering stylistic ventures of “Images And Words”, but it gets dangerously close to emulating the same quality level, and also rivals the auspicious return to form that is “Heavenly Ecstasy” out of Pagan’s Mind. In spite of Lance’s blatant “love them and leave them” attitude towards his various projects, my hope is that he gets around to at least one more album with this current flock he’s assembled, if only since it allows him truly unchain his voice from the confines of another melodic architect and that his lyrical abilities are a cut above the rest.

Later submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 23, 2012.