Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Step by Step Towards the Twilight Zone - 97%

bayern, May 22nd, 2017

I hated this album when it came out in 1990. It took me a while to get over the fact that “Life Cycle II” was simply not going to happen… which I should have foreseen if I was in pace with the transformational trends at the time. But I wasn’t, and I was so saddened by that fact that I deleted the album reviewed here on the same day recording Forbidden’s “Twisted into Form” on top of it. I remember the guy at the studio asking me whether this was the same cassette that I had brought a few hours earlier…

later in the 90’s I read several reviews that were praising this effort sky-high proclaiming it a milestone in the progressive metal genre; in fact, this is one of the few albums about which I’ve never read a negative review. Which makes it all the bigger the mystery why no one has sat down to pen a few lines about it here… anyway, better late than never, and here I am “toiling” over the third Sieges Even review I’ll have written for the archives. Needless to add, I learnt to tolerate this effort since this is music of the highest order. It’s just that the transition from “Life Cycle” was too radical for one to get used to it on the first several listens. Actually, the band sound like an entirely new outfit here with an approach quite removed from the exquisite multi-layered progressive thrashing of “Life Cycle”. There had to be a mediator, an album which had retained some of the previous aggression, something like Spiral Architect’s “A Sceptic’s Universe” (this album owes a lot to early Sieges Even), rather than this direct descent into introspective, deeply atmospheric music…

a quiet violin-driven intro bodes nothing, but once “Epitome” begins with these melodic, semi-jumpy riffs bordering on the ballad, with the insistent bass in the background and Franz Herde’s supreme emotional vocals, the listener kind of knows that this would be an entertainment of an entirely different variety, especially when this amalgam stretches into a whole song. “Apotheosis” starts in the same meditative manner, but suddenly hard jazzy rhythms appear out of the blue, and twisted technical riffs pour out with jarring dashes breaking their stride creating a lot of drama, but of the minimalistic creepy type; Psychotic Waltz, with whom the guys had a joined tour in 1991, created something similar on “A Social Grace”, but this is a bumpier ride with more aggressive turns of events later on top of virtuoso lead sections and more twisted technicality including the bizarre fusion-esque ending. That’s more like it, and “Seasons of Seclusion” follows the same trajectory regardless of the balladic inauguration with hectic jazzy vortexes spiralling in and out of order Herde splashing his passionate tirades in the middle of these mazey rifforamas the latter superseded by quiet fusion-like escapades and stylish creepy arrangements which later acts like Zero Hour and Spiral Architect again epitomized and domesticated. “An Essay of Relief” is 3-min of serenity with some violin sneaking into the delivery, and “Disintegration of Lasting Hope” switches back to jazzy spastic decisions with some of the most perplexing guitar acrobatics which even Atheist and Spastic Ink. may find hard to match; expect unheralded balladic passages and superb twisted leads to add more to the labyrinthine nature of this masterpiece.

The title-track is fusion progressive predating Cynic’s similar “foci” on “Focus” by three whole years, and for many this is the pioneering recording when it comes to the “marriage” between fusion and metal; pensive balladisms occupy a large portion of this number which is just non-rushed beautiful music. “Corridors” is an aggressive shredder which beginning will remind of the more brutal acrobatics of “Life Cycle”, but before one goes too high in his/her hopes, the band insert the puzzling jazzy histrionics although this piece retains its bite all over with “A Social Grace” again a close soundalike although this cut brings forward a supreme atmospheric interlude with outstanding leads and more hallucinogenic riff “salads” both sides alternating till the end to create the second highlight on this marvel. “The Vacuum Tube Processor” “flirts” with the ballad” with timid attempts at jumpy jazz which play a bigger role on “An Act of Acquiescence”, another more intense progressiver with edgier guitar work and psychedelic digressions with ballad and fusion interfering for the umpteenth time, not to mention the extraordinary melodic leads. “Anthem Chapter I” surrenders to the piano as the leading instrument leaving the more aggressive closure for part II which serves splashes of guitar pyrotechnics on a lucid meditative base.

A very eventful, thoroughly unpredictable opus that must have been a huge surprise for the whole band fanbase back then, not only for me. On the other hand, major changes were looming on the horizon, and bands were shedding their skin going into deep metamorphoses. A lot of people have been comparing Sieges Even and Watchtower, and although resemblances between the two acts are passing at best, it’s on the album reviewed here that one can detect moments from “Control & Resistance” and its urgent, jazzy tapestries. The Americans were surely heading into a similar direction if they had lasted longer as also evident from Ron Jarzombek’s Spastic Ink. project. Their progressive/technical metal compatriots also attempted more melodic undercurrents, Destruction on “Cracked Brain” and Mekong Delta on “Kaleidoscope”, but those didn’t run head over heels from their thrashy roots. Still, this sophomore is way more convincing than the transformational ones of other progressive metal outfits like Donor (“Release”), Sacrosanct (“Tragic Intense”), and Jester’s March (“Acts”). It teems with originality and creativity laying the foundations for future ground-breakers like the mentioned Cynic’s “Focus”, Atheist’s “Elements”, Pestilence’s “Spheres”, and Spiral Architect’s only affair.

Although I was mourning the fact that the band left the thrash metal arena way too early, I can’t help but admire their audacious spirit and willingness to evolve. Their future development was for the sake of the more aggressive delivery which was toned down even further on “Sense of Change” a year later which had much more to do with Rush’s meandering exploits than the actual metal field. This was perhaps a logical step from the transformational process although both “Sophisticated” and “Uneven” displayed audible nostalgia for the more intense rifforamas of the early days. The guys are no more so whatever speculative new “life cycles” may have been stirred on the mental plane will remain there… like it wasn’t enough that they got even with so many facets of the metal carnival to the fans’ both delight and bewilderment.