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Progressive metal with some chops - 70%

Lane, December 27th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2010, CD, Pervade Productions

Lyonnaise prog metal act Stolen Memories was formed in 2007, but 'The Strange Order' might be their first ever release. Hard to tell, because internet does not tell much about this band, not even the record label's website. Marketing isn't going very well for these guys I suppose... If they want to do it old school, then it shall be so.

This album carries a familiar aura: For some reason I get similar vibes from this one, that I get from Evergrey's 2001 classic album 'In Search of Truth'. Sometimes the music enters similar territories (e.g. 'The Gift'), but also the cover art with hands coming out of floor has links to that Swedish band (remember that video clip from that album?!). However, it is Dream Theater to who these French guys owe, well, more than a lot. Stolen Memories have one original sin of prog metal, and it is long songs. The shortest one clocks in just under 6 minutes, while three songs are over 8 minutes in length. Some points this might get somewhat tedious at some points (at least without lyrics, which I can't find anywhere for this promo). This is a common concern of prog metal bands. But while the songs are long, and surely multipartial, they still catch listener's ears pretty well, unlike many well-established acts. The band stay out of jazzy bits, which is more than good, but not out of Mid-Eastern stylings, which can nowadays be heard on about every prog metal album for some reason. However, the band do not fall into another typical trap: Cheesy ballad. The album sticks to more heavy side, which is a nice treat.

The guitars are surprisingly shredding and "shrieking", played with heavy hand, which is certainly for my liking, but of course there is a lot of technical playing and catchy lead guitar work. The instruments' cooperation is at times marvellous listening, because the compositions are kept on more melodic side, than on technical one. The drums are everywhere, so to speak, with plenty of varying beats, and lively bass adds to the backbone. This ain't lacking in double kick drumming... The synthesizers are present all the time, practically, but sometimes only on the background. Sound-wise the album is somewhat clogged up on the instrumentation side, even though it sounds kind of airy. Anyway, it detracts the power and the punch which the playing obviously packs.

The most exceptional thing about the band are the vocals. They sound more like Roy Khan of Kamelot, than typical metal singing. There are problems with the voice fitting the music at times. But a bigger problem is the way how the vocalist cannot quite hit the right note, and he begins to search that right one, making the singing sound wobbly.

Despite its shortcomings, the music is catchy, if not very original. The vocals are still interesting and characteristic, and playing is potent. In its entirety, 'The Strange Order' is listenable prog metal, thanks to many, many catchy bits throughout the album. An interesting start for the band!

(Originally written for in 2011)