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The Watcher at the Threshold Still Thinking - 90%

bayern, March 8th, 2018

It’s good to see these reliant samurai back with a full-length opus after teasing the fanbase with a couple of EP’s most of which contained old re-released material. A fifth album for the band altogether who have managed to rise up to the forefront of the progressive metal movement in their homeland, having slowed down in recent years, obviously taking their time to see how they could keep themselves on the crest of the wave…

And they have by all means found the way with this new slab of complex labyrinthine metallisms which sees them acquiring a more aggressive sound, one that sides with Nevermore and Eldritch, boldly bordering on thrash at times. The staple “Queensryche meets Crimson Glory” layout can still be heard, but the band sound angrier and more belligerent overall as evident from “Architecture of Deception” which bemuses the listener with superb surreal lead-driven knots before the guys embark on a bumpy, thrash-peppered Nevermore-sque journey with the vocals also resembling the ones of the late Warrel Dane quite a bit. Absolutely nothing wrong with these innovations with “Your Perfect Denial” sounding even more compelling and also more aggressive, thrash now occupying the front seat for a couple of delightful headbanging moments among a very diverse vocal palette ranging from near deathy growls to piercing Rob Halford-esque screams.

More “hallucinogenic” surreality with “Hallucination Regime” which officiant mid-paced skeleton also tolerates more melody not without the help of the brilliant lead sections before “Waking Your Spirits” looks back at the band’s earlier softer repertoire, a poignant romanticer ala mid-period Fates Warning. “Elapsed Time” is a cool “eagle fly free” speedster without too many intricate embellishments, but “New World Disorder” hardens the course with heavier meatier guitars that march onward with steam-rolling determination and an elusive doomy vibe the latter dispersed by the vigorous hectic riffs of “The Ravenous Eyes”, bringing back the thrashier configurations albeit in a less urgent, even semi-balladic at times, setting. “Disciple of the Damned” is an excellent dark brooding thrasher with great technical staccato rhythms some of which are close to capture the magic of Coroner even, the drama soothed by the lyrical ballad “Withered Dreams and Dust”, but not quite by “12 Seconds”, a nearly 13, not 12, min symphony the band combining intense shredding, serene lyricism, jumpy fusion-esque moments, mazey riff-formulas, and several more officiant epic touches for a very multifarious, but also a bit overdone at times, ride.

If we exclude the last composition, which shows that the guys’ delivery doesn’t apply as successfully to the epic length format, the rest is nearly flawless the more aggressive veneer bringing the desirable modification without altering the approach beyond recognition. It suits them just fine also providing a not very obtrusive modern flair to their style with a more abrasive, drier guitar sound that seamlessly blends with the warmer classic background, siding them with other notable contemporary purveyors like Omainen, Scientic, and Psychotron who walk the same path of intense progressive power/thrash of a mixed, classic/modern nature.

A vigilant bunch, what can you do; always know when to shed their skin here and there, always aware of vogues and trends, not necessarily falling prey to all. Maybe creating one could be an option; after all, they hail from the Land of the Enterprising Sun.