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Pleasant, but not essential - 65%

kapitankraut, September 11th, 2008

For me, listening to lot of the progressive metal acts out there is a bit of a trial. Not because I don't like the style - quite the contrary - but because so many of them remind me of just how far ahead of the game the big guns (Dream Theater, Ayreon and friends) are. Were it not for those visionaries, a lot of prog-metal would sound much better. Of course, the question would then arise whether there would be such a market for some of these other bands, and that's something for another time.

Sweden's World of Silence is one of those solid second-tier acts that so many styles of music need to have. There's nothing particularly wrong with "Window of Heaven", but neither is there the feeling of a band pushing themselves to greater heights that would make this a very good album.

The standard prog-metal tropes are all present and correct. We have enigmatic lyrics about mirrors, windows, dreams, voids and so on. Part of me wants to call this a concept album, but so many prog albums sound like concept albums that it's hard to tell in the first place.

We also have fiddly little guitar riffs and tempo changes with no apparent reason behind them. They're all quite enjoyable, and while the result is the standard prog-metal problem of long songs (the longest here being just under 10 minutes), nothing really overstays its welcome too badly. There are, of course, drums and keyboards that keep up quite impressively with the tempo changes, sometimes even getting a chance to lead the songs themselves.

Vocally, the album is nothing spectacular either. Mathias Sandquist sings in English and is generally quite understandable, although his accent occasionally gets in the way. Some of the chorus-like parts (none of the songs really follow a verse-chorus structure) have extra vocals added, although I can't be sure if this is Mathias harmonising with himself or other band members joining in. In "Dreamweaver", an effect is added briefly that compresses his voice and makes it sound robotic, although it doesn't work out too well.

Unusually, the second track on the album is entirely instrumental. Instrumentals themselves are common enough in prog-metal, but they normally turn up - in my experience, at least - near the end of the album or in the middle. It's a bit disconcerting in a way to have just met the full band and then be treated to a long (and, I must admit, rather repetitive) instrumental piece.

Overall, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this album, but there's nothing intrinsically essential about it either. If you absolutely must have everything that's ever been released in a prog vein, this is obviously something you need. I'll prefer to stick with the bands that really do push themselves to new heights. World of Silence may possibly have become such a band on their second album, but this offering really isn't anything special.