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Riddles of Epic, Over-Realistic Proportions - 76%

bayern, June 29th, 2020

An interesting Swiss combo that belonged to the 90’s entirely; which is not necessarily a bad thing as there’s nothing wrong in owning a decade even from an underground point-of-view; especially when the brand of music you had chosen was a very challenging, mind-consuming one. In other words, our Swiss heroes were operating within the progressive metal confines the debut demo being a heavy labyrinthine, bordering-on-thrash slab that preceded other complex similarly-styled works of acts like Zero Hour, Minas Tirith, Antiquus, etc.

For the album reviewed here the band have toned down the aggression quite a few notches, and the resultant sound is mellower and dreamier but equally as intricate with long sprawling compositions telling tall tales of times long gone or never occurred, with heavy entangled riffage tussling with melancholic idyllic etudes (“Longing”) the latter growing into wholesome numbers (“The Thief from Darrenlow”, the marginally heavier title-track) where folk motifs ala Falconer and TYR also come to play, the very good emotional clean vocals carrying those moments with subdued pathos. The 12-min saga “Time for Revolution” is surely the centrepiece of the album, a conglomerate of serene balladic passages and bumpy epic-prone ones the lead guitarist stitching the separate segments with his stylish inclusions. The closing operatic meditative pageant “To the Poets of This World” may come as a bit too much, though, as pacifiers of the kind have already been offered earlier, and a downbeat anti-climactic finale doesn’t seem the brightest idea out there, not on an album like this anyway.

Those who have somehow managed to lend an ear on the demo won’t be very satisfied as the guys spend too much time in lulling the audience into a receptive semi-drowsy state, and although they do weave entangled vistas and intriguing sonic tapestries, there isn’t enough energy at play at times to bring them to full life. The newly-sprung folk elements do add some depth to the delivery, but since this has been done for the sake of the more intense moments their merits are a bit debatable. In the case of Falconer, for instance, those seem to work in a better way in a more dynamic power metal-ish context; here the approach hits the mid-tempo parametres at best, with the good old doom standing vigilant almost the entire time. The high level of musicianship is undeniable, including the excellent vocal performance, but the team’s skills could have been more clearly displayed with a more aggressive stance.

The guys didn’t shift from the epitomized direction, and both the EP and the sophomore were built on similar epic folk-tinged rhythms, with more lengthy multi-layered tracks, pleasing if not downright impressive trips where the progressive metal fanbase would definitely find quite a bit to like. Kudos to them for never acknowledging the ruling groovy/post-thrashy vogues, not even by a single stroke, and for this and other reasons this batch should rightfully have a place on the rebellious non-conformist side of the 90’s metal pantheon.