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2007 : VOLUME 50
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ProgPower Europe

REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Sieges Even - Paramount
Sieges Even - Paramount
Country of Origin:Germany/NL
Format:CD
Record Label:InsideOut Music
Catalogue #:IOMCD282
SPV CD 79582
Year of Release:2007
Time:61:46
Info:Sieges Even
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: When Alpha And Omega Collide (5:52), Tidal (5:16), Eyes Wide Open (5:41), Iconic (4:59), Where Our Shadows Sleep (7:08), Duende (5:11), Bridge To The Divine (5:55), Leftovers (7:16), Mounting Castles In The Blood Red Sky (5:37), Paramount (8:50)

Andy Read's Review

For a band whose career had spanned three decades, 2005's comeback album The Art Of Navigating By The Stars was a total and utter revelation. Ditching their technical metal excesses, the German/Dutch outfit created a perfect blend of modern progressive rock, with an occasional metallic nod. The result was a record that already stands as one of my all-time favourites. Following-up such a classic and refreshing album would be a daunting challenge, but with Paramount, Sieges Even has ably risen to that challenge.

Whilst it holds similarities to its predecessor, there are distinct developments, which make this a very distinct album in its own right. Most noticeable is that guitarist Markus Steffen is allowing himself a much heavier foot on the guitar pedal. The mixture of heavy riffing and lighter acoustic passages makes the opening track, When Alpha And Omega Collide one of the best the band has ever written. The heavy opening to Duende is equally effective.

In contrast, in writing the 10 songs to be found here, the band has introduced a subtle extra dose of poppiness into the mixer. The chorus to Tidal is a little twee, but insanely catchy. The same applies to Bridge To The Divine, whilst Eyes Wide Open is the sort of rock ballad that would have been a worldwide smash for the likes of Extreme or Winger in the 1980s. I could though do without the "Da Da Dums" and the "Bo bo bo ba ba ba ba ohs" that crop up on a couple of songs - always suggests lazy song-writing to me.

Vocalist Arno Menses has also upped his game several notches, his voice being stronger and more forceful than before.

Elsewhere we still have the Yes-like layered harmonies, the heavy useof acoustic and classical guitar sections, and songs that thrive on winding and weaving between numerous musical themes, whilst retaining a perfect coherence. The sound is crystal clear, and at 60 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome.

Lyrically, again the band mixes poetic verse with social comment. There appears to be heavy reference to the USA with sound clips referring to the bombing of Hiroshima and the Apollo space mission. Mounting Castles.. is a clever instrumental spun around Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. Even the album cover gets you thinking - what is being reflected in the sea-strewn debris?

As with the last album, the level of detail in each composition means that this is getting more enjoyable with each listen. There is enough crossover appeal here to please lovers of ProgMetal and Prog Rock, as well as those who just enjoy beautifully crafted, modern rock.

I don't think that overall it quite matches its predecessor, but with Paramount, Sieges Even has firmly established itself among the leading purveyors of progressive music.

Martien Koolen's Review

I really liked Sieges Even’s “come back” album The Art Of Navigating By The Stars (2005), mainly due to the new vocalist Arno Menses and the great guitar melodies. However if you listened to that album too often you kind of got fed up with it as a lot of the songs sounded too much alike… I now have the same feeling with their new CD Paramount. After the first two spins I thought it was a great album, but now, after listening to it for at least more than ten times I really start to get more and more disappointed.

The CD has a great opener called When Alpha And Omega Collide, which is a very melodic song stuffed with great guitar hooks and outstanding vocal passages. Tidal is again such a typical Sieges Even song which also could have been on their previous album, not bad, but I have heard it before too often.

Eyes Wide Open is a ballad-like song with a magical chorus which could do well in the charts actually. It is not a song you would expect from Sieges Even, but it has such an addictive chorus, that you cannot get it out of your head for days to come… The five following songs are again typical SE tracks, with beautiful vocals, nice guitar melodies, but again nothing special happens. What they all have in common is that there are no guitar solos in any of the five songs!!

Then we get to the real disappointing instrumental song Mounting Castles In The Blood Red Sky, which is a kind of musical version of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. So, you hear the voice of King and some endless guitar picking, making the song very tiresome and it lasts over 5 minutes; give me a break here…

The album ends with another very mediocre song called Paramount, again filled with speeches and a rather “horrible” trumpet solo. All in all I have been truly disappointed with this new album, as I know that these guys can come up with something much better. Maybe next time??

Dries Dokter's Review

It took me sometime to get into the previous album of Sieges Even, The Art Of Navigating By The Stars. Sure the correct ingredients were all there but once I heard a friend describe it as an absolute snoozefest, I knew what was missing. The album was too sedate, too quiet. But after a while I started to discover and appreciate the melodies and from that point the album was on my favourites list.

And although Paramount starts of with two much stronger and powerful tracks the album seems to take the exact same path of it's predecessor. If you read the reviews of TAONBTS by my colleagues the one that described my opinion best is Tom's. And parts of that review again apply to this album: the stronger tracks are at the beginning making it hard to keep your attention once you are passed track two. Because When Alpha And Omega Collide and Tidal are great songs.

When Alpha And Omega Collide starts of with an intriguing keyboard loop, soon followed with a heavier guitar, although the keyboard loop returns in the track every now and then. The tracks builds up creating tension and letting go with a good energy until the middle section where it becomes quiet, guitars only but that soon builds up to heavier guitars again, and yes, the keyboard loop returns. Tidal has to most powerful beginning and an almost raw voice! Further along the track ends in a cascading refrain "we are, we are,...". Great!

But then I started discovering more tracks that are really powerful, my favourite track on the album: Mounting Castles In The Blood Red Sky, a track that uses excerpts from the famous speech by Martin Luther King at Lincoln Memorial, Washington, "I have a dream". The atmospheric music really becomes the powerful words of this historic moment. And instead of taking the lead role, the music is supporting the words showing the respect these words deserve.

And the title track of the album, Paramount, is another great track, this time parts of the John F Kennedy speech about striving for the moon are used. And like all the music on this album the track has complex structure, this track in particular has is a very powerful base and rhythm line. A number of tracks have great vocal harmonies (especially the tracks: Eyes Wide Open , Iconic and Where Our Shadows Sleep) of which some are overdubs. Although Iconic raised a question mark, is this an outspoken religious track or is it just considering the effects and different sides of religion? Duende is a light track with some metal guitars as decoration, it is a track that can be used as an example for the way Sieges Even blends metal and progressive rock. Because it is not really prog metal it is way to clean for that, too many acoustic guitars for example. But it does have some typical prog metal edges. Nothing wrong with that mix, it appears to work for Sieges Even.

The tracks on this album are all well thought out, complex, and have the great voice of Arno Menses. His voice is one of the reasons you recognise the new Sieges Even instantly. They are also very clean, not one bad or raw note. Sometimes, it makes me shout, come on guys, let go, forget about perfection, bring some passion. But then again: because of this precision Sieges Even are who they are. And all this care for detail has delivered a number of excellent tracks. And compared to TAONBTS it Paramount is a little heavier and more adventurous. And none of the tracks are bland or uninteresting.

A very very pleasant album, recognisable as a Sieges Even album but still a step forward from The Art Of Navigating By The Stars. This album is the reason why I am looking forward to seeing Sieges Even at ProgPower.

Conclusions:

ANDY READ : 9 out of 10
MARTIEN KOOLEN : 6.5 out of 10
DRIES DOKTER : 8 out of 10



Sieges Even - Sophisticated
Sieges Even - Sophisticated
Country of Origin:Germany/NL
Format:CD
Record Label:QuiXote Music
Catalogue #:QXT CD 57
Year of Release:1995/2007
Time:58:01
Info:Sieges Even
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Reporter (4:30), Trouble Talker (5:07), Middle Course (6:38), Sophisticated (4:18), Dreamer (6:24), As The World Moves On (3:51), Wintertime (7:13), Water The Barren Tree (5:54), War (5:09), Fatal (3:42), The More The Less (4:53)

Sophisticated was the fourth album of the anomaly of the German music scene, Sieges Even. This CD has been out of print for a very long time due to the bankruptcy of the distribution company. Now, in 2007, the re-issue is finally being released and if you are a fan of this remarkable prog rock band you should really get a copy of this amazing album.

This album, originally released in 1995, was recorded with two new band members, Wolfgang Zenk (guitar) and Greg Keller (vocals). Compared to their previous album Sense Of Change (1991) this new album really sounds a lot harder. Immediately from the opener Reporter you notice that Sieges Even is taking their music to a heavier and more sophisticated level. Here the band mixes rather fast metal with experimental jazzy guitar parts and really remarkable vocal lines. Trouble Talker combines funky rhythms with heavy hooks, great solos and some complex passages. Middle Course features a ballad-like intro, followed by semi-acoustic guitar parts, a jazzy part and ending with a great melodic guitar solo by newcomer Wolfgang Zenk.

With this new line-up Sieges Even also prove that virtuoso performances do not necessarily exclude catchy melodies, just listen to songs like Dreamer, Wintertime or Water The Barren Tree and you will hear a lot of great melodies. However after a while I tend to start to “dislike” the vocals as they sound a bit too nasal and dramatic. And the last track of this album is even quite boring with again those typical tempo changes and guitar lines. The funky parts in this song even remind me of Primus

So, I have rather mixed feelings about this album, it is rather heavy with sheer brilliant guitar work at certain times, but overall I tend to get bored after a couple of songs as Sieges Even repeat their musical skills too often.

Listening tip: Trouble Talker at maximum volume!!

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

MARTIEN KOOLEN



Sieges Even - Uneven
Sieges Even - Uneven
Country of Origin:Germany/NL
Format:CD
Record Label:QuiXote Music
Catalogue #:QXT CD 58
Year of Release:1997/2007
Time:44:16
Info:Sieges Even
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Disrespectfully Yours (3:49), What If? (5:20), Trainsong (4:37), Rise And Shine (5:26), Scratches In The Rind (5:57), Different Pace (5:31), What's Up God? (6:09), Love Is As Warm As Tears (7:16)

I am one of those who missed Uneven when it was released. After 1995's Sophisticated, I was a bit reluctant to try this 1997 album, not because Sophisticated was bad, but because a) I found it a bit tiring and hard to listen to and b) it was missing that "something". I found myself a lot of times skipping tracks to get to where I wanted to. After listening to Uneven some months after its release, it was already late. Gone when I tried to look for the CD due to the bankruptcy of their label at the time. To be reissued now, remastered.

Uneven is the sequel to Sophisticated, the sophomore release of that "different" period. A period without Marcus Steffen, leaving only the Holzwarth brothers from the band's core, with Wolfgang Zenk on guitars and Greg Keller on vocals. The latter two members leave a huge imprint on the '95/'97 releases. Guitars are less lyrical and more technical, with an emphasis on solo's and a clear jazzy direction and sound. Vocals are quite unique: somewhere in between an aggressive operatic effort and an ironic jazzy colour, achieving really high quality performance that helps disregard the German accent. Drums and bass construct a very strong rhythm section providing a very solid backbone for all compositions, but not only. Technically impeccable and full of imagination and improvisation, the Holzwarth brothers prove here why they were sought after as session musicians by so many (mainly metal) groups in need. The line-up for this album is enhanced by Bork Keller on keyboards. This is not a random event - it is a conscious choice aimed to stress the role of keyboards hereby. And keyboards do make the difference this time and push the album to very high levels of quality. The final outcome is music that can hardly compare or relate to the era before or after - and this is why these two albums are regarded a bit as "bastard children". I tend to disagree, and especially when it comes to Uneven, I see an underrated record.

While Sophisticated featured almost exclusively heavy and loaded compositions, Uneven is lighter, more varied and definitely more polished (as Sense Of Change was when compared to the earlier releases of the band). Let me also add cheerful and optimistic. Of course there is material that seems to spring from the same source, like the naughty Disrespectfully Yours or the nearly funky Trainsong with the breathtaking switches between power-metal and jazz parts, similarly to Rise And Shine. Other tracks are more mid-tempo, like Different Pace or What's Up God?. I could find some negative things to say here concerning what these tracks really add, but the majestic ending of the first (like a lullaby) and the pure jazz interlude in the second prevent me. This is a neat illustration of the differences between this and the band's previous release.

Anyway, what makes Uneven the hidden gem that it is, is the presence of softer, polished tunes. Songs that bring to mind ideas explored in earlier, more lyrical periods for the band, but seen through the current prism. What If?, Scratches In The Rind and Love Is As Warm As Tears serve as an opposite pole to the bombastic frenzy of the rest of the tracks. They break the symmetry - as the title suggests. What if? is a beautiful mid-tempo, with very subtle keyboards and sweet vocals, still holding a surprise with the introduction of an industrial interlude, featuring distorted vocals and guitars in an otherwise super-cute song. Scratches In The Rind is witty and complete, with a memorable vocal line in the end that many songwriters should envy. Love Is As Warm As Tears is an ideal album closer that ends up with a sweet keyboard solo, that for me is the trademark of the whole album. The sweet after taste.

Sieges Even is not necessarily and not only a band flirting with intellectualism, philosophical quests expressed via riddle-like vocals waiting to be deciphered. Uneven is a beautiful straight album, full of variety, melody, energy and fun, that go hand in hand with technical excellence, which proudly stands next to Sense Of Change and the recent releases of the band. It's so different but so beautiful. 10 years after and it still sounds fresh. I'll use the word essential. But for whom? Well, not so much for fans of the Steffen version of Sieges Even, but more for fans of intelligent, good-humoured uplifting progressive rock. Mainly because for some yet obscure to me reason, the style the band developed here is absolutely unique and hardly, very very hardly reproducible. Thus the total absence of references or pointers to other bands.

NB: The tracklisting is incorrect as (Scratches In The Rind is the penultimate track and not the 5th). On purpose? I wonder, since the same mistake was there too in the '97 version...

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

CHRISTOS AMPATZIS



Alchemist - Tripsis
Alchemist - Tripsis
Country of Origin:Australia
Format:CD
Record Label:Relapse Records
Catalogue #:RR6730-2
Year of Release:2007
Time:43:01
Info:Alchemist
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Wrapped In Guilt (4:34), Tongues And Knives (5:15), Nothing In No Time (5:50), Anticipation Of A High (4:32), Grasp At Air (4:36), CommunicHate (3:25), Substance For Shadow (2:50), God Shaped Hole (5:05), Degenerative Breeding (3:47)

It was with some surprise that I read Alchemist’s bio and found out that they released their first album back in 1991, as this is the first I’ve heard from them. I must admit I’m also quite surprised to find this Australian band headlining at Progpower Europe, as the music they create is far from the genre norm, to say the least.

Put simply, Tripsis (Alchemist’s sixth studio release) is at times fearsomely heavy, as might be expected from an album released by respected extreme metal label Relapse. From the first few moments of opener Wrapped In Guilt, the listener is bombarded with pounding, almost tribal drum beats, heavy, tight industrial-tinged riffs and the gruff, semi-growled vocals of Adam Agius. The songs have a convincing momentum, but it means that for the unsuspecting ‘typical prog metal’ fan the effect might be akin to being pummelled repeatedly with the aural equivalent of a battering ram.

With this description left as it stands, you might wonder why DPRP is even covering this album, yet the band add numerous melodic and atmospheric touches to their material which serve to add interest for prog fans. Chief amongst these are the electronica and soundscapes incorporated into pretty much every song by Nick Wall, which serve to add a spacey, vaguely psychedelic feel to proceedings. Its not all blood and thunder either; the band prove on the likes of Nothing In No Time (with its well measured and patient build up and sinewy, eighties era-Killing Joke-esque guitar work) and Grasp At Air (which has an ethereal, almost Middle Eastern-tinged mid-section which bought to mind Cynic) that they are well able to incorporate light and shade and ‘build and release’ style progressions to their music.

In terms of comparisons, the promo material has it mostly spot-on – the likes of Cult Of Luna, Godflesh, Voivod, Devin Townsend (in both solo and Strapping Young Lad mode) and, in particular, Neurosis are all names that came into my head when listening to this. What I disagree with from the labels list of ‘for fans of…’ is the inclusion of Opeth; Ok, they both play extreme music with progressive tendencies, but that’s where the similarities end. For a start, there isn’t the complexity in terms of song structure within Alchemist’s music that there is with Opeth; for Alchemist, the detail comes in the atmospherics and sonic textures of the songs.

My main criticism of this album is that the rather monotone vocals of Agius, coupled with the relentless wall of noise conjured up by the band can make the album seem a little samey and one dimensional after a while; the atmospherics and melodic touches mentioned earlier help in this regard but can’t entirely dispel the feeling that a little more variety may not have gone amiss.

Overall, a solid and enjoyable release from a band who I imagine really come alive in a concert setting. Those of a more fragile disposition would be advised to try the samples on the band’s site first though!

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

TOM DE VAL



DGM - Different Shapes
DGM - Different Shapes
Country of Origin:Italy
Format:CD
Record Label:Killzone Records
Catalogue #:KZ06
Year of Release:2007
Time:53:04
Info:DGM
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: New Life (5:05), The Alliance (5:43), Some Day, One Day (5:00), Unkept Promises (5:11), Close To You (6:34), A Man I'll Never Be (4:43), Signs Of Time (4:32), The Fallen Angel (5:31), Peace Of Mind (4:38), Frontiers (5:59)

DGM is not the sort of band that is ever likely to feature in too many people's top 10s at the end of a year. However the band has always been capable of producing records that you will give repeat plays to on first release, and then will come back to from time to time when the mood suits. I've really enjoyed the last two albums from these Italian ProgPower metallers. Pleasingly, their latest release just about tops them both in terms of the overall quality and the songs.

Originally formed in 1994 as a completely instrumental band. Unusually, with the recent departure of guitarist Diego Reali, none of the founding members remain. In the summer of '97, the band completed Change Direction, which was followed a year later by Wings Of Time. However it was with the arrival of singer Titta Tani and the release of the band's third album Dreamland in December 2001, that DGM started to draw a wider attention. Hidden Place came out in May 2003 and it landed the band a slot of the prestigious Gods Of Metal festival. It was followed by the equally well-received Misplaced three years ago.

The new album, Different Shapes, sees the arrival of new six stringer Simone Mularoni, who plays a big part in the success of the album. Each of the 10 songs here are worthy of their place on the new album and whilst none really break new ground in the genre, there is plenty of variety on offer, with some great hooks and riffing to be found within.

The best songs are where the band treads a traditional power metal route with a few progressive touches in a similar way to fellow countrymen Vision Divine and underrated Swedes, Morifade. Opener New Life bursts forth with a flurry of guitars that leads to a great chorus and some fine interplay between the guitar and the keyboards of Emanuele Casali. Later on, both The Fallen Angel and Peace Of Mind take a similar hard-edged, up-tempo approach to great effect.

Another three songs take a more melodic hard rock approach. They are not quite so addictive but the variety of pace and style offer a nice contrast and all three have some catchy melodies. At the other end of the spectrum, there's the traditional rock ballad halfway through in the shape of Close To You. Meanwhile, A Man I'll Never Be includes some aggressive Death vocals, which when combined with the clean melodies of the chorus, could be lifted from the new album by fellow Italians Raintime. A quirky, progressive instrumental section adds added value.

Titta Tani hasn't the greatest voice in the world and the accent may be too much for some. Noticeably in certain sections he sounds rather strained, but for the most part carries the melodies very well. Guitarist Mularoni is a great find, his soloing and riffing has a beautiful flow, and a sense of power and melody that I really like. His interplay with the keyboards is one of the album's big selling points. So overall, if you enjoy mildly progressive power metal, that is big on melodies then this is more than worth buying.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

ANDY READ



Dreamscape - 5th Season
Dreamscape - 5th Season
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Massacre Records
Catalogue #:MASCD 0545
Year of Release:2007
Time:61:14
Info:Dreamscape
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Fed Up With (5:29), Borderline (5:12), 5th Season (14:25), Déjà Vu (5:27), Phenomenon (4:28), Somebody (7:48), Different (7:10), Point Zero (7:57), Farewell (5:06)

It bugs the hell out of me when I read album reviews in certain magazines and websites, where any band that offers the slightest hint of ProgMetal, is automatically compared to Dream Theater. It may be the only such band that some reviewers have ever heard, but in reality very few outfits in the genre actually sound very much like James LaBrie and Co.

Having got that off my chest, Dreamscape is a ProgMetal band, which actually does sound just like Dream Theater! Hailing from Germany, as the title of the new album suggests, the quintet has already produced four long players, the last appearing in 2003.

Being honest, they are not a band that I've ever really been able to get into. The Dream Theater influences are a little too familiar, the songs have never really gripped me and the accented singer doesn't work for me at all. Having said that, it is very well done and I know those who absolutely love this band. Their appearance at this year's Progpower UK festival was also very impressive.

In terms of this album, I'm prevented in giving a detailed opinion as the band's label still insists on ruining every track by having a voice inform me every 90 seconds that I am listening to a promo version of the new Dreamscape album which is the property of Massacre Records! Come on guys! How the hell is anyone supposed to develop a proper impression of a band's work, when the flow of the music is constantly interrupted? Dreamscape may have spent four years sweating over this album, but it has all been ruined by this ridiculous anti-piracy idea. Surely a label should allow its bands a better chance of garnering positive critical reviews?

From what I could bare to listen to before my frustration got the better of me, 5th Season sounds like a natural progression from its predecessor, End Of Silence. It will certainly please existing fans, with the epic title track most likely to get the pulses racing. Incidentally, since recording this album, most of the line-up, including the singer, has left with a new formation having just been announced as I write this.

Conclusion: Unrated

ANDY READ



Meyvn - Splintered Skies
Meyvn - Splintered Skies
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Killzone Records
Catalogue #:KZ06
Year of Release:2006
Time:71:44
Info:Meyvn
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: How Far We Fall (4:38), Disturbed (5:59), Arise (7:06), Answer Me (7:12), Future Untold (8:17), One World (11:16), Seize (6:31), Furnulum Pani Nolo (3:21), Power of Fate (3:41), Let Loose The Dogs (7:38), In Whose Name (7:58)

Meyvn hails from the heart of Texas in the USA. The quintet started in 2003 and released a self-produced, self-released album called Last Rites a year later. The album was apparently well-received in the US, with the band's live shows also winning heavy plaudits. In 2005, work began on Splintered Skies, which was picked up and released in 2006 by KillZone Records.

Meyvn consists of Richard Clark (vocals), Drew Creel (guitars/keyboards), Jon Simpson (guitars), Ken Liao (bass), and Reuben Posey (drums). The bands draws inspiration from a wide range of influences. There's a heavy Thrash sound to the 11 songs on this album. The down-tuned guitars and speedy riffing are often reminiscent of early Metallica and Sentenced, and occasionally the cleaner side of Mercenary. However, this is combined with a heavy progressive influence, with ever-shifting rhythms and some very odd metering. I hear a touch of Queensrÿche, a fair bit of Zero Hour and Spiral Architect, and in the quieter moments, a bit of Rush. There's also a noticeable heavy and power metal vibe to most of the songs with a host of NWOBHM bands coming to mind.

There is certainly a niche in the ProgMetal genre to exploit here, as surprisingly I can't think of too many bands that go for a bit of progressive thrash. Prototype does a much smoother version, whilst the excellent and more effective Archetype is probably the closest comparison I can offer to Meyvn.

The album is 71 minutes of pretty relentless, ass-kickingly heavy progressive metal. When the band get it right, they are stunning. The opening How Far We Fall is an addictive flurry of guitars, a spangling of odd time changes, and a fantastic, anthemic chorus that I can't get out of my head. Disturbed, which follows, makes good use of the keyboards and has an off-beat groove and a hint of rapping in the vocals that reminds me of the often-overlooked metal pioneers Mordred.

The problem with such a strong opening is that the band never really gets close to that level again. The sharper focus and inventiveness of Seize, the bluesy tinge to Answer Me, and the brooding mood of Let Loose The Dogs are fine, but the remaining half of the disc rarely rises above demo standard. They are not helped by a sub-par production. The drums in particular suffer from a really poor sound - check out the banging and bashing going on at the end of the final track. And at 71 minutes the band has just dragged out too many of the songs well past their sell-by date. Take One World as an example. It's got a nice hook and a good Thrashy riff and with a bit of variation would be fine. Sadly some dragged-out riffing and really bog standard drum soloing manages to draw it past the 11-minute mark, by which time my attention has been lost for five minutes.

The lovely acoustic guitar, which occupies the instrumental, Furnulum Pani Nolo, is really effective, as is the organ, which introduces Arise. But amid all the Thrashy riffing, such variation is rare.

Overall, top marks for effort, and the opening two tracks show that this is a band with potential in, until now, a little explored niche. If they are to exploit that niche, for me, they really need much sharper and focused song writing, avoiding the meanderingly drawn-out endings. They should make much better use of non-thrash musical ideas, and above all invest some time in a decent drum studio.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

ANDY READ



Non-Divine - Asylum 45
Non-Divine - Asylum 45
Country of Origin:Netherlands
Format:CD
Record Label:Rusty Cage
Records
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2006
Time:51:35
Info:Non-Divine
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: One Man, One Soul (3:58), In Shame (3:51), New Die-hard Vampire (4:08), Sleep (4:23), Breathe (3:00), Mended Doll (4:50), Love Loss (2:21), Return To Zero (3:56), Visions (4:31), Sympathy (4:31)

I can't see too much here to interest anyone with a strict progressive musical diet. Throughout the ten songs on offer on this, their debut album, Dutch upstarts Non Divine keep to a pretty basic melodic rock/metal recipe, albeit with a very appealing sense of groove and energy that I'm sure will go down a storm in a live arena.

The band's first demo, My Obsession opened a lot of doors for them including a slot on the seven-week Metal Grand Slam Tour 2001, run by Aardschok magazine, plus support slots for the likes of Dio, Anthrax, After Foreverand Murderdolls. Moving on a few years, the band won one of the biggest metal awards in the Netherlands, Aardschok's Metal Bash competition.

Shortly afterwards they signed a two album deal with Dutch label Rusty Cage Records, the first product of which is Asylum 45. A concept album, it follows the lives of several patients in a psychiatric hospital. However the concept is contained more in the lyrics than the music, with the songs standing on their own two feet. There's next to nothing to suggest you have a concept album in the player, just from listening to the music.

Amid the down-tuned guitars, occasional samples and uptempo grooves, there are some good melodies to be found in the likes of One Man, One Soul and In Shame. Yet, while it's a very enjoyable listen, there's nothing that really jumps out at me to get the adjectives a-gushing. (Please note that this isn't really my top style of music.)

Although this is a debut album, the band utilised top producer Jacob Hansen (Mercenary and Communic) for recording, mixing and mastering. The result is a very professional sounding album that should act as the launch pad for a bright future. I'm looking forward to seeing how the band capture the energy found on this record in a live setting.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

ANDY READ



Day Six - Eternal Dignity
Day Six - Eternal Dignity
Country of Origin:Netherlands
Format:CD
Record Label:Progman Records
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2004
Time:54:35
Info:Day Six
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Legend Of The Hollow (10:24), The Law Of The Web (6:34), Dark Tower (6:28), No One Lives Forever (4:50), Water & Stones (3:50), Day VI (7:57), The Crypt (14:27)

I first caught this Dutch band when they appeared at the initial Headway Festival in Amstelveen along with Pain Of Salvation and Freak Kitchen. One of the earlier bands on the bill, I was highly impressed with both their music and live performance, especially as some of them seemed young enough to have still been at college (maybe even school!)

Their debut album came out a wee while later but sadly my copy seems to have spent most of the past three years sitting on the shelf. Having dug it out to refresh my memory before the band's appearance at this year's Progpower Europe festival, I must admit it is much better than I recall.

Day Six is definitely progressive and definitely metallic but their songs also feature a lot of neo prog influences. Whilst the guitar can have a heavy, deep crunch, most of the songs are slow to mid-paced.

Dark Tower has a definite Sabbath heaviness and doomy pace, whilst Law Of The Web possesses a lot of Floyd moments. Several parts of the album also remind me of fellow countrymen Ricocher. I really like the use of a children's choir on a couple of tracks, whilst the ProgPower metal and melody of Day VI will go down a treat in a live setting.

Robbie van Stiphout has the makings of a very good vocalist and the rest of the band are tight and not afraid to try out some fresh ideas. A lot of thought has gone into the songwriting here. The songs do lack real killer hooks and riffs but as a debut album this is a very impressive beginning.

Footnote: The band was signed to the ill-fated and somewhat dubious Progman Records in the States from where I got my copy. Visit the band's website to find out about current availability, where there is also a two-song demo for free download of new material, which suggests that a new album is not too far away.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

ANDY READ



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Friday 5 October (pre-party)

doors open at 20.00
PICTURE OF THE MOON 21.30 - 22.45
THESSERA 23.15 - 00.45

Saturday 6 October

doors open at 13.00
NON-DIVINE 13.45 - 14.40
DGM 15.05 - 16.05
OCEANS OF SADNESS 16.30 - 17.30
NAHEMAH 18.30 - 19.35
ORPHANED LAND 20.05 - 21.25
ALCHEMIST 21.55 - 23.30

Sunday October

doors open at 13.00
DAY SIX 13.45 - 14.40
MEYVN 15.05 - 16.05
CIRCUS MAXIMUS 16.30 - 17.30
DREAMSCAPE 18.30 - 19.30
SIEGES EVEN 19.55 - 21.05
JON OLIVA'S PAIN 21.35 - 23.30



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