Tuomas Holopainen – The Life and Times of Scrooge


tuomasscroogecover

Nuclear Blast

Review by Rick Ossian

Let me see here… not quite sure how to begin this one!  Let’s just lay out what we know on the table and go from there, shall we?  What have we got here?  Now THAT’s a good question!  This is a beastie of several different proportions, it is.  To begin with, it is, quite naturally, an apparent side project of the Nightwish genius/creator/keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen.  It is also, apparently, a faux Walt Disney motion picture soundtrack, and of quite epic proportions, I must say.  It was also an epic surprise to myself, oddly enough.  When I started off my weekend proper, I was NOT expecting a barrage of violins (and other strings), xylophones, tympani, whistles, bells, etc.  to be the mainstay of my musical meanderings.

As it happens, it was a pleasant surprise.

Now, for those of you expecting brain-splitting progressive metal here, I hate to disappoint you, but you must search elsewhere.  Perhaps Nightwish‘s latest offering?  Or some Epica would suit you wonderfully.  Perhaps even Dream Theater, naturally.  But THIS is NOT it.  If you enter upon this voyage expecting hard rock, or Metal, or anything even remotely approaching either, then you will be dismayed to learn that you have taken a wrong turn, erm, musically speaking, that is.  For The Life and Times of Scrooge is ANYTHING but Metal.  It may, perhaps, have a Metal mind at the helm.  That is not necessarily in question.  But this is classical music, soundtrack music, even Disney soundtrack music, at its worst AND its best.

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When I first ventured upon this quest, as I mentioned above, I really had no idea what I was letting myself in for.  Until I spied the album cover, that is.  This is not the Scrooge you may have first imagined – it definitely was NOT the Scrooge I was expecting.  To my overwhelming surprise, it WAS/IS the one and only Scrooge McDuck, of Duck Tales and Disney movie fame.  It is, literally, a chronicle of his life, from the first track, entitled Glasgow 1877.  We presume that this is when and where Mr. McDuck was born, of course, and we move on.  By the by, when you first delve into Tuomas’ Facebook page, you may notice his ‘influences’, as it were: Metallica, Hans Zimmer (big soundtrack guy), Walt Disney, other heavy metal music, movie soundtracks and family.

Moving right along then; Glasgow… is a violin piece, mainly – it also features what sounds like a Japanese female vocalist.  Again, I’m assuming this.  I could be WAY off.  Let’s just say, for the sake of argument (no pun intended), that she’s Asian.  Her singing is good, but it is, by turns, disturbing and gleeful.  There are times when she can be a bit annoying, but then again it could be just my ear…she gets more so in a tune or two coming up here.

On Into the West, we are again reminded that though this is definitely an obviously cool side project, it is NOT Metal.  There is a blues harp solo of sorts about 4 minutes in, but that’s about as close to rock as this gets. Period. End of story.  If there is any room for doubt here whatsoever, let me remove it right now.  This stuff is NOT for rocking out, per se.  There are moments that are absolutely triumphant, but rock it is not.  Okay, enough of that nonsense. On we go!

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Duel and Cloudscapes is more of the same, classical in composition, and definitely as it sounds like it would be in the title.  Horns, strings and percussion fend off each other in a ribald repartee of rhythm!  Dig the whistles, too!  There is even some xylophone contained herein, as well as a tympani drum or two.  Bells and whistles, indeed!  So, we have established that this is more of a symphonic/orchestral adventure.  At about 3 minutes in, there is some more male/female chanting vocal acrobatics.  This track sounds like it was intended for a chase scene in a film.  And, with that, I believe I’ve discovered Tuomas’ purpose here.  This is obviously intended for a soundtrack for a film ABOUT The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck!  Or is it?  Only time will tell, but I haven’t seen a review for the movie – yet.

Dreamtime sounds a bit psych/quasi-classical.  Cool vibes mixed with heavy drums, a vibraphone and some even more bizarre instruments.  The humming/buzzing noise is kind of cool at first, but then gets old quickly.  A weird ending, too, so you shall hear – let us say it is a rather percussive ending.

Cold Heart of the Klondike features a beautiful piano intro, and definitely not the last one either.  There is some vocal interplay that may remind one of chanting female monks doing the Children of the Corn thing (à la the South Park episode where Britney Spears gets her comeuppance).  There is more of the cool classical vibe, with strings, flute, whistles, bells, the whole bit.  Everything including the kitchen sink.  Music inspired by Scrooge, indeed — only something tells me that he would have been a bit more sparing on the musical budget in the studio!

The Last Sled features another gorgeous piano intro, wherein there is narration, presumably from Scrooge himself (then again maybe it’s Tuomas).  During the narration, Scrooge assures us that ‘finding the gold is better than having the gold’.  Is it, then?  We are also told of the forest, and ‘(its) beauty fills me with wonder/the stillness fills me with peace‘.  A side of Scrooge that we seldom see, perhaps?  At 4 minutes in there is more of the aforementioned female vocals, and some exquisite piano accompaniment.  The line that chills me the most is ‘there’s gold…and it’s haunting me’.  Shivers went up my spine when I heard that…wait a minute, this is a cartoon we’re talking about!  Or is it?  You decide, dear reader, and please let me know what you come up with!

Goodbye, Papa features more violins, yet another gorgeous piano intro.  The piano/flute interplay continues as a theme of sorts throughout this work.  At 2 minutes in, things erupt in a classical way again, this time à la  Wagner, with a bit of force behind the construction.  STILL not even bordering on rock or metal, though.  Just thought I’d point that out AGAIN.

To Be Rich is more of the same, this time with a violin intro.  The disturbing female vocalist is there again, this time at about 1 minute in, and this time she is bordering on Yoko-esque histrionics.  She IS definitely a wee bit annoying at this juncture, but she redeems herself a bit later on in the same tune, so why not, right?  She speaks of ‘silent night(s)/silent years/sleepness night(s), etc., ad nauseum almost.  There is an interesting interlude of sorts at about 2:30.

A Lifetime of Adventure is another soundtrack-type piece, with the female vocalist again.  This stuff is bizarre at best, quite disturbing at its worst.  Like I said before, not, perhaps, for the feint of heart, but also not for the metal-minded.  Unless, of course, you also dig classical tunes.  If that’s the case, then cue it up, by all means!

Go Slowly Now, Hands of Time, the closer, features a beautiful guitar with vocal accompaniment.  Scrooge speaks of ‘a poet of Scotland (who) once cried: “Home is the sailor/Home from the sea”.  Again, the male/female singing at the end is exquisite.

Now, how to rate it?  If you came in expecting metal, then you would have to go low, maybe even as low as 2 or 3 stars.  However, if you’re not rating it AS Metal or Hard Rock, then you would have to rate it as a classical piece, or even, as mentioned before, a Disney movie soundtrack.  If that was the case, it would deserve at least 4.  So,there you have it.  If soundtracks or classical music or even Scrooge himself intrigues you, then you should give this a listen!

****/5

 

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Lacuna Coil – Broken Crown Halo

 

Lacuna Coil Broken Crown Halo

 

Century Media

Review by Suzi H

Minions  Readers come closer and let Auntie Elfie tell you a story…….

Once upon a time there was a very angry young woman who liked to listen to Heavy Metal. One day, in her meanderings through music, her ears were assaulted by a glorious cacophony of sound led by a woman of tiny stature with a big voice. And lo, our heroine discovered Lacuna Coil and female-fronted metal and Karmacode and Comalies made her very happy indeed.

Many years passed and the angry young woman grew into a much more even tempered music journalist. On a particularly memorable day she was given an assignment to interview one of the members of Lacuna Coil who were on tour with Paradise Lost, and so with great excitement the young woman went to The Roundhouse in that suburb of iniquity known as Camden and had a lovely chat with Cristiano ‘Pizza’ Migliore. He told her that by the next Summer, Lacuna Coil would have released a new album. And our pink haired, pierced reporter did the Heavy Metal Happy Dance of Glee and waited for the day when this no doubt groundbreaking and exciting musical offering would appear in her inbox.

So it came to be that the rockers from Italy produced an album. And the copy of it landed in the inbox of our reporter. And she played it once with great glee. And then she played it a second time just to make sure her ears had not deceived her.

And then she left it a week, and played it a third time to make sure she really wasn’t imaging it. Then the weeping started. For all her hopes had been shattered and her greatest fear had come true.

Lacuna Coil had produced an album that was not only less than spectacular it was BORING. The first track Nothing Stands In Our Way was quite good, and had almost elicited a nod but the rest of the album failed to raise a foot tap never mind a headbang.

Then the music reporter was very sad because she wanted to go to Bloodstock and  had been excited to see Lacuna Coil live again, and now she was going to have to watch a set full of boring songs and not be able to get her mosh on and that would be dull. Because no one can mosh to a set of the same track played over and over again for an hour which is what listening to Broken Crown Halo is like.

And to top it all off, the music reporters husband, who did not like Heavy Metal AT ALL, said “this is a brilliant album I really like it”. So the journalist glared at him, and said that it proved her point and went  and listened to Machine Head instead.

So there you go minions  Readers- if you would like to listen to the same track over and over again for an hour or so buy this album. If not, just go and listen to Dark Adrenaline and pretend this never happened.

*/5

 

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Sonata Arctica – Pariah’s Child

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Formed in 1996 in Kemi, Finland, again coming to you from the land of the ice and snow, are prog-metallers Sonata Arctica, featuring Tony Kakko on vocals and keyboards, Elias Viljanen on guitar, Tommy Portimo on drums, Henrik Klingenberg on keyboards and backing vocals, and Pasi Kauppinen on bass.  This latest offering of their is pretty fare material, judging from the first listen.  I am going back for a second listen as I type.

Opener The Wolves Die Young sports a wonderful intro, a charging statement of intent à la Trans-Siberian Orchestra (perhaps even a bit closer to Savatage, but then given their connection to T.S.O., this should come as no surprise).  Keyboards abound on this track, as you will find in the bulk of what’s on offer here.  It features one vocal surprise after another, and, as you shall see, there is PLENTY more of that to come throughout this album.

Running Lights features a double-time, almost thrashy intro, with a very cool lead thrown in for good measure.  This is shortly followed by a heavy beat and keys and vocal ‘story-telling’, if you will.  Again, this may not be the last time I mention Tony’s ability to weave a line or two.  These tracks are, more than anything else, a mixture of classical motifs and heavy metal.  I suppose if you’d like, you could call it progressive metal.  I would hesitate to put a label on these blokes, tho — putting musical outfits into genres is all well and good, you might say, but I prefer the eclectic artist — one who can surprise me from time to time.  I mean, I LOVE Dream Theater, but let’s just say prog rock/metal CAN become a bit predictable at times.  Not necessarily so, here, and more’s the better for it!

Take One Breath features a lovely piano intro and sky vocal acrobatics.  I’m sensing a pattern here.  At about 2 minutes in we get a classical piano/violin-esque (keys) interlude, but at 3 minutes in it’s back to the rock.  A lyrical line here sort of caught my attention as being slightly profound: “Slowly we become the new species of tomorrow“.  Interesting, isn’t it?  The title comes by way of a thematic ending with a gorgeous piano outro.

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Cloud Factory starts us out with a noise FX intro, but soon develops into another vocal tour-de-force.  In particular, at about the 3-minute mark, there are what I like to refer to as ‘vocal exercises’.  You may wish to refer to them as acrobatics, or what have you.  Be my guest, invent your own terminology, even, if you’d like!  This is not a closed forum, to the best of my knowledge.

Blood is a different sort of beastie all together.  About 45 seconds in, a distorted radio voice intro begins things, then an arctic thrash of sorts, driven by double-bass drumming.  At 1:25 there is some more ‘vocal’ interplay of sorts, then, at 2:10, they shift the proceedings into second gear.  There is talk of wolves, presumably the one on the cover of the album  I really enjoyed how the vocals can, at times, overpower the rhythm machine here.  There are actually also several examples of this throughout the album.

What Did You Do In the War, Dad? features a cool keyboard/slamming drums and bass intro, and is another obvious story-telling vehicle for the band, in particular the vocalist, Tony.  Half A Marathon Man is also good — the heaviness kicks in at about the 1:30 mark.  The strings at the end are exquisite.

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X Marks the Spot is another variation on a theme, if you will.  It is a for real storyteller vibe here, especially with the intro.  Tenacious D comes to mind when reaching for comparisons.  They (Sonata Arctica) are the pirates of the world in this comedy of rock, for lack of a better term.  This does not necessarily veer into, let’s say, Psychostick territory, but there are some subtle nuances of humour here and there.  There are also outright hilarious moments as well.  The vocals are, as per usual, heavenly.  It sounds as if tongue is firmly placed in cheek here.  I could be mistaken, but my Spidey-senses were tingling, so I just HAD to mention it!   This is rock and roller’s heavenly tale, and even includes a bit of rock and roll preaching (2:30).  Cool vocals (aye yi yi!!), throughout, even a children’s choir.  At 4:20 we find more rock and roll preaching, and just some funny stuff from beginning to end.  The outro rap is interesting, to say the least.

Love is another beautiful piano/vocal, but not just for the intro this time out.  It is a very pretty ballad, and it is perhaps somewhat appropriate that is the shortest track on the LP.  At about a minute in, some other instrumentation is barely detectable.  This is a gorgeous ballad, and they throw in some sky guitar soloing at about 2:50.  I was again reminded of Trans Siberian Orchestra and/or Savatage.

Larger Than Life, the closer, definitely lives up to its name in a couple of different ways.  For one thing, it is about twice as long as anything else on offer here.  We are assaulted by another beautiful vocal/piano intro – with violins again, no less!  Since it is as long as it is, I’m going to refer to it as the album’s ‘epic’ number, if you will.  We could use grandiose, if you’d prefer (I’m getting a bit fed up with my inability to consult a thesaurus for a better word, aren’t you?).  Larger has it all.  There is a bit of monk style chanting at 1:30, more vocal exercises at 2:20, more story-telling at the 3-minute mark, vocals poking fun at themselves at about 3:30, and even a string section interlude at 4:30.  At 5:30, we are back to the rock, but it’s sort of a chanting affair again.  At six minutes in, there is a collective gathering, then more piano/vocal interplay.  Simply beautiful.  At the 7-minute mark, there is more of the classical motifs-meets-metal stuff, and at 7:30 the tempo picks up a notch or two.  Once again, I was reminded of T.S.O.  At 8:30, there is a violin/piano/vocal thing that bears re-listening, and the outro-piano/violin piece is exquisite.  All in all, as I mentioned before, a tour-de-force, both vocally and musically!

*****/5

 

 

 

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Blood of Kings – Starvation

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Graveyard Productions/Tridroid Records

Review by Rick Ossian

I have been listening to this recording now for the better part of the week, and it is good, but it is derivative.  There are hints of Maiden, of course (the galloping bass/drum beats), Kixs vocalist, Steve Whiteman, has obviously influenced Nick Paul (guitar and vocals).  Nick is joined by Pete Yore (bass and vocals) and Eric Jelsing (drums).  But that is not what strikes you first about Blood of Kings.  What strikes at you the hardest, the deepest of all, is the tunes themselves.  As I mentioned above, things get a bit derivative (not to mention a bit repetittive), but good all the same.

When first I heard these fellows, I was just SURE there was a female screaming/shrieking/shouting (no offense, Nick).  There is some fine screaming in the lead-off track, Flat Line.  There is also some blues happening here.  Not your deep Southern-fried blues, but ROCK blues.  In between the Maiden-esque gallops and the flights of frenzy vocally, Blood of Kings can actually be pretty darned musical in their own right.  There is a decent guitar solo at about the 3:30 mark, then a bluesy section, then back to slamming thrash at the ending.  An abrupt ending it is, too, which may surprise some folks who are used to long, drawn out finishes.

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Starvation, the title track, is another uptempo rocker.  It starts out with some very cool lead guitar work.  This track was one in particular that reminded of Steve from Kix.  But, then, so was the first track.  The title track is one of those ‘hell yeah!’ kind of songs, where you can imagine lots of lighters/smart phones in the air, along with pumping fists, etc.  Without Fear is more of the same (screaming, good riffs, pedal-to-the-metal, erm, metal, if you will.  It is one of the longer tracks, at just over six minutes.  There are others that are longer, but this one is heavier.  Heaviness does not seem to be the trouble with BOK.  If anything, their only problem is their tunes tend to sound the same.

Shakes has more of a classic heavy rock vibe, almost stuck in the 60′s/70′s, some may say.  I was clearly reminded of some of my favourite “garage” bands from the hippie era (Blue Cheer, Amboy Dukes, et.al).  There is a very good guitar solo about 3 minutes in, then more guitar weirdness rounds out the track.  From about 4:00-til the end of the tune, things turn into a veritable riff-fest.

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Symbols of Man again features more of a classic heavy rock/psych vibe, then thrash.  Mix in a bit of Maiden (again), and there you have it.  Some slamming riffs, and a wicked guitar solo at about the 4-minute mark.  They double-time it for about the last minute or so.  Heart For the Land starts us off with a bit of feedback, then straight into the old-school funky/thrashy/metal vibe again, with screaming vocals on top.  The band namecheck themselves in this number.  I was wondering when this was going to happen.  Again, a guitar solo at the 4-minute mark, then more Maiden galloping at about six minutes in.  One more guitar solo, then a really nice jam outro at the end.

Time Has No Mercy slams straight out of the gate – it seems as if the lads are hell-bent on destroying their instruments with this last number.  At 3:30 they slow down for a little heavy rock bluesy sludge, then one more good jam at the end.  If it wasn’t so old school (or old hat), I’d probably rate it higher.  Guess I’ve just had enough thrash mixed with the blues!

****/5

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Oslo Ess – Aller Hjerter Deler Seg

Indie Records

Review by Suzi H

Release date 31 March 2014

Ah Punk. As a genre it holds a special place in my heart. As a music reviewer I don’t get to listen to nearly enough of it. Today, Indie Recordings sent me a preview copy of Norwegian band Oslo Ess, I got a little bit excited.

Reading their bio I was a bit worried – Oslo Ess have been nominated for a Norwegian Grammy, had five radio hits and hit No 1 on the national sales charts. Permit me a rare moment of hipster-ism, but punk is not known for it’s wide reaching popularity (Green Day don’t count)

Anyway, by the end of track one I was sold enough to listen to the rest of the album. The majority of the tracks aren’t in English – unsurprisingly they’re in Norwegian, so I can’t tell you what the lyrics are like but kicking off they sound pretty awesome. The album begins  with Stormenwhich is just so Ramones-esque I cried dirty black tears of joy. This isn’t angry punk, this is more rock-like and has a very catchy melody. I can see why they ended up with five radio hits!

Under Radaren continues in much the same vein – melody heavy, lyrically perky and with a clear chorus. It’s a nice track but isn’t particularly stand out. However, the next track Himmel og Helvete kicks things off again with a burst of energy and some fantastic fast drumming with plenty of beat changes. There’s still a hint of something missing though- whilst this is a nice album, three tracks in, it hadn’t grabbed me and made me have an OH MY GOD WIBBLE moment.

It’s very listenable though.

Down at the Docks is the first track with partially English lyrics. It stands out for the language change and also the comparisons to Flogging Molly and hints of Black Star Riders/ Thin Lizzy that trickle through. It’s got a toe tapping rhythm to it, and like the rest of the album is very melodic.

Midnatt kicks off with more of the guitar-driven melody and as I listened to it, I hit on what I was missing from this album – punk has an edge to it. Or at least the Punk I love does. I’ll listen to Blink 182 and Green Day quite happily when I want some music I can play as just background noise and I think Oslo Ess for me at least fall into that category.  They’re plenty good – there’s nothing *wrong* with the album but five tracks into an album there should be some blood, guts and a bit of dirt and there isn’t.

Det Brenner Under Beina Mine has a very Ska feel to it and is a nice bouncy song. It’s followed by  Leiter Etter Jobb which is well a bit weird and made me feel slightly uncomfortable because it was so HAPPY and 90′s pop rock. Bren Byen Ned  and Den Gyldne Tiden sound very similar and have some very 70′s classic rock riffs in them with a hint of KISS and Cheap Trick about them.

Finally, the album rounds out with I Skrivende Stund which is another nice track.

Look, it’s time for some Wyrd Ways Honesty. Don’t listen to this album if you want a punk album. You aren’t going to find it here. There’s a couple of tracks I’d call punk and the rest is a perfectly listenable rock album.  It’s not a bad album, I’d be happy to see the band live and I can see why they’ve done so well in Norway.  However, this is not a groundbreaking album, it’s background music.

***/5

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Hot Magenta – Rinse and Repeat

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Self release.

Available on Bandcamp

Review by Suzi H

So I’ve reviewed Hot Magenta when they’ve played live before and as I said then I’m friends with their drummer. So when I got sent a message offering me a sneak preview of their new EP I jumped at it. And when I say ‘new’ I mean they recorded it on Saturday.

The EP is short and sweet with three tracks - Live to Rock, live show favourite  Gummint and the bizarrely titled Evacuate Leamington Spar.

To give you an idea of how good this EP is, I started listening to it about 15 minutes ago, I’m on my second listen through now and I’d fired up the Review machine by the time Evacuate had started playing. Anyway, let’s do this methodically. Kicking off with Live to Rock  it’s immediately clear that *someone* has been digging through their LP collection and mainlining Status Quo and Iron Maiden along with general 80′s classic rock and the result is a perfectly spunky guitar heavy rock song with enough riffs to keep even the most die-hard devotee of rock happy for four and a half wonderful minutes. This is toe tapping, hip swinging rock at it’s finest, and I challenge anyone to not have their spirits lifted by it.

Gummint is an old Hot Magenta track and when I saw it live a few months ago I didn’t think it could be refined and improved upon. I was wrong. Hot Magenta are a band who’s recorded work is unlikely to ever capture the sheer dynamism of their live shows but this recording comes pretty damn close. It’s an evocative track and Alyssa (vocals) gets to demonstrate just how big her voice is. Which is funny because in person she is *tiny* .

Rounding out the EP we get to Evacuate Leamington Spar  which is a nice solid finishing track and is the cherry on top of the musical cupcake that Rinse and Repeat offers. The only bad thing about this is it’s too goddamn short.

*****/5

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Mekong Delta – In a Mirror Darkly

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Aarrg Records

Review by Rick (“The Fish-Man”) Ossian

To begin with, we should probably note that these fellows are from Germany.  All comparisons to other German/Scandinavian/European metal perfunctorily end there.  These cats are heavy, proggy, metal-ly (is that even a word?), classically-trained, incredible musicians.  They can be delicate and introspective at times, growly and melodically barbaric by turns — all in the space of the same song, even!  Mekong Delta boasts the incomparable Martin LeMar on vocals, the undeniably staccato brilliance of Ralph Hubert (bass & concert guitars), Benedict Zimniak and Erik Adams on all other guitars, evidently, and the peerless percussion of drummer Alex Landenberg.  Collectively, they form one of the most deftly capable heavy progressive metal bands of my recent list…the list, of course, being of bands I NEED to ‘discover’, as it were.  In other words, I am going to delve headlong into their back catalogue to see what other treasures I will most certainly happen upon!!

Take the opening epic (that word IS getting stale, isn’t it?), for example. You would think from its title alone that this is just a regular war song. After all, we ARE talking about The Armageddon Machine, here.  It is not ONLY a ‘war’ song, however.  There are several subtle nuances throughout.  I imagine it just depends on the sort of listener you are!  Then there is the follow-up to that number, Hindsight Bias.  There are so many tempo changes in here, I could easily imagine Metallica or Dream Theater standing by slack-jawed as they observe them from the side of the stage at their next gig.  At 5:24, it is the shortest tune on display here, but it is by no means a dud.  As I mentioned before, just try to keep track of the musical/melodic/chop changes, if you will.  I can also easily picture the arranger of the tune pulling their hair out!

On Inside the Outside of the Inside, we are treated to an instrumental of uncanny brilliance.  It is as if the drummer and the others are inevitably out to ‘outdo’ the others, as it were.  They slam along as if hell-bent on some breakneck hot rail to an incendiary destination! The drummer, from what I can tell, is probably the busiest of all. After all, there is only ONE of him, and THREE guitarist, if you count Ralph (bass) Hubert, and I most certainly do!

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Janus, sporting one HELL of a lovely riff, is about the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, according to Miriam.  So, a track about the fairy gods of thrash/prog metal, you say? But, Rick, you say, it’s all been done before — but NOT like this! Again, try to keep track of the stops, starts and turns, if you dare.  It is very much progressive metal in the vein of, erm, Mekong Delta! Nobody else really comes to mind, to be perfectly honest. At the halfway point (3:30 or so), we are treated to the sheer madness of a tinkly, creepy piano accompanied only by vocalist extraordinaire LeMar.  Who else does that?

Mutant Messiah is double-time speed slam and thrash vocals right out of the box.  I was distinctly reminded of Anthrax for a stray moment here and there, but other than that, no comparison whatsoever comes to mind.

Introduction and Ouverture is almost exactly the same length as its predecessors (both clock in at just over seven minutes), but the two tracks are similar in nature. I & 0 is a prog/metal/thrash melee derivative of Queensrÿche and any of the Big 4 thrash monsters (if you don’t know who those blokes are by now, just ask your favourite metalhead and they will fill you in).

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The closing number, The Silver in God’s Eye, is a different sort of beast all together.  It begins with tribal drums, violins and vocals.  Then in comes a piano and sparely plucked guitar.  Then the creepy backing vocals.  After that, Martin clearly takes over with his incredible range. It is also NOT your typical thrash/progressive metal tune, per se.  It is of its own ilk, if you will. At about the two-and-a-half minute mark, things begin to get even more intense.  As you can see, I have found yet another new fave!

Full marks!

*****/5

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