DREYELANDS – ROOMS OF REVELATION (ARCHIVE REVIEW)

Out Now  – Lion Music

Hungary might not be the first destination to spring to mind if you were to take a world cruise of progressive metal hotbeds, but with their debut ‘Rooms Of Revelation’, Dreyelands will instantly make you add the country on your must check out list and also give the genre’s big boys something serious to be worried about.

Freshly signed to Lion Music the band may just have found their ideal home as the band sound ideal for what the label promote – high quality melodic progressive metal.  Couple that with a stunning album cover and overall presentation from the band and this suggests a band that is concerned about all aspects of their presentation.

‘Rooms Of Revelation’ is home to 9 tracks (1 short intro and 8 “rooms”) the album is a concept piece which depicts a journey in a schizophrenic mind.  The rooms signify points in the mind of the main character as we learn about his past as does he.  However, it’s nothing to get bogged down with as the songs stand individually as well as any non concept album.

Musically the songs are powered by heavy guitar riffs and great lead work from András Ádám Horváth (a guitarist of considerable skill) fused with ultra melodic, memorable vocal themes from Nikola Mijic who possesses a superb strong clear voice with no accent to speak of.  To these ears he is like a more gritty Göran Edman and takes the band away from all the Russell Allen / James Labrie clones that litter the genre. Special mention also needs to go out to bassist Gergely Springer and drummer Omar Gassama who are a quite formidable rhythm section.  Keyboards on the album are handled by Zoltán Kas who has since left the band being replaced in a hired capacity by György Nagy (Age of Nemesis).

Sonically ‘Rooms Of Revelation’ is big, modern and natural with the band boasting of no triggers on the drums and live string arrangements  for which extra kudos must be given. 

Each of the main body of songs are highlights in their own right, whether it be the dark ‘Seek For Salvation’, the groove inflected ‘Can’t Hide Away’ (check promo video on side of review), the commercial and impossible catchy ‘Pretending’ with its glorious chorus and melodic hooks, and the firey riffery of ‘Fragments’ which again has enough hooks on to hang the coats section of H&M all make the first half of the album fly by  despite all clocking in over the 5 minute mark- always a good sign of quality

Things get darker hereon in with ‘Way To You’ being quite complex musically yet accessible vocally, the gentle piano led ballad ‘Blossoms Of Decay’ is a nice breather before the numerous facets of ‘Vain’ takes hold (some great riffs are contained within) and the glorious final track ‘Closing Grace’ which again which is sure to find favour with fans of Dream Theater, Seventh Wonder and the like plus I detect a little of the darkness of label mates Tomorrow’s Eve on the chorus.  A fine closer.

With ‘Rooms Of Revelation’ Dreyelands may well have delivered the prog metal album of 2010 and a serious contender for album of the year overall.  Given this is a debut offering suggests the band have a great future ahead and I sincerely hope all prog metal fans take a chance on this unknown band as they will be richly rewarded on all levels – simply awesome.
 
Hot Spots : Everything.
Rating : 98%

www.dreyelands.com


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SYMPHONY X – PARADISE LOST (ARCHIVE REVIEW)

Symphony X return after 5 years with the highly anticipated “Paradise Lost” which many fans hoped would see the band return somewhat to their classic “Damnation Game”/”Divine Wings Of Tragedy” sound.  It more or less goes without saying that the bands rapid fans will buy this regardless of what critics say so this review is aimed more for the un-initiated.  Simply said Symphony X have proved over the last decade or so that they are one of the best bands in the progressive metal genre and “Paradise Lost” is an excellent starting point for anyone yet to sample the bands brand of metal.  Gloriously pompous with lush orchestral keyboards arrangements by Michael Pinella, sublime guitar riffs and solos from one of Metal’s best players in Michael Romeo, a superb rhythm section of drummer Jason Rullo and bassist  Michael Anthony LePond all topped off with arguably one of metals best vocalists since Ronnie James Dio in Russell Allen

Instrumental opener “Oculus ex Inferni” is complex and film score like before “Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies” comes hurtling out the gates of hell with an intensity and purpose that it totally satisfying.  “Domination” begins with a complex bass guitar part which is then backed up Romeo and crew and it’s another all round sonic delivery with massive riffs, soaring vocals and a tightness rarely heard – this is metal with spirit and a highlight.  “The Serpents Kiss” repeats the previous tracks overall hugeness with its scolding main riff yet the band allow melody to also shine in tandem.  The title track “Paradise Lost” is another in the line of magical Symphony X compositions that the band throw into nearly every album which is a very special own brand of melodic progressive with numerous sections and beautiful melody which grows as it progresses and Russell Allen’s vocals are truly mesmerising.  “Eve Of Seduction” sees the band work through some complex instrumental patterns before another manic riff which even Pantera fans would get a massive kick out of.  “The Walls Of Babylon” is complex in arrangement yet quite digestible thanks to one of Allen’s best vocals on the album and its a definite highlight with all the Symphony X ingredients here in abundance.  “Seven” sees some neo-classical inflections which is sure to please fans of the bands earlier releases.  Here Romeo’s guitar and Pinella’s keyboards are unleashed to dramatic effect before Michael Anthony LePond lays downs a complex bass line, Romeo surprisingly delivers a very short and relatively simple solo before launching back into the main riff.  “The Sacrifice” sees the band return to grand epic majestic tone which again is a sheer sonic treat in all respects and another vocal master display from Allen.  “Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)” ends the album on a definite high with a riff count high enough to win gold medal at the riff Olympics, yet luckily this is also backed up by more delicious melodies all topped with a grandiose extended middle instrumental section where each band member shines.

With “Paradise Lost”, Symphony X has made the album many fans felt they needed to make.  After 2 relatively ordinary albums (by their own standards) with “The Odyssey” and “V: The New Mythology Suite” this new work seems them return to the quality heard on their classic earlier albums yet with the best elements from the aforementioned “Odyssey/New Mythology”.  Simply said the wait has been worth it and this is an essential purchase for long-term fans and newbie’s alike.  Welcome back.

RATING  – 94%

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ALLEN • LANDE – THE SHOWDOWN (REVIEW)

Third instalment from the Frontiers “manufactured” band  with two of the most acclaimed vocalists in metal in Symphony X’s Russell Allen and Ark/Masterplan/Solo vocalist Jorn Lande.  As with the previous two efforts all the music is penned by “songwriter for hire” Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear / Starbreaker etc)  who contributes all guitar, bass and keyboard to the album.  As if often the case with long distance albums of this type the project does loose some of the closeness a direct collaboration between all involved might give.  That said, despite this being quite formulaic melodic metal in terms of song writing its going to be somewhat of a hit and miss affair.

Vocally there is little to fault. Lande is in fine form giving a commanding delivery. Allen’s vocals don’t have quite the sheen they had back in earlier Symphony X days but still are still noteworthy in terms of phrasing and impression.  Karlsson’s guitar work is perfectly functional, the guy has never blown me away in terms of originality but is solid enough, his strength more as a songwriter than a guitar hero which is perhaps the whole idea given the branding of this album.

Highlights come in the guise of the title track with its punchy delivery and here the two vocalists combine admirably.  Goodies are to be had elsewhere in the melodic vocal fest of “Turn All Into Gold” and “The Guardian” where the mix of vocalists and song writing again gel nicely indeed.  That’s not to say all is strong, the album does get a little safe and bland in a number of places, particuarly “Maya” and the plodding “Eternity”.  Overall the song writing is solid, but lacking a little in terms of originality and there is a sense of having heard in all before by a number of different acts.

“The Showdown” sees the tried and tested Allen Lande formula again working mostly as it should with the album being a little heavier and more straight-ahead than its predecessors, but like its precursors also leaves me finding it somewhat of a mixed bag, not that there is anything terrible here but nothing truly mind blowing either.

 Overall if you liked the predecessors you will like this.

Rating  – 78%