Out now on Regain RecordsOriginal review published in 2004
Keyboard whiz Richard Andersson returns with the second Time Requiem album – “The Inner Circle Of Reality”. The bands debut from 2002 was a superb slice of progressive neo-classical metal with a strong Malmsteen overtone to it. “The Inner Circle Of Reality” sees the Malmsteen-esque sound being replaced by a sound more inline with the likes of Symphony X or Adagio (of whom Andersson contributed solos for Sanctus Ignis). This is however much more keyboard led than either Symphony X or Adagio and this is what keeps Time Requiem original in a highly competitive genre.
The band has seen a couple of personnel changes with bassist Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Csörsz in the drummers seat. The album was recorded and mixed by Reingold and Andersson and the sonic results are very powerful.
Opener “Reflections” is sure to please all fans of Symphony X thanks its intricate riffing and powerful vocals courtesy of Apollo Papathansio (a cross between Jorn Lande and Russell Allen), this is a very intense track that just begs to be cranked up.
Title track “The Inner Circle Of Reality” is an epic in every sense, clocking in at over 11 minutes it takes you through a myriad of levels thanks to its very progressive nature. The verse is quite superb with a very classy melody line and this gives added weight to the package. The track has a slight neo-classical feel in places which is sure to make fans of the bands debut feel right at home. At around the six minute mark Richard Andersson takes us back to 70’s Prog with a keyboard solo that is quite Rick Wakeman. This then moves into territory similar to that of U.K. with some greet Mini Moog-esque sounds being used before guitarist Magnus Nordh comes in with a smooth legato filled solo. This causes Andersson to up his chops and we are flying high! The track then leads back into another verse and chorus and the track comes full circle.
“Dreams Of Tomorrow” starts with a dark mystical quality with harpsichords, horns and cymbal crashes, close to Adagio, a dark nature lends itself to Apollo Papathansio delivering a very classy vocal. The track has a superb chorus, which sees a great musical progression underneath. The track is a bit more guitar led than the other numbers and this helps make the riff stand out. The solo sections see some blazing duels from Nordh and Andersson. Andersson’s solo here being positively blinding.
The trademark Time Requiem sound leads us into “Attar Of Roses”. This track has a very majestic quality to it (in both sound and reference to Majestic – Andersson’s previous band). The neo-classical overtones are here in spades and make you realise just what a special partnership Richard Andersson and Yngwie Malmsteen could have if they ever get around to hooking up! The solo section sees all manner of classical inflections from Andersson and makes you realise why he is at the top of the metal keyboard player rostrum. But it’s the strength of the verse that really makes the track quite superb.
“Definition Of Insanity” begins with keyboards and drums setting a heavy prog setting. This transcends into a progression that fans of Dream Theater will appreciate right away. The track is up-tempo but is the most mainstream sounding track on the album – catchy metal with progressive overtones.
“Quest Of A Million Souls” sees Andersson lay down some sublime keyboard solos. What sets this guy apart from a lot of metal crowd is his ability to add a very human lyrical quality to his work. This is achieved by making great use of the pitch wheel and sounds that although familiar seem warmer than the average synth tone. The almost ballad nature of the track does offer some rest from the frantic work found elsewhere, but the classical influences again rear there head on the chorus chord progression.
“Hidden Memories” you just know is gonna be killer from as soon as the initial keyboard pattern rings out. I hear shades of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells here as well as a little Images & Words era Dream Theater in the intro. This is thrown out the window for the relatively simple verses and a chorus that manages to combine frantic double bass drum work with a simple vocal melody line. Then a variation on the intro comes back and you realise how well the blend works. Andersson’s keyboard solo really hits all the right notes, with an almost Malmsteen feel to the way he can extend passages and yet maintain the interest of the listener.
A short instrumental piece between Andersson and bassist Jonas Reingold for” Bach Prelude Variations”. Short, classic, and a nice way to end the album.
With The Inner Circle Of Reality, Time Requiem has managed to add another extremely strong album to their discography. I probably prefer the bands’ debut a little more due to the slightly more neo-classical nature of it, but there is a lot to absorb and enjoy on this release. The band are obviously maturing and honing their sound to something that Richard Andersson’s ideal vision represents and it’s a ride that is a very rewarding one.
Hot Spots : Reflections, The Inner Circle Of Reality, Attar Of Roses, Hidden Memories.
Rating : 90%