Well, this sounds nothing like “Crossing The Rubicon,” unless you set your standards at “there are guitars, drums, a bass guitar and vocals with lyrics in English.” I guess they’re both melodic, but there’s a big difference between Melo-Death and Melodic/Power/Progressive Metal. It also sounds nothing like Chris Amott’s other band, ARCH ENEMY; I guess he wanted to spread his wings a little.
Befitting the style change, ARMAGEDDON has a new vocalist. Gone is growler Jonas Nyrén, newly arrived is Rickard Bengtsson (LAST TRIBE). Martin Bengtsson (ex-ARCH ENEMY) and Peter Wildoer (DARKANE, ex-ARCH ENEMY) are still around on bass and drums respectively, but guitarist Chris Amott is clearly the star of the show.
After “Awakening,” the disposable intro, “A Broken Spell” sets the groundwork with its slightly heavier-than-usual Power-tinged Progressive riffs and a solo that tries to throw us off the track of categorizing before settling into a more usual Prog scale fest. Rickard Bengtsson sounds about like what you’d expect a Prog singer, capable, though a little lower on the gradient than similar vocalists. “Blind Fury” is more of the same. “Illusion’s Tale” slows things down a bit, while “Moongate Climber,” an instrumental, starts out acoustic, then goes electric and becomes the most technical song on the album. The best song on the album, or at least the one that sticks out to me, is the acoustic closer “Grain Of Sand,” a ballad in speed if not content.
There’s not a whole lot to say about “Embrace The Illusion.” It’s Christopher Amott playing Power/Melodic/Prog Metal and I’m sure part of your enjoyment of this album will depend on how much that appeals to you. It appeals to me so I’m probably more forgiving of it than I should be. With “Embrace The Illusion,” ARMAGEDDON isn’t reinventing the wheel, breaking any speed records, or breaking their wrists with horrifically technical tricks. In some ways it’s a workman album, competent and unremarkable, but in others it rises above the usual simply because it has the emotion and conviction lacking in so many Prog bands these days. I’d say it’s mildly recommended. (Online May 7, 2006)