I’ve never really been able to get into an EIDOLON album before. I’ve given a few of them a chance, but the albums never really clicked with me. “Nightmare World” was boring and the production turned me off of “Apostles Of Defiance”. But when I heard that PAGAN’S MIND vocalist, Nils K. Rue, would be occupying EIDOLON’s revolving door vocal spot for the new album, I knew it was a record I would have to check out.
You see, Rue’s vocals are the highlight of PAGAN’S MIND, a band I probably wouldn’t pay as much attention to if it were not for him. And again, with EIDOLON’s “The Parallel Otherworld”, Rue’s vocals are the highlight. The album as a whole is pretty good, but the vocals, just like in PAGAN’S MIND, take it to the next level.
Now, I’m going to let my complaints with “The Parallel Otherworld” known from the beginning, the first being the sequencing. Whoever had the idea to put the 11-plus minute title track right at the start should have seriously re-thought the move. The track is overly long, slow going and takes many listens to sink in. And once it does sink in, it’s not a very good song, possibly the weakest on the album and it really brings things down from the start. A track of this sort is much better saved for the end of an album. Check out the new PHARAOH record for the right way to begin an album with a long song.
The second complaint, if you want to take it that way, is the compositional skills of the Drover brothers. I’ve never found their compositions to be all that great and they’re still not outstanding on “The Parallel Otherworld”, but they have certainly improved. All the songs will take multiple listens to really sink in and the first listen isn’t likely to warrant much more than a “man, Nils can frickin’ tear it up” (at least if you’re like me, that is).
After those multiple listens though, most of the songs will really begin to open up and an above average disc of very heavy, Progressive Power Metal will unfold before your ears. Highlights of the album include the thrashy “Arcturus #9”, the eerie “Ghost World” and “Spirit Sanctuary”. The cover of MERCYFUL FATE’s “The Oath” is also well done, with Rue doing a great King Diamond impersonation and excellent guest solos from Michael Denner and Hank Sherman. And speaking of guests, “The Parallel Otherworld” is full of guest guitar soloists, including Michael Romeo (Symphony X), Chris Caffery (SAVATAGE) and Frank Aresti (ex-FATES WARNING), amongst others.
The musicianship on “The Parallel Otherworld” is top notch, as each of these guys really knows their way around their respective instruments. There’s a reason Dave Mustaine added both Glen and Shawn Drover to MEGADETH’s line-up. And, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, Rue does an excellent job all around. He has a command of his voice that few in Metal possess, Daniel Heiman (HEED, ex-LOST HORIZON, ex-CRYSTAL EYES) possibly being Rue’s only better. And Rue’s lyrics are deep and thought provoking, as his fans have come to expect.
The production on “The Parallel Otherworld” is greatly improved over the last album as well, which is a definite plus. “Apostles Of Defiance” sounded muddy and the vocals spent most of the time buried in the mix. But the new record is clear and crisp, with everything mixed at just the right levels.
With a different vocalist, EIDOLON’s “The Parallel Otherworld” would only be a slightly above average album of Progressive Power Metal. But Nils K. Rue has lifted EIDOLON up a notch or two, making “The Parallel Otherworld” a very good album, worth checking out. So listen while you have a chance. With the way EIDOLON goes through vocalists, who knows how long, or short, this will last. (Online August 1, 2006)