Well, where to start? Perhaps I should begin with the subject of style, and that the title Progressive Metal does by no means do EMPYREAN SKY justice. Overall, this is a combination of so many styles that immediately sets this band far apart from many so-called “progressive” bands. The strange thing is most of the riffs seem extremely generic on first listen, for the most part adopting a common sounding Melodic Death Metal feel. It was only upon numerous listens that the guitar style gradually didn’t bother me (as I’m not a big fan of Melodeath, especially due to the countless IN FLAMES and AT THE GATES clones), and eventually made sense, particularly in conjunction with the vocals, keyboards and the incredibly vast range of sounds this band uses. In fact, if the name CHIMERA wasn’t already taken, it would serve as the perfect name for these three.
From Melodeath to Death Metal, Thrash, Progressive Metal, Heavy Metal, Power Metal and Acoustic Rock/Folk, and in terms of vocals, instrumentation, rhythm, melody, harmony and key, of the six songs here, “TSWROP” certainly sticks in one’s mind. Considering the band use a drum machine (all three of them are guitarists, one covering bass I assume), the sound is really quite good; I couldn’t tell that it was a machine until I looked at the credits, so bravo on some very professional programming. The guitar playing is very good too, considering that one might expect it not to be given the somewhat budget sounding production. The vocals could do with some improvement though; the growls and other harsh vocals are very nicely done, and the singing that is attempted isn’t easy – lots of high notes and vibrato, but the singer doesn’t stay in tune throughout the whole album, which does detract from the overall experience.
The booklet included in the package should definitely be mentioned I feel. The front cover is really quite beautiful, as you might be able to just make out at the top of this review – lots of clouds and lightening, below a couple of angels whisking a naked sleeping someone to the skies above – quite a thought provoking, befitting painting. The same could be said of the picture behind where the CD sits, but then we move onto the inside of the booklet itself, which is where things go horribly wrong. For such diverse and intelligently written music one might imagine the band members gathered for a serious pose together or perhaps individually, instead the listener is greeted by a ridiculous picture of three guys striking “horns” with their hands, with the two at the back grinning inanely as if to indicate that the one in front has just has an unfortunate accident downstairs, which is in turn backed up by his facial expression. Just terrible, and I would imagine it might have put off a fair amount of reviewers from even going anywhere near this album. It’s just lucky the band didn’t put any pictures of themselves on the back, otherwise I doubt they’d get very many album sales at all. Honestly I can’t understand why a serious band with such potential would want to pose as if they were planning to out-spoof SPINAL TAP.
Anyway, that out of the way, “TSWROP” ain’t half bad, and given some time and few more albums I could see them getting quite a following for themselves, although with the huge range in styles they cover I’m not sure what sort of metalhead they would be aiming their music at.
(Online December 14, 2006)