Following the success of 2007’s “The Origins Of Ruin,” Nick van Dyk and friends are back with a vengeance. “Snowfall On Judgment Day” is REDEMPTION’s highly-anticipated fourth studio album, and fans of the band should be happy to know that the band’s trend of going from strength to strength remains unbroken with this release. “Snowfall On Judgment Day” is as solid a Prog Metal album as they come, showing the band making yet another leap forward with their sound.
First off, “Snowfall On Judgment Day” is about five times heavier than “The Origins Of Ruin.” I mean, among Prog bands with Melodic tendencies, REDEMPTION was always one of the heaviest, but “Snowfall On Judgment Day” shows they’ve really got balls. If it weren’t for the carefully calculated technical precision on display in each song, one might even discern a bit of a Thrash influence (particularly on “Fistful Of Sand”). The leap in heaviness suits REDEMPTION incredibly well, adding a bit of extra punch to places where you didn’t even know it was missing.
Once again, van Dyk and his bandmates are in top form. Unlike on “The Origins Of Ruin,” lead singer Ray Alder (yes, he of FATES WARNING fame) can actually be heard very clearly in the mix; his vocals seemed a bit buried on the previous album. Alder gives a standout performance on the album’s catchiest track, “Life In One Day,” but his vocals are excellent on every song, and he even duets with DREAM THEATER’s James LaBrie on “Another Day Dies.”
Though the songs on “Snowfall On Judgment Day” are all fairly long, van Dyk keeps them all interesting with wildly different riffs and time changes. Even songs like “Keep Breathing,” which start off as entirely unpromising ballads, change into blistering ass-kickers in the blink of an eye. The songwriting is consistently good; the choruses are catchy when they need to be, and the verses are technically impressive when jaws are in need of dropping.
“Snowfall On Judgment Day” is just the latest step in REDEMPTION’s continuing evolution as one of the biggest bands in the Progressive Metal genre. The band has become heavier than ever, and it really works to their advantage, adding another layer to their already impressive sound. In addition, they’ve kept everything about their sound that made it so great in the past: impressive riffs, catchy choruses, and a deep, intense atmosphere. Prog fans won’t want to miss out on this one.
(Online November 28, 2009)