This CD is another one of those impulse buys I did a year ago, and boy am I glad I did. The story made short: I heard about this band, yet never got a chance to check them out (CD hard to find). One day, I decided to go CD shopping, and realized that if I bought one CD, I'd get another free. So I buy this CD and get another one free. Nothing to lose, right? As fate would have it, both CDs are some of the most unique and great CDs that I have! It's great when stuff like that happens. (The other CD is GORGUTS' "Obscura", if anyone is wondering).
Okay, I'm through reminiscing, on with the present.
This band, hailing from Texas and led by guitarist/keyboardist Davig Gallegos, have written a debut album that is just godly. To be honest, I'm afraid that by labelling these guys 'Progressive Metal' because you'd unfortunately think that this is either: A multitude of time and riff and tempo changes stapled together to form a 'song', or just a cheesy DREAM THEATER clone.
Thankfully, neither case is true. Although the band's extreme technical abilities are apparent, they use it to not show it off, yet build soundscapes and dreamy atmospheres, albeit in a dark tone. A few techniques are used to achieve this. One is the production. Everything can be heard, and the guitars have a bright tone to them. Another one is their ability to write subtle-ly complex music. You will not notice the time and tempo changes that go into the songs unless you sit down and listen carefully. A third is the techniques that the musicians use on the record. They don't exactly play together, they more accurately 'co-exist' with each other, with the drums, bass and guitars all playing around each other.
The greatest thing about these guys is they allow their songs to go wherever they may, giving them an epic feel, and allowing for the many tastefully done instrumental sections to arise. These sections are often laden with acoustic or Spanish guitars, giving them a Middle Eastern or Spanish sound, or if they aren't, it sounds atmospheric, allowing you to drift off into their music. With this type of writing style, where the music go where they will, it makes for long songs that deserved repeated listens, because a lack of direct hooks is apparent, and via repeated listens, the CD will grow on you, and its beauty will be apparent after.
The rhythm section is a feat in itself. The bassist plays around the guitars, and the drumming some of the best ever. It's complex, but it is done so to fit the song, and it's not overbearing at all. All three instruments fit with each other perfectly in a mosaic.
The vocalist sings in a manner that reminds me of Geoff Tate (QUEENSRYCHE). Unfortunately, sometimes the vocals just lack power behind them, but that happens only in sparse occasions. Furthermore, I'm surprised that anyone can come up with vocal lines over the chaos the instruments come up with, and make them fit.
Only two small complaints, and one is of personal taste, and one is an observation. The bass sounds a bit………weird. Its sound is mixed a bit to high, and has a metallic sound to it, which doesn't really work. The other complaint is the music isn't heavy. It doesn't grab you by the nuts. But with music this good, it doesn't really matter later, although it may for the initial listen.
If you want something unique within the Prog world, you should check these guys out. (Online July 12, 2003)