Long time guitar virtuoso Lars Eric Mattsson is at it again with another album that is lined with a who's who in the industry including ARTENSION keyboard wizard Vitalij Kuprij and a list of vocalists that should make your mouth water. I will get into it a bit more as we go on. First up is "Where's Our Chance" led by Irene Janssen. Her voice is more than delicious to listen to, but in a Power Metal sense, it's a bit awkward. The track is off to a rocky start with Native American chants which are then followed by the blistering guitar riffs and pound double bass fury. Musically, it's tight and composed well, but the way the vocals are worked in, I'm not quite sure about. I think perhaps it's because she's too elegant sounding when she needs to be a bit rougher and meaner. It's just me though.
"Your Dream" adds a bit of ethnic flair with some Indian influences thanks to the sitar. It's Progressive both in the present tense and sort of in a 70's way ala PINK FLOYD with some of the atmospheric vibes tossed in. Lance King from ex-BALANCE OF POWER takes over here and for once, his voice is not quite what I'm used to. It seems a little too high, but what can I do. The drumming is extremely technical here and there is even a choir added here some added depth. Not bad, but you will need a few more spins before getting this. "Deep In The Shadows" utilizes keyboards performed in a Jazz fashion which makes this track sound sophisticated and classy. The legendary Mark Boals does a superb job as he doesn't disappoint and if you were a fan of his work in the past, keep listening because it's top notch. By far, the best song on the album.
The sounds of the guitars toughen up a bit and get a little heavier as we approach the ten minute epic "Smoke And Mirrors" and is completed by some odd choir chants and a very whiney performance from Andre Vuurboom from SUN CAGED. The music remains great the vocals are easily forgettable. Irene's voice is better suited on the ballad "A Dreamer's Lullaby." It's melodic, tender and composed quite well. Bjorn Jansson from IMAGINERY and TEARS OF ANGER delivers a tight performance during "This is The End" as his voice is as strong as Mr. Boals and the song simply rocks out hard and to the max. It takes six minutes of odd chanting and acoustic guitar work before everyone gets plugged in for the fourteen minute track "War Suite Concerto." This is really a schizophrenic piece of work because we go from Progressive to neo-classical to just plain out there. It's one wild and unpredictable ride. You can consider that one more or less an instrumental. Different females close out the show with "Requiem." It's gentle and relaxing, but they do manage to drum up some up beat moments.
I think what Lars has done on here is nothing short of amazing including all of the solos contained within, but the choice of singers on here could be debated and perhaps the way in which each person sang on here. I think fans of Progressive concept stories will dig this, but it will warrant several listens before picking out your favorites. (Online December 7, 2005)