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Discussion in 'Nightmare Records' started by MEGALOUD, May 18, 2007.


    MEGALOUD The Nightmare Has Begun..

    Nov 9, 2005
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    Minneapolis/St. Paul,MN (The Twin Cities)

    Attention, metalheads! Should any of you be around the New Jersey area and happen to run across the guys from Suspyre, take off your hat to them for me and say, 'Your band is a pure genius of power progressive metal, dudes! No less than that!'

    As you probably understood me, folks, it's about time to keep the standards of genuinely progressive metal flying high up again! If you don't believe me, do yourself a favor and get A Great Divide, the second full-length release by this young but up and coming quintet from New Jersey, at any cost please! Why am I so persistent that you should hearken to the voice of yours truly and take to this album? Because these guys are just incredible musicians freely jumbling up all sorts of seemingly incompatible segments, like power metal pomposity and jazzy fusion, classic art rock intricacy and thrashy aggression, symphonic neo-classic grandeur and unthinkable fireworks of the guitar art. Because this album is like an amazing journey into the ultra-mundane, never-seen galaxies of rock music in a hyper-technology vehicle equipped with all sorts of amenities for you to get a real kick out of it. Because it is such an in-depth piece of work that I was even unwillingly forced to forget about Seventh Wonder's Waiting In The Wings, Threshold's Dead Reckoning and Symphony X's Paradise Lost for a while.

    Yes, you'll find the whole ball of wax and even more here if you get around to giving this marvel at least one completely absorbing and uninterrupted listen. Symphony X, Angra, Divinefire, Kamelot, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Yes, Genesis (their art rock stage), King Crimson and even Miles Davis are just a few names that recur to me while I'm listening to it. In fact, there is much more in here with quite an audible stress on power symphonic metal as a flagship with the rest of the motley fleet furrowing just a tad behind. Yes, power metal is the major musical source for these guys by way of which they masterly glue all their jazzy odds and proggy ends together. In this they do not remind me of any existing band in the genre, yet their approach can be somewhat compared to that of Sweden's living legend of art rock Flower Kings, who are also capable of jointing dynamic jazzy fusion and awesome melodies without any slightest hitch.

    OK, let me start with the vocal work embellished not only with a harshy, slightly trembling tenor of Clay Barton but also with a bunch of other voices (or is it one and the same person!) choiring lots of weird, somewhat unheard harmonies in the most proficient way you can ever expect from such a young-looking group as they are. A one-minute prelude Forever The Voices is a perfect example of this singing solidarity. Another feast of such vocal eccentricity is presented in Resolution, a two-minute etude accompanied by the distant rain rustling and pretty alluring acoustic guitars. And once again, Clay Barton is an owner of a huge throat capable of covering a few ranges at a time. The man can sound both pretty angry and emotive, which is especially audible in the mellower pieces like The Spirit and The Piano Plays At Last.

    Well, now from the vocal sorcery to the guitar lordliness. I'll take the liberty to claim that the band's guitar duo consisting of Gregg Rossetti and Rich Skibinsky is something I have yet to hear in a metal band. These two are not only the gods of the fret and the strings, but they are also one inseparable mechanism (think of Petrucci and Romeo colliding in a hell of a guitar jam) brilliantly complementing each other. There's hardly a single song where you won't be struck dumb by their inconceivable talents, but instrumental Galactic Backward Movements evidences them in the most shining manner. The guitar tunes are plural and inventive. The low-tuned leads of Symphony X style are frequently escorted by the crystal-clear plucked guitars or nearly unimaginable vortex-like solos of every stripe. Out-of-the-blue power metal assaults, backed up by the tremendous battery, are rapidly substituted by the thrashy shredding reminding me at places of Jani Stefanovich's work in Divinefire and even Miseration. Actually, it's a better-to-hear-once-than-read-twice case, for no words will put across what these guitar wizards sound like, folks.

    The key arrangements and symphonic sections also own the lion's share of this album. Some of the tracks or their considerable parts, like Bending The Violet or the intro to Galactic Backward Movements, are pure homage to the great classic legacy with the set of the instruments due in any respectable orchestra, from all sorts of strings to unusual kettle-drums to brass and even pipes. In some other tracks, the guys feel free to incorporate the saxophone, which turned out to flow so smoothly and tastefully against the wall of heavy leads and thudding bass that I reconsidered my attitude in favor of this instrument in a metal band at a moment's notice. But what comes as a specialty of this release is an absolutely ingenious piano work by Rich Skibinsky (you see, this guy is a multi-instrumentalist, as well as his guitar partner Gregg Rossetti), so versatile and inscrutable are his collages they are alone worth the money spent on this album.

    The album is broken down into two big parts: Opus II: The Alignment of Galaxies and Opus III: The Origin of a Curse, with each of them clocking around at a 35-minute mark. However the opuses themselves are sub-divided into independent tracks of different durations ranging from one-minute breaks to nearly 10-minute epics with all of them being what any prog/power metalhead can only anticipate from a premier league band aiming at marrying their manly instrumental virtuosity to the melodic divinity given from on high in the best way imaginable. The melodies are catchy and sophisticated frequently taking the listener beyond the boundaries of predictability and simplicity, which is a big plus for the band not to be referred to as another we-heard-it-all-before type. All the tracks are equally amazing, so it's entirely impossible for me to single out any personal favorite tune here. Take opener The Singer with its incredible collaboration between the jerky irregular riffs and elegant acoustic guitars, or April In The Fall, knocking you down with its damn beautiful galloping leads and all sorts of solos, or Subliminal Delusions calling up the enchanting oriental themes and the oddest synth effects I have ever heard, or The Piano Plays At Last touching you to the core of your soul with its mellow affecting cello and balladesque charm, or Blood And Passion, a dream-epic for those desperate for some extremely infectious tunes and frantic instrumental bacchanalia. Every single track here is worth its weight in gold and can equally be enjoyed both separately and along with the rest of the album.

    So how else can I put my fascination by this album? The world of metal is full of big and small surprises, and as much as I love Symphony X and Threshold, Paradise Lost and Dead Reckoning respectively will have a tough time trying to knock A Great Divide off the pedestal it rightfully occupies right now. No money can measure its price, for it is one of those cds that must be taken care of like an apple of your eye, thoroughly dusted upon every listen and kept within touch. As Deke said in one of his reviews, This album is a 9 on bad days, and a 10 on great days. Luckily, when it comes to A Great Divide the crappiest of the days is quickly lost in a mass of its magic sounds.


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