Departure ($5 Blowout Price!)

SKU: 88697001192
Label:
Columbia Legacy
Category:
Hard Rock
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Remastered edition with 2 bonus tracks.

"The third and final album of what could be called Journey's cocoon phase (Escape would give birth to a fully formed butterfly and put the band through the stratosphere), 1980's Departure would also be the quintet's last with keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Rolie. Produced by Geoff Workman and Kevin Elson (essentially both engineers turned producers), the album continued to build on the band's previous two recordings, but offered an added edge, arrangement-wise. This was likely due to the fact that the band had walked into Automatt Studios with 19 new tunes and proceeded to record most of them live, eventually trimming down to 11 songs. Catapulted all the way up to number eight on the Billboard Top 200, Departure was the band's highest charting album to date and got off to an explosive start with the driving riffs and chorused vocals of "Anyway You Want It" (another radio smash that would chart Top 25). Never sounding tighter, the quintet then launched into "Walks Like a Lady" (another future FM staple, climbing to number 32) and a string of outstanding rockers, including future concert opener "Where Were You" and the stop-go-stop-go energy of "Line of Fire." On the other hand, elegant power ballads like "Good Morning" and "Stay Awhile" would foreshadow the band's future commercial triumphs on Escape. And even though it packs the occasional filler like "Someday Soon" and "Homemade Love" (a weak attempt to boogie that falls absolutely flat), Departure is a solid record all around. Soon, Rolie would be replaced by the greater pop-savvy songwriting muscle of former Babys keyboard man Jonathan Caine, and Journey would go from huge cult act to monster superstars." - All Music Guide

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  • "Peter Frohmader is bound to his "Nekropolis" visions, by being both the ultimate artist, even when rich names and artists help around with composition ideas and groans or settle or diverse the mood of those vision, and the first in line to be absorbed by "Nekropolis"'s brand of imagination, impulse and histrionic character, launching and spiraling around the project for a lot of his rich and contentious desire and impact of music. The sense of "Nekropolis", coming from the physical choice and adventure of the bare project, helped him and disguised him as the artist very marked by avant-garde and experimental music, doing also a bit of jazz and hard rock, plus taking the progressive steps of complex music movingly literal - but, essentially, once he settled in electronic "mashterings" (the 80s's sunrise, most lately), it gives him the mask of a soundoholic artist, with lots of hard and hypnotic, technical and disturbed spirit in the genre. It is even an alluded thought that, among some clear and unmovable essential albums, the Nekropolis projects reflects a dynamic, endless and astounding part of Frohmader's artistic concentration and abscond psych-vision, throughout full sessions that may, at most, seem too undifferentiated (and without a complaisant feeling in them), nevertheless obtain a powerful music in a dark lock of genuine or dissimilar orientation.Nekropolis 2 is the first-rated and best to recommended from the early Nekropolis project and emphasis, one that included a first volume in 1981, plus four mini-sessions Frohmader made even before his classic debut. If the size of the Nekropolis project ambition becomes needless to describe, each album, and Nekropolis 2 most precisely, has an independent layer and focus - even if the tendency is to called Frohmader the dark sage or the sound-rash visceral artist in most of everything that makes sense in his music.The part extravagant part aleatory indite of Nekropolis 2 makes it an album of "soundtracks" and sound-forms, produced under a collaboration and a visual-motivation with H.R. Giger, who paintings celebrate (or must celebrate) the same dark affinity and rhetorical art as Frohmader's engines of electronic and improvised music. Similar to the whole idea of electronic nekro-vision and codification, we can relate how the grave artist Lustmord will combine the visual with the soundscape, the brutal flesh of a particular idea with the difficult sound of that idea's interpreted essence. Robert Rich and other ambientists try something in this particular movement too, but not so amazingly. As music, what I can't link is the classic scorches of artists like Kluster or Amon Duul, because it is simply of a different quality and a new homegrown effort. At least not by Nekropolis 2's chaotic and phantasmal installment.Nine pieces are squeezed in two sides of an LP (I don't know for sure how limited has this album become, but a second year of release, 2001, made a benefical treat), all nine treating, psychologically and exasperatingly, sound experiments, screeches of impulses and blind movements, independent tastes and difficult to compel umbers and embers of electronic poly-morphic expressions. This album becomes strong, even terrifying, to much of the valorous impressions, even considering those that experience the clash of kraut rock and noise amphitheatric constructions. The style oscillates madly between electronic, dark ambient, rock and even goth-impelled music personality, since a lot of instrument power is used, Frohmader adopting a multi-instrumental implosion: from Rhodes to guitars, from waves to machinist impulses, from vibrations to an actually absent but credited vocal-infliction. It's a sort of humongous contracting and contrasting work-load, creating the 'simple' arrangements of experimental and avant-demonic electronic moves.You can hardly associate the drastic music with anything but Frohmader's own neoplastic explosion of atonality and micro-experimentalism, under the heavy preach of electronic use and abuse. A few moments try some rhythm or some dubbed ambiance, but such thoughts are quickly forgotten, and the style returns to the blend of musical dark forces and electronic technical virtues. The best sounds are obtained not by finding the simplest experimental mix, but by actually building up a sinister monolith of musical flux and interference. The dark and impossible shrieks become a side of evil art Frohmader mostly resumes as electronic stability. Beyond the sugestive names (Hardcorps,Neutronen Symphonie), there is a continuous avalanche of rough and systematically incinerating sound systems, forcing the deepest mind to gasp an exclamation - or to collapse under the pressure.Nekropolis 2 is not one of the most essential and perfect Frohmader compositions, but it tends to dangerously play with the biggest details of his grandest styles, in a way that it actually is simply one project of dark-experimental electronic impeach from many others. Tonic and technically valorous, this, much like anything by the artist, goes for those lovers of unconventional and harsh art. It is, however,a good example of the electronic 80s not being flask, but having their own kind of absurdity and gloat-impressionable art." - ProgArchives
    $8.00
  • "Refreshing, powerful, and extremely melodic – the adjectives I’d use at a push to describe Teramaze‘s 5th album. I have to admit I pretty much consider this their sophomore release as I was not party to their releases throughout the 90′s, with my first introduction to the band with their 2012 powerhouse ‘Anhedonia’ which quite ironically generated feels of anything but anhedonia. There has been an undeniable buzz around this release and I have found it virtually impossible to escape the widespread word and hype around this album anywhere I look online; generally I wouldn’t necessarily see this as categorically positive as it can taint your expectations unintentionally. Thankfully for the most part, my expectations and hopes with this album have been realised to the point that I welcome any melodic, thrash, progressive or otherwise metallically inclined music fan to check this 79-ish minute thematic conceptual monster.The initial impressions I have when comparing this with ‘Anhedonia’ is a development away from the slightly more thrash-oriented direction that I suspected was the impact of the members growing up in the era where that particular sub-genre beared its greatest fruits. I use the term development as I believe it has very much naturally progressed as compared to what I would consider a departure. The addition of more progressive structures and more varied layering works exceptionally well in Teramaze‘s favour to create a soundscape of in your face riffs, contemplative and brooding moods, earworm choruses, and timeless unity across the entire album.Without doubt one of the things that will grab listeners’ attention is the astonishing fretboard wizardry of band leader and Dean Well’s who treats us to undeniably wondrous smorgasbord of head nodding animosity (special mention to the riff at 2:02 in ‘Line of Symmetry’ – that will get you nodding with the mania of Jack Black), and emotive, creative, delicious lead playing that is akin to guitar heroes aplenty (Petrucci, Sfogli, Skolnick – just to name a few). The balance of great lead playing and rhythm work is a pleasure with nothing inappropriately overstated like one can sometimes expect of the genre. As a special addition, the tones are simply incredible on this album and it is glued perfectly with the bass and bonded by the fairydust keyboards that emerge to keep the sonic palette interesting (courtesy of Circadian Pulse keyboardist Dave Holley).The production is another point of veritable quality with all the instruments presented in a crystal clear state whilst maintaining vibe and not losing out to sterility which is a sad by-product of the self-produced musical climate of 2014. The only complaint I really have is that the mastering is a little hot which is noticeable after the first track (which was mastered in my ideal sweet spot). It sits at DR6 across the whole album on average which is nothing out of the ordinary for this day and age but it occasionally gets fatiguing especially over such a long record. Thankfully moment of distortion are kept to a minimum, however there are some trace elements of weakened transients and the occasional buried vocal that loses intelligibility.Vocalist Brett Rerekura is a joy to listen to and I am appreciative of the fact although his voice pushes the aggressive edge to fit the setting of the music, it is rich in melody and characteristic timbre and is not sabotaged with growls. Long live the singer in a metal band, I say! I detect glimmers of Layne Staley, Sebastian Bach and the rhythmic phrasing of James Hetfield. My only beef is the occasional “Aussieisms” I hear in some inflections which I am hyper-sensitive too (even though I’m Australian myself), however this doesn’t detract too much from what is a splendid vocal performance across the board. There are moments of supreme delicacy especially in ‘Bodies of Betrayal’ which I would have liked to have heard more of as well as a bit more of that delicate side to the band overall to give this album the dynamic curve it deserved. This is of course only a minor criticism.The album’s concept, while not narrative based centres around the experiential nature of deception; especially by that of governing bodies and the powers that be. I think the title of ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ is perfectly apt as this is not the viewpoint or mindset of everyone and best kept as the worldview of a particular minority of people. I think for some the lyrical approach could border on conspiracy but I like the exploratory nature of them and what is truly the harm in questioning some of the taken-for-granted “truths” we hold in this ever-changing world. Kudos to Teramaze for honestly and whole-heartedly fusing their beliefs with such hard-hitting music in a way that I see as completely lacking pretence.For me the standout tracks are ‘Bodies of Betrayal’, ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ (6:53 in this gives me goosebumps), and ‘viii In Vitro’ as I believe they hold the most profound emotional connection with me due to the individual moods they build. I have to admit the only track that I am not particularly keen on is the one with the guest vocals as I feel as though it breaks the flow of the album in a way that was superfluous to requirements. It came across as guests for guests sake which is probably my most direct criticism of the record.This is an exceptional release that stands up to my extremely critical ear and was only let down by perhaps a slight lack of expression with regards to dynamics (mastering and songwriting) across such a long album. Its length to some may indeed be a bit hard to swallow in single listens, however this is par for the course for me as a fan of long form writing. For fans of Metallica, Dream Theater, Alice in Chains and anyone who wishes to have a boot up the bum and an electrode to the brain from an ambitious and highly satiating album." - Metal Obsession
    $12.00
  • "With a shockingly tight performance and a handful of evil anthems, Glen Benton and company managed to craft a death metal classic with their eponymous debut. Taking their Satanism to a new level of seriousness, Benton was burning crosses into his forehead and desecrating churches to promote this album, something that didn't exactly endear them to the mainstream metal media. While similar (and even weaker) groups were getting hyped up as the leaders of the death metal underworld, this album struck a chord that would, for good or bad, instantly inspire legions of like-minded groups. The riffs are actually memorable, with insane blastbeat drums and an uncanny sense of timing guiding the songs as they charge through one by one. "Lunatic of God's Creation" may be one of the best death metal songs written in this period, taking all of these elements to their natural extreme and crafting an ugly Satanic epic. "Carnage in the Temple of the Damned" is a speed-happy chunk of blasphemy that borders on grindcore, while "Dead by Dawn" is another gem that survives on the creative riffing and horrible vocals. Benton's vocals are actually one of the main features, as his guttural growl is touched up by production tricks to sound absolutely hideous and tortured as he spews his Satanic nonsense. At the time it seemed quite evil, and the press surrounding him suggested that he was willingly possessed by demons that sang through him. On top of that, he also claimed that since he was the antithesis of Jesus Christ, that he would kill himself at the age of 32 to mimic Christ's death. Heady stuff for a death metal band, but even though the gimmick may have banished them from the cover of Hit Parader, it didn't take away from the effectiveness of the album. They would later go on to make questionable musical progress and strip away much of the brash suggestiveness of their image (for the record, Benton failed to commit suicide when he claimed he would), but before all of that they still managed to craft one truly great album in the death metal genre that will survive long after the gimmicks are gone." - Allmusic Guide
    $8.00
  • "NoSound is an Italian band headed by Giancarlo Erra on vocals, guitars, and keyboards; including: Marco Berni, on keyboards and vocals; Alessandro Luci, on bass, upright bass, and keyboards; Paolo Vigliarolo, on acoustic and electric guitars; and joining them for their fourth album is accomplished drummer and former Porcupine Tree member, Chris Maitland.As a fan of the band it was great to receive this promo copy of the album.Here are my thoughts on 'Afterthoughts'.'In My Fears', opens with the solo electric guitar strumming familiar on many a NoSound album. Only this time it sounds like something far away…approaching through the mist, like a boat on the still ocean, or someone walking on the beach and slowly coming into sight,. The screeching guitar/keyboard effect that whirls around the original lead guitar only adds a soft breeze to the mystery. Giancarlo's first vocals enter the realm of consciousness, "I still feel the glow of this morning light". "I wish I could stay". "Days are so bright". Perfect. Soft, intricate piano, surrounded by waves of guitars and bass, with drums rising like wave crests. Wishin' you were there…huh?'I Miss the Ground' starts with a deeper pitched electric guitar echoing in that familiar way that Giancarlo creates mystery. Then, "I started all over again". And yes, the sound of the band has changed. There are the familiar waves of emotion which follow the guitars and keyboards, only this time more direct and somehow with more power. Erra's vocals are clearer than on past albums. Maitland's touch is different. The clashes and crashes shimmer more brilliantly than before.'Two Monkeys' opens with some beautiful trademark piano, surrounded by soft bass and soaring guitar, drifting off into the distance. Then Erra's vocals unfold the emotional and deep story of the two monkeys. "When I was young I believed there were two monkeys here". "Living in the trees between my arms and the sea". "Someone told me once that was their home". "But their life was sad because they were alone". The piano and keyboards are full of emotion. The writing and singing is…as always full of intense emotion. An even more powerful sounding version than the EP.'The Anger Song' opens with very interesting and unique guitar sounds. Then Maitland takes the stage to add his signature drum sound as the keys and guitars weave mystery around the soundscape. This track has an ever engulfing sound of waves of ocean and emotion which has always been a trademark of the band. It takes me back to "About Butterflies and Children", only this is the other side of happiness and bliss. If it is anger, it is soft anger, until Maitland picks it up a notch and drives louder as the waves of sound crash harder . The waves of guitar and keyboards crest and fall like waves, with Maitland adding the whitecaps to everything brilliantly.'Encounter', opens with wandering piano and drifting guitar chords mixed well with soft tapped drums. Giancarlo's voice enters, "I waited for you at the airport today. To hear what you wanted to say". The sad cello accompanying him brings out the full range of emotions filling the air. The keys surrounding, add mystery to this encounter.'She' is full of brilliant piano and soft tapping drums at the start. The excellent grinding electric guitar which enters with Maitland's drums and keys is sizzling white hot. Erra's vocals bring the emotion, reaching out to touch the subject of the story.'Wherever You Are' is full of more soft emotion and excellent acoustic guitar. Keys surround the mix, but not the waves from before, only soft cello – mixed symphonic keys providing a rich contrast to what has already been heard. Maitland's drums help pick up the pace and pour forth another helping of shimmering and solid sound.'Paralyzed', opens with more soft piano and soft electric guitar. That electric guitar later launches into full blast to pierce the sky and rain down cymbals full of glow. The guitar work on this track is some of the best on the album.'Afterthought', is full of some of the best piano on the album. It opens like the sunrise with soft piano crawling its way to your ears. Erra's vocals are at their peak and the bass, keyboards and drums deliver their best for this closer.This is a dreamy, surf riding wave album full of emotional undercurrents. Maitland's addition to the band has brought more highs and a more powerful drum delivery. The clarity which rains supreme on the mix of this new album points the compass in a new direction. The waves of guitar and keys fill the air and Erra's vocals are clearer and more emotional than on past albums. As always, this band performs as consummate professionals. No afterthoughts or worries on this album. It is another stellar performance. Don't miss this latest chapter in the story.The 2 disc edition of 'Afterthoughts', will include a DVD-A/DVD-V (NTSC 16:9, Region Free) version, with stereo and 5.1 surround high resolution 24bit / 96kHz mixes, plus DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround versions. " - Sea of TranquilityNosound - Wherever You Are (from Afterthoughts) from Kscope on Vimeo.
    $15.00
  • “Wow, what an impressive debut from these Norwegian progsters! I feel the same way about prog metal as I do about power metal: some of it I like a great deal and some of it does absolutely nothing for me. CIRCUS MAXIMUS' "The 1st Chapter" does damn near everything for me.” – Blabbermouth.net Circus Maximus’ first album, “The First Chapter”, took the metal world by storm in 2005. In advance of the release, the band was invited to make their North American debut at ProgPower USA. The response to their performance and the subsequent CD release produced an encore appearance in 2006. Since then the band has spent the past year gigging and further refining their sound. With the release of “Isolate”, they are poised to take their place alongside the upper echelon of progressive metal bands. The band’s musical formula is not easy to accomplish – take jaw dropping musicianship, add a singer like Michael Eriksen with a voice from heaven and toss it together with hooks, anthemic melodies and enough heavy riffing to stick with you for days. Just for good measure, toss in state of the art production courtesy of noted producer Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Jorn, Pretty Maids and TNT). It’s the band’s ability to do this all so well in such a short period of time that has drawn them so much attention. Isolate represents the best of both worlds – it’s progressive enough for any fan of technical minded metal but at the same time it’s purely infectious music. From ballads like “Zero” to the epic length “Mouth Of Madness”, this album will instantly appeal to fans of bands such as Symphony X, Dream Theater, and Kamelot. Music as amazing as this deserves artwork to match. Once again, Mattias Noren has been enlisted to design the packaging.
    $13.00
  • Magnus Karlsson's name might not be that familiar to you but if you are a fan of melodic metal you probably own an album or two he was involved in.  The Swedish guitarist's original band was Last Tribe.  After a number of albums for Frontiers he was the man behind the curtain for the two Allen/Lande albums as well as a bunch of other projects for the label.  Ultimately he became a member of Primal Fear and toured with this.Freefall is his first solo album under his own name.  He plays all the instruments except drums which are handled by Danny Flores of Mind's Eye.  Calling in favors, Karlsson has enlisted a who's who of vocalists from the melodic metal realm: Russell Allen (Symphony X), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Tony Harnell (TNT), Rick Altzi (Masterplan), David Readman (PC69), Mark Boals (Malmsteen), Michael Andersson (Cloudscape), Rikard Bengsston (Last Tribe), and Herman Saming (A.C.T).  That's a lot of good pipes!
    $13.00
  • When Worlds Collide is the latest release from Portuguese prog metal band Forgotten Suns.  When the band first burst onto the scene they were very much in the neoprog camp.  Their sound evolved over time with guitarist/founder Ricardo Falcao taking the band into more metallic territory.  With his chops from hell its no wonder.  This is squarely prog metal in the Dream Theater style.  Vocalist Nio Nunes doesn't go for the stratosphere.  He sticks to the midrange and there even some growls in spots.  Apparently keyboardist Ernesto Rodrigues collaborated on the writing.  The results seems to be the band's heaviest work.  While the keyboard work is more than fine the defining sound of the band is guitarist Falcao.  He's the focal point and really delivers the goods.  Forgotten Suns amps up the tried and true prog metal formula and comes up with something quite memorable.  The album runs 79 minutes and is packed with epic length tracks through out.  By the time the album is over you will be exhausted!  Highly recommended.
    $13.00
  • Dreamworld was the band that rose from the ashes of Yatha Sidhra.  The Fichter brothers - Klaus and Rofl composed and performed all of the music.  It's a melodic blend of symphonic and space rock.  Not too far removed from Eloy.  Great stuff.
    $12.00
  • "Osada Vida, one of the most interesting Polish bands on the prog-metal scene, return with a brand new album. “Particles” is their first release after the line-up change in 2012, when Marek Majewski (ex-Acute Mind) joined the band as their new vocalist. New album includes 9 new tracks plus a brilliant cover of Metallica's track "Master of Puppets". One of the tracks include a guest vocal appearance by Sivy known from the Polish metal band Tuff Enuff.New album was just reviewed by the ProgArchives’ journalist:“The album sees a natural evolution in the band's approach, rather than wholesale changes. The cover art offers an immediate indication of this, being lighter and simpler than previous albums. The concept album approach is set aside in favour of presenting nine strong, individual pieces each intended to stand alone as a complete piece.The opening track, 'Hard-Boiled Wonderland' will be familiar to those who investigated the band's first DVD last year, as it was the only unreleased song included in that gig. The track blends influences such as Yes and King Crimson in an off-beat but rhythmic heavy guitar driven piece. While the pounding riffs are deliciously heavy, the feel is lighter than previous albums. 'Stronger' is the first of the tracks to fully reveal the band's stated ambition for this album of presenting something more accessible while retaining the musical integrity that has served them so well to date. The highlight of the song is some fine guitar and keyboards interplay between Rafał Paluszek and Bartek Bereska.(…)Overall, an album that represents quite a shift for Osada Vida. While excellent musicianship and fine production may be taken as read, the generally more accessible nature of the songs should appeal to a wider fan base while continuing to satisfy those who have followed the band thus far.”Osada Vida is one of the most interesting Polish bands on the prog-rock scene. Their discography includes three demos and three well received official releases - “Three Seats Behind a Triangle” (2006/2007), “The Body Parts Party” (2008), “Uninvited Dreams” (2009). Their albums feature elaborately beautiful music in the vein of Yes, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation and Riverside. In early July, Osada Vida released their first live DVD entitled “Where The Devils Live” featuring the recording of their live appearance at the Wyspianski Theater in Katowice, Poland in Autumn 2011. The band recently debuted in a new improved line-up - they have added a new vocalist Marek Majewski, previously known from the band Acute Mind. Osada Vida is also recognized worldwide - they played at the famous US' ROSfest 2011 and at the beginning of October 2012 they were a part of Israeli ProgStage festival where they performed next to Andromeda, The Flower Kings or Orphaned Land." 
    $14.00
  • "Ashent, an Italian Progressive Metal band, return in 2012 with their third release, Inheritance. This being a milestone for any band, it also sees Ashent returning after a period of change, with changes in the band's lineup. After the 2009 release of Deconstructive, Ashent announced three new members would be filling in: Titta Tani (Goblin,Daemonia, ex-Necrophagia, ex-DGM) on lead vocals, Gilles Boscolo on keyboards and Alessandro Cossu on second guitar. And so, with lineup changes like these, it comes as no surprise that Ashent are redefining themselves a bit. Inheritance finds Ashent taking a very unique stance on Progressive Metal, melding together various styles and sounds to create a somewhat unusual blend. Along with what might be considered the "typical" combination of Progressive Metal instruments with heavy guitars and synths, Ashent mixes in some Mellotron, Hammond, and Saxophone. This gives their sound an almost Neo Prog take on Progressive Metal. And dynamically, Ashent swings between more atmospheric and mellow sections to some louder, chaotic blends. Ashent has a way of using chord progressions where they fill every chord out to the point of almost bursting, adding dissonant tones to the more conventional structures. This is not only achieved with the instrumentation (often combining atmospheric keyboards that are reminiscent of Devin Townsend with some heavy, rhythmic guitars) but also with some very full harmonies in the vocals. Add to this a very dynamic rhythm section, and the music can at times be a little overwhelming. And Ashent deploys many different textures throughout the album, with modern synths, orchestral parts, sequencers, choirs, and even some fusion, making for a very dynamic experience. All this combined also gives them a sound that has a very new, crisp and modern feel to it. This is definitely an album that breaks the mold, and as such will leave some scratching their heads, while others will praise it highly." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $14.00
  • Deluxe digibook edition with one bonus track.  Please note - other versions will be available shortly."Previewing their tenth album "Beyond the Red Mirror" with the previously-released "Twilight of the Gods" EP, German power-symphonic metal maestros BLIND GUARDIAN capitalize on a long break with an encompassing and magical effort. For "Beyond the Red Mirror", the band worked with three different worldwide choirs from Budapest, Prague and Boston, along with two full-scale orchestras bearing 90 members apiece. The results are as larger-than-life as the band intended, fleshing out a sci-fi and fantasy piece bridged to their 1995 album, "Imaginations from the Other Side".As "Twilight of the Gods" (one of only two songs to clock in beneath five minutes) proved to ring like a broad-scoped, QUEEN-esque musical sonnet, the rest of "Beyond the Red Mirror" is simply massive. Beginning and ending with two epics that roll at 9:29 each, this album plays like BLIND GUARDIAN's reach for a masterpiece, and they practically hit it.You couldn't ask for a more breath-stealing intro with the gusting chorus opening the expansive "The Ninth Wave", a song stuffed as much with electronica buzzes and defined guitar lines as there are swarming voices. Hansi Kürsch, one of the best metal vocalists in the business, is nearly secondary to the enthralling choral tides that introduce and conclude the track. This could've been a near-ten-minute EP unto itself, that's how conclusive and meticulous the song is structured.The decorative harpsichord setting off "Prophecies" is a delicious intro for André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen to plow through successions of IRON MAIDEN-derived chords and marching progressions. Why BLIND GUARDIAN gets away with it is due to the incredible vocal outpourings around them. Again, the majestic theater aspect of QUEEN plays into this track as much as IRON MAIDEN and it's the proficiency behind the delivery that makes "Prophecies" sing instrumentally on top of the wondrous voices around it. Equally enchanting is "At the Edge of Time", which keeps a frolicking back beat and spritely orchestral accompaniment behind Frederik Ehmke's gradual stamp. The delicate measures BLIND GUARDIAN puts behind the thrusting march of "At the Edge of Time" are astonishing to behold, no matter how many symphonic metal albums you've been exposed to.The swift "Ashes of Eternity" gusts on the heels of Frederik Ehmke's fluid pounding, the breezing guitars and Hansi Kürsch's vocals, which toughen to full snarls at times, but never fail to exhale with full conviction. The gorgeous backing vocals add to "Ashes of Eternity"'s tireless drafts. Even more vigorous is "The Holy Grail" thereafter, which does HELLOWEEN and GAMMA RAY proud, much less HAMMERFALL and MANOWAR with its hurricane-speed tale of valor. Let the musical echoes of battle always sound this powerful.The 7:56 "The Throne" is a metal opera unto itself while serving the album's overall goal in sweeping the listener from one riveting plane to another, transitioning the twenty years between "Imaginations from the Other Side" and this album. "The Throne" works a little harder to find its spark as the band and orchestral pieces thicken up the longer the piece rolls, but Hansi Kürsch valorously leads the way and put to the stage, this piece should sound even bigger, so long as all of its recorded parts are presented live.What can be safely assumed is that the album's carnival-esque finale, "Grand Parade" will make it to their live forum. Cited by André Olbrich as the best song BLIND GUARDIAN has ever written, there's substance to this claim as it rolls, romps and cascades with all the gala these guys can load up. "Grand Parade" is a cheerful promenade for much of the ride with a thundering chorus ushering it along until a dramatic change in tone arrives with the first guitar solo, altering the course toward a valiant and clamorous bang. A return to the battle front with power metal thrusts and cinematic orchestration ram the song back to its original celebratory cavalcade for a triumphant finale. Indeed, this is the best song BLIND GUARDIAN has conceived. Phenomenal.With no disrespect intended to their contemporaries, BLIND GUARDIAN delivers symphonic metal of the highest art on "Beyond the Red Mirror". How far these guys have come since "Battalions of Fear" is not only remarkable, it's tremendous. As Hansi Kürsch has described the story behind this album, the red mirror is a representative, lone-standing portal to purported salvation and it must be found at all costs. What BLIND GUARDIAN has found with this album is inspirational and it's inexcusable the Grammy committee has long kept a sightless eye toward these virtuosi of metal music." - Blabbermouth
    $19.00
  • "The old cliché “you can’t go forward by moving back” might be true in the sense that without new music we wither and die, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that we need every single album to be a stylistic revolution onto itself, lest we find ourselves with no genre or categories within it left to speak of. The truth is that when it comes to rehashing a format that works, the devil is always in the details, and an approach to crafting newer material that is attentive to nuance is an excellent way to bridge the gap between consistency and novelty. Insofar as Firewind goes, the name of the game is consistency, and the particulars go to the charismatic and virtuosic persona of Gus G and his uncanny ability to turn a few signature riffs into a celebration of neck wrecking goodness that can also be sung along to.“Allegiance” is a new beginning for Gus, as he has parted company with his entire musical past with 3 other highly respected projects, and has completely revamped the lineup of this, his now solitary project (at least until he began hanging with the Ozzman). However, this new start is really a reassertion of what his music had been about since he began putting out label supported material under the Firewind name, a sleek yet simplistic approach to heavy, powerful metal that doesn’t skip up on the former while putting a lot of the latter into every single memorable melody. It is a format where guitars and drums rule the arrangement, where the vocals are raucous and husky (exuding a bit more depth and masculinity than a lot of other bands in this genre), and the keyboards are present yet mostly playing support. In other words, this is the same overall sound that typified the first 2 albums under this moniker.In many respects, this album could be seen as a reminiscence of the catchy mid to late 80s heavy metal that grew out of the NWOBHM, combined with a slight helping of the German love of speed and mayhem here and there. A single listen to mid paced grooving monsters like “Deliverance” and “Where Do We Go From Here?” will reveal a band that definitely knows how to kick forth the spirit of Saxon and Judas Priest through the medium of a thunderous modern production. Simultaneously, the riff happy cruiser “Ready To Strike” takes a few tricks out of the Dio playbook (think the first two albums with Vivian Campbell with all the rapid power chords and guitar screams), while the flashing “Dream Chaser” seeks to escape the speed of sound while ushering a beautiful combination of George Lynch style guitar shredding and Grave Digger oriented riffing.There are, naturally, a couple of areas where the band flirts a little too closely with genre straddling, likely for the purposes of scoring a few radio hits. The particular point where this really becomes blatant is the obvious single cut “Breaking The Silence”, which is an earlier attempt at what was successfully done by Primal Fear when they brought in Simone Simons for a guest slot alongside Ralf Scheepers. Unfortunately, the singer brought in here sounds too much like a goofy R&B singer, albeit with a different accent, and the whole thing gets stylistically muddled. It doesn’t quite hit the low of inviting Christina Aguilera to do a guest slot on a metal album, but it definitely goes in that direction. “The Essence” is also a weak link, though not nearly as much of one, and comes off as extremely forced during those obligatory acoustic sections typical of Gus’ various half ballads.While this is just a little behind the impressive brilliance of Firewind’s previous work, this is definitely a fun and entertaining album that will have its audience singing along the second time through. It is easy music to like, and has very little that can be described as either adventurous or otherwise ambiguous. This is metal at its most predictable, but done in such a way that it isn’t grating nor stale. Vocalist Apollo Papathanasio isn’t quite the gravely bellower that Stephen Fredrick is, but he is probably the closest thing that Gus’ could find, and definitely gets close to recapturing that same massive vocal sound that is needed to match the massive production going on behind it. But as always, the real treats are found in the guitar playing, and everything else is along for the ride, and in this rudimentary approach to metal, that is way it should be." - Metal Archives
    $5.00
  • You dig church organ? How about when Keith hammers on one during "The Three Fates"? Goblin your thing? Have I got a disc for you! Three Monks is an instrumental trio from Italy led by organist/composer Paolo Lazzeri. The title of the album says it all. This is a marriage of classical composition with a progressive rock rhythm section. Lazzeri only plays pipe organ and is accompanied by electric bass and drums. Kind of a twisted dark album that is filled with menace. This one will surely wake up the neighbors.
    $16.00
  • The third and final album of the Blackmore/Dio marriage was a fine one. "Gates Of Babylon" and "Kill The King" and the title track are now timeless classics of hard rock.
    $5.00