Illusions

SKU: ARISE059
Label:
Arise Records
Category:
Power Metal
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I dug their first album but this one may even be better! Great melodic power metal with plenty of prog elements (LOVE those keyboards). Nacho Ruiz reminds of a ballsier Andre Matos and Mamen Castano (the band's female singer) backs him adding a fuller sound to the vocals. Both singers have great range. I don't understand why these guys aren't better known. For 5 bucks you are crazy if you pass on this one - it's worth 3 times the price. Highly recommended.

Product Review

Tue, 2010-06-08 09:54
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0
I actually took a chance and bought this on a whim not knowing what to expect. I liked the idea of a band combining a female vocalist with a male vocalist and the male not growling! From that aspect I really like the album. What I dislike the most about the album is the lack of catchy hooks and choruses. The music is crunchy at times and beautiful at times, with a good amount of time changes. In conclusion this will appeal to most people that like keyboard driven, prog-metal, but not so much so to the melodic rock fan.
Tue, 2010-06-08 09:54
Rate: 
0
I cannot believe I bought this CD at a bargain price, cause it has landed on my all-time top-ten list of prog-metal albums. Keyboards are not over the top. Male & female vocals absolutely compliment each other. Heavy riffs, but very melodic vocals. Nothing bores me about this album. This is a must buy.
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Product Review

Tue, 2010-06-08 09:54
Rate: 
0
I actually took a chance and bought this on a whim not knowing what to expect. I liked the idea of a band combining a female vocalist with a male vocalist and the male not growling! From that aspect I really like the album. What I dislike the most about the album is the lack of catchy hooks and choruses. The music is crunchy at times and beautiful at times, with a good amount of time changes. In conclusion this will appeal to most people that like keyboard driven, prog-metal, but not so much so to the melodic rock fan.
Tue, 2010-06-08 09:54
Rate: 
0
I cannot believe I bought this CD at a bargain price, cause it has landed on my all-time top-ten list of prog-metal albums. Keyboards are not over the top. Male & female vocals absolutely compliment each other. Heavy riffs, but very melodic vocals. Nothing bores me about this album. This is a must buy.
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  • Latest from this Greek/German power metal band. Mystic Prophecy are heavier than most in the genre but are surprisingly melodic. The music takes on a thrash feel in spots but the excellent vocals of R.D. Liapakis always steers everything back to the melodic side. I'm a prog guy but even I was really impressed by this. Apparently they are getting more and more popular so I am apparently not alone. This special edition digipak comes with a bonus disc with studio and live tracks.
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  • Armed Cloud is a new Dutch band that straddles the line between progressive metal and symphonic rock.  The vocalist moves in the stratospheric realms from time to time drawing Geddy Lee comparisons.  I'm particularly enjoying the keyboard solos which remind me immediately that I'm listening to Dutch "sympho"."Just by looking at the artwork, I knew this was gonna be a good album. Sometimes, you just know. The cover art reminded me Dream Theater's seminal album Awake with the wide array of details and the odd characters. I think it's charming and represents their genre pretty well as it's intricate and nuanced. Fortunately, the album lived to my expectations and it's one of the best progressive metal record I heard in 2015. Obsidian Desert, the debut album of Armed Cloud manages to be a modern yet interesting and fresh take on classic progressive metal/rock. The quintet has all the ingredients to play this complex form of music, an engaging bass presence, super talented guitarist and keyboardist, a singer who can actually sing very well and a versatile drummer who's not afraid to use some blastbeats.While they're obviously technically skilled and that's proven at numerous occasions by the guitar solos and the way the keyboard interacts with the rest of the instruments, they're very emotional and has this frank desire to write compelling songs instead of flashing their technicality, a concept often plaguing their peers, like the later Dream Theater work to give an obvious example. They have a symphonic flair intertwined with some pop tendencies but it's thoroughly enjoyable and it's not saccharine. I think the ballad “Meltdown” is really beautiful and fits their identity as it remains highly atmospheric.Daan Dekker has a particular voice, powerful and with a lot of range but it's also soft and rich. A track like “My Own Kind” is a good showcase of his abilities. For some reasons, I thought of Ray Alder when I first heard them but I enjoy him more than the Fates Warning frontman who never managed to beat John Arch in the heart of many. The vocal melodies are well written and the addition of some aptly placed back vocals add an epic touch to the songs (see “Pyramid of Charlatans”). In fact the band reminds me of the American legends from Connecticut in their capacity of mixing technicality, songwriting and emotions in one solid package. There's also some influences from progressive alternative rock like Muse, Gazpacho or later days Marillion in the vocal department and considering I'm a big fan of these bands as well, it's a big bonus for me.Augment their formula with obvious nods to the more progressive side of power metal (see Kamelot or even Angra) and you have a very solid mix of influences. Furthermore, compared to many progressive metal acts, their songs are cohesive and on the shorter side except perhaps the eight minute closer “Wasted” and the excellent “In Your Mind”. Sometimes, it feels like they're a more streamlined version of some of Ayreon's stuff. There's no fluff as the album is a little bit under a hour and it doesn't feel this long either. There's no self indulgent long ass instrumental track but there's a serene, symphonic one before the last track and it gives the listener a break and a change of atmosphere.To conclude, If you like your progressive metal with solid solos but still in possession of its soul, Armed Cloud is a band that you should check out." - Metantoine's Magickal Realm
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  • Palace Terrace is a new progressive/neoclassical metal project put together by shredder George Bellas. He enlisted tenor vocalist Jonathan Marshall who has some operatic tendencies. Bellas plays most of the instruments but he has a drummer on board - Sasha Horn. The music has a definite neoclassical/symphonic bent that reminds me of some of the work of Uli Jon Roth and Jonas Hansson. This is a big sounding album with some interesting use of vocal counterpoint. There hasn't been much news in the neoclassical field lately but Lion Music has come up with two interesting ones at the same time - Angel Of Eden and now Palace Terrace.
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  • "Voivod is timeless. That doesn’t mean that the Quebec progressive thrash metal band is frozen in stasis. Rather, it’s a testament to their uncompromising insistence on ever-changing, experimental futurism, with every album existing outside of contemporary style in some alternate universe where guitar pickups are wormholes and drumbeats ripple gravity wells." - Montreal Gazette 
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  • The band's second album for Arista. Personally I always preferred this one ahead of their debut but that's a personal choice (no hate e-mails please). Indispensible prog.
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  • "Empire 21 is a new Swedish act featuring some native heavyweights in the hard rock and heavy metal venue, including CJ Grimmark (Rob Rock, Narnia, Fullforce, et al) on guitar and Tobias Enbert (Darkwater, Harmony) on drums. However, the one to watch in the band maybe Ricard Hulteke, a natural melodic vocalist with smooth voice and good range for rock and metal.Empire 21 sound also fits into that blur between melodic hard rock and heavy metal. The thickness of the riffs and the deep bottom end of the rhythm section may give some cause to a 'modern' rock or metal label. But their sound is hardly harsh or intrusive as current trends go. Instead, melody, harmony, and groove are all active and ambitious across this album, from vocal to guitar arrangements, admidst the hard and heavy wrapper. You'll find this within I Can't, This Is My Story, 100 Nights or Heard It All. Yet, that last song trips you up at the start with it's classical piano intro. Groove and metal heaviness combine any many songs as well. All Is Lost, Would You, and No Matter The Winds of Change have those sharp riffs and rumbling bottom end spun through catchy groove. All the while, Grimmark rips off some feisty solos and Hulteke keeps pace, raising above the heaviness. Althought sometimes, if only briefly, the density of the arrangement can squelch his vocals as within Traveler and Empire 21. Basically, then, Empire 21's sound is an interesting and entertaining one, putting melodic heavy metal in a contemporary context that should appeal both to fans of the both old and new schools. Recommended." - Dangerdog
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  • "Despite what the name might lead you to think, progressive metal is among the most static and boring of all heavy music genres. Half the bands that fall under the moniker exist merely as a vehicle to show off the skills of the players involved, which is fine in small doses, but rarely sustains a creative career. The other half of the bands stick rigidly to the blueprint of one of the fore-bearers of the genre, giving us music that sounds exactly like something we've already heard. Very little of progressive metal is actually interesting, because it is a genre that lacks people dedicated to the art of songwriting. Songs are what makes any band successful, no matter how much sheer musical skill they possess. Dream Theater didn't get to where they are just because they are amazing musicians, they also wrote a slew of great songs and albums. The number of progressive metal bands who have impressed me with their songwriting in recent years is miniscule, but I mention all of this because Ascendia is one of them.As “At The End Of It All” swells into focus with a tribal drum beat and chanted vocals, it's already obvious that this is not going to be prog-by-numbers. The song kicks into gear with a syncopated guitar riff, before the vocals soar over the top of everything, slapping a thick coat of melody atop the sound. There's a quiet section in the middle of the song that feels like a cousin of Killswitch Engage, which is a fresh sound to hear in this kind of music. When it opens back up into the chorus, the song is massive, and it's hard to believe all of that music was contained in five and a half minutes.The songs on the album are more bite-sized than typical progressive metal, but that plays into the band's strengths as songwriters. By keeping the songs lean and tight, they hit harder than if the instrumental sections had been extended by a minute here and there. There is interesting playing going on, but it's all done within the framework of the songs, and never put out front to dominate the spotlight. It's an approach that is smart not just because of how easy it is to get bogged down in instrumental pyrotechnics, but because an album of that sort would never be able to survive the Herculean vocal presence of singer Nick Sakal.With more than a little bit of similarity to the former singer of the aforementioned Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones, Sakal's vocals dominate the album, making you wonder where a voice like that could have come from. His baritone is warm, rich, and not at all what you would expect to hear in a band that isn't playing down-tuned hardcore.But what is most important are the songs, and that's where Ascendia proves themselves as standouts. Whether tackling more modern fare like “Remember Me”, or more traditionally melodic songs like “Moonchild”, there's a phenomenal blend of heavy riffing and soaring melody. I can't tell you how rare it is to hear a progressive metal band that is so in tune with melody, and can write songs that could stand up if they were stripped down to the chord structure and the vocals. We get an example of that with the duet ballad, “The Song That You Deserved”, a largely piano and voice song that is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. Ascendia's ear for songs is excellent, and that is what makes “The Lion And The Jester” such an engaging listen. Song after song, there's a warm and inviting chorus waiting to wrap its arms around you after you've heard the heavy and intricate moments.This year has been off to a ridiculously great start, with at least half a dozen legitimately great records having already come my way. Add “The Lion And The Jester” to that list, because Ascendia is making progressive metal the way it was always supposed to be. Both challenging and gratifying, intense and cathartic, “The Lion And The Jester” is a phenomenal piece of work that reminds me of the very best progressive metal I've ever heard. This is an album you need to hear.Oh, and how awesome is that cover art? That is one album that will look as good as it sounds in a collection." - Bloody Good Horror
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  • Virtuoso keyboardist Vivien Lalu has created a new progressive metal epic featuring an all star cast:Band [A-Z]---Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) - VocalsMike LePond (SymphonyX) - BassSimone Mularoni (DGM) - GuitarsVirgil Donati (PlanetX)- DrumsVivien Lalu (Shadrane) - KeyboardsGuests [A-Z]---Jens Johansson (Stratovarius)Joop Wolters (Shadrane)Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie)Mike Andersson (Cloudscape, Fullforce)Peter Wildoer (Darkane, James LaBrie)Born of Noelle and Michel Lalu, musicians from the ‘70s French progressive act Polene, Vivien Lalu has released a surplus of recordings through an array of different bands and projects since 1997, as the keyboard player for underground black/doom band Time For A Change. At the turn of the millennium Lalu played keys for two underground progressive metal bands from Paris, Sad Warden and then Mind’s Orchard, and in 2002 was hired by Hubi Meisel (ex-Dreamscape vocalist) to compose and record the keys for his solo album EmOcean, the following year doing the same for Meisel’s sophomore album Kailash, both of which were released by Lion Music.It was at this time Vivien Lalu begins recruiting his own associates from major prog and metal bands — some of which he shares time composing music alongside in progressive metal act Shadrane — and forms his own solo project, LALU. The first full-length Oniric Metal was released on Lion Music in 2005 and began an entirely new chapter for this composer and his insatiable need to create mind-expanding, cinematic music.These accomplishments helped Lalu to begin securing score and soundtrack work for film and television; over the last few years he’s written many cues for the orchestral soundtrack for the Warner Bros movie Seuls Two, for the show Science X made in association with Lucasfilm Ltd. Additionally he joined the production team behind Laszlo Jones in order to assist the recordings and production of Banana Nation (Universal Music Group). He’s composed many soundtracks for French television, music and sound effects for Neko Entertainment, worked as a sound designer for Ubisoft Entertainment and much more.After collaborating with Shadow Gallery for a song on their Digital Ghosts album, and working with Canadian drummer Chris Nalbandian for his Paralysis of Analysis solo album — recording all keys and sharing solos with Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento — Vivien finally settled in and began work on the second LALU opus. Handling all composition and songwriting duties, as well as all keyboards on the massive production, Vivien weaved the cloth of the new album with vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta), bassist Mike LePond (SymphonyX), guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM), drummer Virgil Donati (PlanetX), the album’s parts recorded in several countries including the United States (Los Angeles and New York), Germany and Italy, produced by Lalu in his own studio, and mixed at Boumbox Studio in Paris by Yan Memmi (Dio’s Lock Up The Wolves, Marcus Miller’s The Sun Don’t Lie, etc.). Additional contributions from Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Joop Wolters (Shadrane), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) and Peter Wildoer (James LaBrie) were also carefully built into the album, the final product boasting over fifty minutes of exceptional, massive  cinematic, atmospheric metal Lalu has dubbed, Atomic Ark. 
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  • Wow!  This Canadian band sure has a thing for Pink Floyd.  Led by vocalist/songwriter Phil Burton, Innerspace definitely channel Gilmour and Co.  Notice how I phrased it.  Burton's vocals sound very much like David Gilmour and lead guitarist Simon Arsenault has more than a little of that characteristic sound to his playing as well.  Compositionally this is VERY much derived from Floyd.  There are bits that crop up that will remind you of Meddle, DSOTM, Animals, and even as late as The Division Bell.  Where they really stray from the Floyd sound is with keyboardist Paul Aubrey who is much more active a keyboardist than Rick Wright - lots of cool noodly synth soloing.  While its all original compositions this one was like a fun trip down memory lane through the Pink Floyd catalog.  There aren't a lot of bands out there that are so overtly influenced by the British legends.  I can honestly say that Innerspace do it about as well as it can be done.  Highly recommended.
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  • Remastered with 2 bonus tracks."Given the less violent moniker Hell Bent for Leather for U.S. release (as if that makes any sense), Killing Machine is a transitional album between the progressive-minded complexity of Stained Class and the more commercialized stadium rock of British Steel. In terms of image, however, Judas Priest comes into their own here, creating modern heavy metal fashion by donning studded leather outfits that recalled biker subculture (a connection Rob Halford supported by riding a Harley-Davidson on-stage) but -- in one of metal's supreme ironies -- actually came from gay S&M clubs. Now looking as fierce as their music sounded, Priest set about scaling back the ambition of Stained Class, making the songs more concise and immediate, with simpler structures and fewer underlying subtleties. However, the band largely maintains its then-trademark aggression; the simpler songs actually allow them to hike the tempo on the proto-speed metal numbers even more, and there are hints of blues-rock creeping back into the overall sound, complementing the newfound tough-guy swagger in the band's attitude. At the same time, the relative simplicity also provides the first glimpse of the band's more commercial instincts. If these competing impulses don't make for their most cohesive album, it's also true that most of what's here was still pretty peerless for its time. If Stained Class was the death album, Killing Machine is the sex album -- "Delivering the Goods," the title track, "Burnin' Up," and "Evil Fantasies" are all loaded with S&M imagery, while "Running Wild" is a nightlife party anthem, and "Before the Dawn" a morose heartbreak ballad that nonetheless works in context as the downside of all this carnality. "Delivering the Goods" in particular ranks with their best straightforward rockers, while "Hell Bent for Leather" pushes ever farther towards speed metal proper, crystallizing Halford's leather-and-motorcycle obsessions into one of the band's signature statements. The other title track, "Killing Machine," is a midtempo stomper about a contract hitman, and there's yet another brilliantly reinvented cover song, as the band transforms the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac chestnut "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)" into a heavy, sinister groover. Of the more commercial material, the anthemic chorus of "Evening Star" leaves the best impression, while "Rock Forever" is their first explicit ode to heavy metal itself (and there would be many, many more to come). The uneasiest implications for the future come from "Take on the World," a lunkheaded stadium shout-along that gave the band its first British hit single, and is clearly patterned after Queen's "We Will Rock You." Occasional missteps and all, Killing Machine closes the book on Judas Priest's early period, which constitutes some of the most influential heavy metal ever recorded. The flood of NWOBHM talent they'd inspired was about to be unleashed on the record-buying public, and henceforth, Priest was intent on reaping the rewards. They would remain a vital force in their second, more commercial phase (more so than some fans of their late-'70s classics might care to admit), but their work of redefining the genre had largely been completed." - Allmusic Guide
    $8.00
  • Reissue of the 2006 album from this Italian progressive power metal band.  At the time the band was led by US vocalist Steve Braun.  Good singer but a bit of a high pitched wailer.  Comes with the band's original 2003 demo and is spiffed up with new artwork."Italian group Ashent released their debut back in 2006 now that same album Flaws Of Elation is being re-issued with new artwork and extra tracks taken off Ashent's four track demo from 2003. The rare demo tracks were included to highlight how the Italian progressive metal band have changed in style, increasing that technical musical input and with further inclusions giving Ashent's songs a wider scope. So here is your opportunity to get hold of these recordings especially as the original version of Flaws Of Elation has now been out of print for some time. Ashent's debut shows this group possess the capabilities to successfully implement their complex music.The demo tracks aren't as polished but still good enough to give examples of this metal band in its early stages, these same songs would also find their way onto Ashent's debut in their updated versions. Naturally the first obvious difference between the demos and how they would later sound on their debut album is the vast improvement in production. "Awakend's Transitions" now bursts out of your speakers with a cleaner more potent sound creating much more impact. The songs flows better and with more additions like that from their drummer they haven't greatly altered the running time just made some appropriate adjustments. "Fallen Angels" is the next and it's a similar case with the updated production aiding to bring the song to life more though I do quite enjoy both versions. I prefer the later version of "Anaemic Ardency" between the two releases the band did have some line-up changes on drums and guitar plus a new vocalist, and I do find his vocal delivery to be more appealing as is the case with the song "Eden".The remaining six tracks offer further strong and impressively structured progressive metal songs that are quite heavy and melodic with some power metal influences, and also included is an instrumental "A Puzzled Sentiment". Ashent have released another album since Deconstructive which I am not familiar with but after hearing how good this one is I would be very keen to also give it a go." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $11.00
  • After a strange mis-step, Glass Hammer have returned to their progressive ways. There is a new lineup featuring Jon Anderson sound alike Jon Davison on vocals. When I say he sounds like Jon Anderson I mean you would think it was a young Jon Anderson on the mike. Fred and Steve are back in the swing of things - epic length tracks with lots of bombast and hard core keyboard freak outs that are the GH signature sound. New guitarist Alan Shikoh fits right in. To get to the heart of the matter, Glass Hammer have made the best Yes album I've heard in decades. Bob Katz mastered the album and added just the right amount of polish to the typical great sounding production we expect from these guys. Highly recommended.
    $13.00
  • New remastered edition of The Window Of Life has the added bonus of the Falled Dreams And Angels mini-album tacked on to create one 79 minute disc.
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