Artist: Creation’s End
Title: “A New Beginning”
Label: Sensory Records
Release Date: 11/9/2010
Genre: Progressive Metal/Power Metal
Although I am hard pressed to use the term “super group” for fear of it no longer having significant impact, there is no question that Creation’s End is a band that features some superbly talented musicians and I anticipate them being one that will quickly rise to the top of the list in the hearts and minds of Progressive and Power Metal fans around the world. The band’s lineup finds singer Mike DeMeo (Masterplan, Riot, The Lizards) belting out some incredible notes over the lead guitar work of Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie) and to up the level of their game they add Rudy Albert (guitars/keyboards), Joey Black (bass) and Dario Rodriguez (drums) to the mix and together offer up some truly thrilling material. I’ve been a fan of DiMeo’s voice since his Riot days and I very much enjoyed his contributions to the Blues-based Rock band The Lizards and of course Masterplan. With this being the case I loved getting to hear him showcase his soaring register in a band where his range seems to be a perfect fit. On the guitar side it was interesting to hear Marco Sfogli showing off his technique with this material and I dare say that he broadened that which many first enjoyed on the James LaBrie album. He’s a monster player and the same seems to apply to all of the other members in the group but something clear hits you as the tunes pummel your senses and that is no one is showing off and going into long, overblown exercises. The group works together as a cohesive unit and doing it in this fashion allows all of them to shine as a single entity. There are quite a few lengthy passages on this eight track release which lets you get a little more out of the bands performance than a mere four or five minute number would allow and since there are so many different paths taken during the songs they deserve being quantified as “progressive”. Some of my favorites included “Forsaken”, “World Holocaust” and “Dissociate” along with the epic closer and band name “Creation’s End”. In my humble opinion the vocals of DiMeo have never been better and while it was a shame to see him move on from Masterplan not too long ago, he is now working with something that is also bringing a lot to the table and really lets him shine.
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Artist: Spheric Universe Experience
Label: Sensory Records
Release Date: 5/19/2009
Genre: Progressive Metal
Thanks to the forward moving efforts of the mighty Dream Theater the world’s Progressive Metal listeners are able to enjoy rising star after rising star based on their accomplishments. Proof that the genre’s realm is only getting more interesting as time marches on comes the band Spheric Universe Experiment who hail from France and have delivered an incredibly tasty album with “Unreal” courtesy of Sensory Records. While this is the bands third release I had to admit that their material had escaped me until this time but if I am reading the critiques of the recording properly it seems that I have jumped on board at the best possible time. It’s safe to say that the band will appeal to you based on its super high melodic nature and big sounding choruses. We see this coming into play with my very favorite track on the recording “3rd Type” that found me playing air drums, guitar and singing along quite loudly much to my neighbors dismay I am sure. “Down Memory Lane” is another winner and an earlier track that showcases the bands abilities in the Melodic Metal realm. The showcase some deft technical skills during opener “White Willow” and some serious groove crushing with “Lost Ghost” that offers drama and mood that proves to be very effective.
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Artist: Wuthering Heights
Title: “The Shadow Cabinet”
Label: Sensory Records
Release Date: 1/17/2007
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal
If you’re longing for some speedy drumming, lightning guitar riffing and vocals that are as resounding as a call to battle then Denmark’s own Wuthering Heights are just what the doctor ordered to cure your ills. Their fourth album “The Shadow Cabinet” wastes little time in knocking the doors down in proper Power Metal fashion but right off the bat it’s interesting to hear how the band uses many elements more commonly found in that of Folk Metal. The other standout point is that lead singer Nils Patrik Johansson sounds very much like the legendary Ronnie James Dio and offers the listener some sense of familiarity even if they have never heard anything by the band before. With all of these factors working together the Danes are able to execute some truly epic tunes that are very difficult to remain standing still during. They also decided to change their pattern with this album as instead of connecting the releases as they had during their first three recordings this one would be comprised of songs that stood proudly on their own. During a number of them I felt twinges of old Blind Guardian coming into play and when you listen to tunes like “Faith” and “Seize The Night” I am sure that many of you would agree. “Envy” has a strong Celtic feel to it at point and I always love the way that sound comes across in heavy music but the track also switches gears at several other instances which make it a little difficult to label as one particular genre focused tune.
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