InfiNight -The Vision

InfiNight_Band

Whether The Vision, the new EP from German heavy metallers InfiNight, is exactly offering anything new or unheard before is debatable but for straight up enjoyment and anthemic irresistibility there are no questions over its offering. The five track release is a strongly satisfying and pleasing slab of power metal fuelled enterprise, one which leaves you licking lips for more whilst it unleashes an expanse of sound which feeds appetites from numerous aspects of melodic metal.

Formed in 2001, the quintet of vocalist Martin Klein, guitarists Dominique Raber and Marco Grewenig (ex-Inner Logic, ex-Arctic Winter), bassist Kai Schmidt (ex-Inner Logic), and drummer Hendrik Reimann (ex-Inner Logic, ex-Godslave) has built and earned a loyal potent fan base and reputation for their sound and shows. Their impressive sharing of stages with the likes of Children of Bodom, Motörhead, Nevermore, Six Feet Under, and the Scorpions across gigs and festivals has enhanced their status certainly in their homeland and within Europe whilst their two albums, Sea of Knowledge (2005) and Like Puppets (2011), has brought great responses and good acclaim upon the band, InfiNight being compared to the likes of Nevermore, Queensrÿche, and Iced Earth. The Vision EP is their next exploit in gaining wide recognition and whether it will be the key to that awareness is up for discussion but it will recruit plenty more eager fans their way quite easily.

Hideaway opens up the EP and instantly seizes attention as guitars carve out a fire of compelling riffs as the drums hold court with Infinight_TheVision_Coverthumping heavy beats. Taking mere moments to hit its stride the song enthralls the senses further with an energetic stroll of predatory riffs ridden by the excellent vocals of Klein. There is a dark almost carnivorous tone to the guitars and certainly the bass which offers constant intimidation even when the melodic flames of Raber and Grewenig ignite air and passions, and it is this depth of sound which grips tightly as the smouldering charms of the excellent song flare up throughout to provide another richly appetising aspect to the song. The slip into a more hard/alternative rock aside with again Klein impresses powerfully is unexpected and thrilling, that moment alone questioning that earlier thought that there is not much new going on. In invention that can be argued for sure. As the rising crescendo of passion and intensity climbs to forge a tremendous climax, the song is simply a virulent contagion which lingers wonderfully.

The following short instrumental The Passage is a raw and abrasive post-apocalyptic like strength of evocative ambience evolving into closing seconds of orchestral colour which make way for A Loss of Love. The song opens with the vocals of Klein crooning over the melodic elegance of keys and warmth. It is an ok start soon elevated by the epically honed expulsion of melodic and symphonic lilted persuasion. Superbly crafted and presented, with guitars and vocals a tempting heat over the eighties fuelled melodic caresses of the keys, the song is a welcoming adventure that does struggle to match the heights of the opener but grasps the listener all the same in a blaze of anthemic power which is hard to turn down or resist participating in.

Transformation is another short instrumental, a piano led emotive piece with towering rhythms and a symphonic breath. To be honest as intriguing and interesting as both instrumentals are, and excellently delivered too, they are too short to make the impact the band probably wanted. They do not hang around long enough to inspire distinct thoughts and visions in the listener which really leaves them as feeling like fillers, something the composing and craft does not deserve. That is soon forgotten though when final song, the title track, explores the ear and passions with another scintillating stomp of riffs, rhythms, and sonic imagination. It makes a powerful conclusion to the release, it and the first track stirring riotous bookends to The Vision.  As the guitars scorch the song with sizzling melodic fire, their touch searing the tantalising spine of incessant rebellious drums from Reimann, it makes for a brilliant finish to an impressively decent and enjoyable release.

The EP does feels like a teaser in many ways to something bigger and whilst listening to The Vision you only hope that is the case, InfiNight having something bigger and longer in the works for the near future. An exciting thought.

https://www.facebook.com/InfiNight

8/10

RingMaster 05/08/2013

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Empyrios – Zion

Photo by Matteo Ermeti

Photo by Matteo Ermeti

Italian progressive metallers Empyrios have returned with a beast of an album in Zion, a release which has something for everyone in sound and eclectic imagination. Following their acclaimed album The Glorious Sickness of 2008, the new slab of concentrated enterprise leaves the previous promise of the band wholly realised with a furnace of accomplished invention. Melding everything from industrial to hard rock, djent to classic rock, with plenty more flavours you care to imagine to its progressive heart, Zion is a hulk of a confrontation which inspires, provokes, and thrills from start to finish.

From Rimini, the band was founded by guitar virtuoso and acclaimed producer Simone Mularoni (DGM), and was soon awash with acclaim through debut album …And The Rest Is Silence in 2007 and The Glorious Sickness a year later. The years since the last release has seen the members of the quartet heavily involved with their other projects, touring and creating music making the time to this new release long for the anticipation of their fans. Guitarist Simone Bertozzi joined the Danish metal machine Mnemic for an extensive tour of Europe and Australia whilst drummer Dario Ciccioni was playing with Oliver Hartmann’s solo project Hartmann. Mularoni himself was leading DGM through a European tour with Symphony X but all the time the members were exchanging and working on elements and ideas for the new album with finally the opportunity to enter the studio for its realisation. The Mularonin produced eleven track behemoth, with vocalist Silvio Mancini completing the quartet, has enslaved the brutal and aggressively dynamic side of the band with its enamouring compelling melodic seduction for a tempest marking the band at a new height for their creativity within a devastating presence. Names like Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore, Symphony X, Fear Factory, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Meshuggah are all thrust upon the band and release as references and the release is an amalgam of those essences distilled into something purely individual to the band.

The Scarlet Records released album emerges from a war infused ambience to immediately trample and chew on the senses with test bella zioncrippling beats and gnarly savage riffs whilst electro industrial winds warm the clinging intensity. Opener Nescience takes mere moments to succumb the ear and senses, its rampaging appetite and corrosive breath a delicious malevolence with the snarling growls of bassist Bertozzi adding extra spite. Into its stride the clean melodic tones of Mancini wraps an emotive embrace around the wounds as the guitars also add their restrained flames but the ravaging heart of the track is never quelled, erupting and consuming at a constant persistence throughout. It is a staggering start which satisfies the violent intent and melodic temptation of all hearts with skill and invention.

The following Domino initially lays a sultry wash upon the ear before the tight rhythmic bombardment and mutually offensive riffs grab their piece of the senses firmly. Like the first, into the heart of its provocation the track is a Meshuggah meets Fear Factory blaze of energy whilst the vocals of Bertozzi explore further rock and progressive textures to bring extra thrills to the insatiable passion of the song. Both Masters and Reverie continue the predatory stance as well as unveiling the heart of each songs melodic sun, the first a riveting expanse of emotive persuasion within a frame of unpredictable and air disrupting rhythms with sabre flashes of guitar alongside whilst the second has flumes of rich melodic passion coursing within the walls of merciless metallic entrapment.  Both songs without finding the key to the rapture sparked by their predecessors leave only prime satisfaction in their tow, their magnetic imagination and its skilfully carved aural narrative irresistible.

The excellent Unplugged next steps forward to leave the senses continually wrong-footed and disorientated with its psyche dance of schizo rhythms and equally deranged djent sculpted riffs, whilst around this the melodic heights of the song makes the smoothest conspirator to its vengeful riot of rapacious invention. Through the likes of the outstanding Renovation with its mesmeric call through barbed carnally bred textures, the vocals of Bertozzi quite stunning, the evocative title track, and the closing fury of Madman, the album gives no respite in its hold on the passions, though every song can be given with that welcoming trait. Admittedly the album is strongest across its first half but constantly the result to its impressive presence is hunger for more.

Zion is an excellent album and a very welcome return from a band in Empyrios which just gets better and better.

https://www.facebook.com/empyrios

8.5/10

RingMaster 24/04/2013

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Chosen – Resolution

Chosen - Final Band Photos January 2013 - Band Photo 2 GRAYSCALE

    Resolution is one of this year’s most generous gifts to extreme and experimental metal, such the quality and stature of the debut album from Irish metallers Chosen. The release is sensational, a primal predator of scintillating imagination and exhaustingly pleasing invention. Having missed out on their earlier EPs, this is an introduction to the site which has left us open mouthed in awe and drooling in passion at the immense violation of extreme excellence.

Cast as for fans of the likes of Nevermore, Gojira, Cynic, and Death, the album shows the band pulls far beyond limitations with their sound and surely anyone with an adventure for stylish and senses stretching hunger in their music will find a feast with Resolution. Formed in 2005 by Paul Shields (vocals/guitars) and David McCann (drums/percussion) as teenagers, Chosen crafted a strong fanbase for their uniquely sculpted and intrusive sound with the metal community in their homeland. Releasing a number of independent and well-received demos as well as acclaimed live shows around Ireland, the band then went through a number of line-ups changes. In 2008 the founding pair relocated to Vancouver for a successful year which included a Canada-wide tour, as well as playing a unique tribute gig to the late Chuck Schuldiner, before returning home in 2009 to record their debut album. On their return the band was reduced to just the pair as members quit which led to the project taking an undefined hiatus.

Shields and McCann eventually came together to move forward by pushing on with the recording of the album and entered the Chosen Resolution Cover Art High Resstudio with producer Alwyn Walker to lay down the frame for the release whilst also looking for other musicians to bring in. Though successful on both counts the band was reduced to just the pair again, so the decision was made to complete the album just by themselves with Walker, Shields taking over vocal and bass duties too. From that journey what has emerged is an album which explores and ignites the senses and imagination for a furnace of blistering and uncompromising invention, a release which is like a sonic puppeteer leading thoughts and passions on a collision of riveting ingenuity, technical mastery, and unbridled confrontation.

The release opens on a jungle of rhythms from McCann, their lure irresistible as the guitar of Shields offers a veil of mystique to the start of Engines Of Belief. It is mere breaths lengths of time before the track ravages the ear with tumultuous rhythms and equally demanding riffs whilst further guitar manipulation skirts the senses and twists their thoughts with increasingly devilish designs. The harsh guttural squalls ride the intensity with gusto and venom whilst the clean vocals support their weight with magnetism as potent as the invention now rife within the fury of a track. It is a staggering start which claws at and gnaws upon the synapses with unexpected brilliance, a colossal fire of enterprise brought through greedy brutality.

Could the release from such a start prevent an antic-climax steeping forward next was the first thought but Defective Prospection and The Narcissism Epidemic both took no time in making the wonderment  moot such their oppressive and inventive confrontations. Certainly the first of the pair does not find the same plateau of brilliance as its predecessor but still delivers an expanse of provocative investigation whilst the second song from its delicious acoustic lined welcome and emotive ambience steps into a maelstrom of ferocious inventive charges and a scintillating merger of melodic beauty and carnal savagery. It is a brilliant track rivalling the starter and again sending creative shock waves across thoughts and sparking thick ardour for it and the album.

The outstanding Diminishment with its mesmeric melodic peace veined by raptorial rhythmic persistence and bestial admonishment of the senses exchanging and entwining their pure hearts, and the equally thrilling Instinct with its Meshuggah spiced rugged textures and rhythmic spite, both sear new heights upon passions and the release whilst Asch’s Paradigm is a song which initially inspires a bedlam bred sinister air before evolving into a tempest of corrosive beauty and seductive severity. The second of the three is a psyche twisted progressive intrigue with imagination to its cryptic fascination and a destructive onslaught vocally and musically unleashed whilst Asch’s Paradigm is a malevolent tight wrap of blood boiling intensity persuaded to share its time with melodic elegance and wanton temptation.

The closing pair of Metaphysical Contradiction and The Departure Lounge seals the branding deal upon the heart with in the case of the first a conflict of balance disrupting sonic dissidence and the closer through an irresistible initial death metal ravishing with djent punctuation moving on to open up arms of melodic acidity and warmth. As it began and admittedly continued through every moment, Resolution ends on the loftiest pinnacles. The album is pure ingenuity and raging inventive passion to inspire the same potency in the reactions and emotions of the listener. Chosen is a tsunami waiting to happen for European metal and their album not only one of the very best this year but of the past decade, and there is no reason to miss out either as the self-released album is available as a Name your own Price download and also in a Deluxe Special Edition or a Collector’s Edition CD.

www.chosenmetal.bandcamp.com

www.chosen.ie

10/10

RingMaster 23/04/2013

 

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Ion Vein: IV v20

 Rich Knight - live guitar

Photo by: Beth Piarowski

Continuing the DR (digital release)concept began by Mortal Music and veteran metallers Ion Vein of taking a snap shot of an album of music and releasing it into the market a “chapter” at a time’, the pair has just released the next instalment in the riveting and impressive IV v2.0 from the band. The new three track instalment in the passage to the full album is just like its predecessor IV v1.0, a vibrant and thrilling slice of progressive and classic laced metal.

The gap between their last album Reigning Memories released in 2003 and the first EP of last year was a long wait for fans and most likely an impatient one for something from the Chicago band which formed in 1995 but the release showed the band was as mighty and inventive as ever, in fact at their strongest to date. Founder and guitarist Chris Lotesto, vocalist Scott Featherstone, bassist Rob Such, and drummer Chuck White, have continued their impressive return with a trio of songs on like its predecessor, the Neil Kernon (Nile, Nevermore, Queensryche, Redemption) produced EP, a release which leaves the majority of emerging melodic metal bands in the shade.

The opening song Seemless accosts the ear with thumping rhythms and delicious senses churning riffs which are all muscle and IV_v.2_2x2_hiressimple but effective enterprise. Settling into a more reserved gait though the track strokes the ear with a rich melodic ambience whilst the pulsating bass of Such prowls and probes the ear magnificently. The vocals of Featherstone are as expressive and powerful as ever, and though he may not be the vocalist with the greatest range in metal he persistently delivers an immense presence and passion to each song which flares up superbly within the equally fiery sounds,  as proven on the first song of the release. The rich guitar explorations of Lotesto dazzle without indulgence to stoke greater fires within the already burning appreciation of the stylish composition and its skilful and inspiring presence whilst that rapacious bass switches on primal needs as eager as the sonic caresses tease out a devouring greed for more.

Fools Parade steps forward next to elevate things to an even greater plateau, the stalking riffs and sonic scorching an acidic feast veined by the tightly controlled yet hungrily barbed rhythms of White. Weaving through corridors of energy and an enveloping furnace of passion and imaginative melodic invention, the track has a loud whisper of the John Bush fronted Anthrax which adds extra richness to the stomping presence of the enjoyably resourceful song. It stands as the best track on the EP with ease though the final piece of engagement in the form of This is Me completes the EP with an expressive relish and melodic metal strength which rivals. The track winds itself around the ear with provocative riffs and further excellence from the sonic inventiveness of Lotesto to invite a feisty response in thought and passion for the creative flames within it and the whole release.

Arguably the concept being employed raises as much impatience as satisfaction when the tracks are as strong and enthralling as they are on both EPs to date and the want to dive into the full length lying at the end of it all overwhelming, both extremes of emotions rife  because of the great sounds and songwriting within the impressive stature of the releases. Bottom line though is that IV v20 is an accomplished piece of metal which just hits the spot from every angle and thrills throughout.

www.ionvein.com

RingMaster 17/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Lykaion : Nothin’ But Death

After an initial uncertainty about the release the debut album from Italian rockers Lykaion emerged as one strongly pleasing and enjoyable slab of blended metal and rock. Nothin’ But Death is a stylish mix of heavy metal, hard rock, thrash, and melodic metal. It arguably does not offer anything new to metal sound wise but has a fully loaded adrenaline driven heart which is irresistible.

As mentioned first contact left an uncertainty which was wholly down to the vocals of Alessandro Sforza. Now he is not a bad vocalist, far from it but suffers from just having one of those singing voices which personally grates. He has an unfortunate effect of making ones senses bristle rather like sucking through a straw, oh that is just me too? He is a very good vocalist we just needed to put any words into context which maybe lead to a differing impression.  Musically the band hit the mark instantly and persistently, the twin guitar creativity of Sforza and Fabio Valentini impressively incisive and imaginative whilst the bass of Alessandro Esposito is an impactful and at times brooding force behind. Add the formidable drumming of Andrea Alberati and you have a quartet which delivers melodic metal to consistently intrigue and excite.

From Roma Lykaion formed in 2003 with the likes of Sentenced, Katatonia, and Nevermore inspiring their full and uncompromising brew of strong sounds. Their debut EP of 2006 The Things I´ve Left and its successor the Swallowed By The Sea EP, drew strong interest and response to confirm an already impressive acclaim for their live shows throughout Italy. With the band recently signing a deal with Bakerteam Records for the release of their first album, one gets a feeling their time to break into a wider audience and recognition is now especially with the strong and overall impressive sounds within Nothin’ But Death.

The title track opens up the album with initial gentle chords and grace before being bowled over by thunderous rhythms and muscular riffs. That melodic touch is persistent though and permeates the powerful surge until it subsides for the more gentile face of the song to take centre stage. The vocals of Sforza come in and the senses are unconcerned and it is not until the song and he shows a greedier intensity that he receives his undeserved resistance. The song though is a great stomp across the ear with carefully crafted guitar play intertwining with heavy weight riffs and energy. It seems briefer than it actually is but that is soon forgotten as the rampaging A Cold Summer Day confronts with again a powerful aural attitude and expertly structured melodies and harmonies. Lykaion have an impressive ability to bring a unique and persistently successful seamless union of tumultuous heavy shadowed sounds and startling melodic beauty, each at ease when hand in hand without any diminishing of their full effect.

The outstanding Free From All Your Fears carries on the great beginning though its successor takes a large step back but that is undoubtedly down to again the unintended personal response to the vocals and the song being a power ballad of sort, he had no chance really.

The heart and best moments of the album comes in a consecutive trio of tracks and they alone ensure the release is worth more than a moment of any ones time. The first is The Dance which has a devoted  fan just from its heavily grizzled bass line intro. The feisty incessant rampant riffs and prowling breath of the song only goes to concrete the instant response and as it expands to its full height the song is a contagious confrontation of stirring riffs, depleting energy, and scorching melodic guitar.

The following Fuck You (I Love Myself) and Passion Kills in their own distinct ways build on and accelerate that enthused reaction. The first is a defiant storm of contemptuous riffing and unapologetic emotion, its middle finger presence brought into clearer context by the wonderful almost inciting melodic touches and imagination. The second of the two is the best track on the release, its relentless dark niggling riffs and greedy purpose completely infectious. The track twists and winds around the senses with the firmest hand and most instinctive heart to ensure nothing but adoration its way, and at one point even the vocals found a friend.

With further songs like the excellent Sick Love and Dimenticherai to ensure nothing but satisfaction, Nothin’ But Death is an excellent release which without venturing into openly new pastures brings one of the strongest and most enjoyable rock albums of the year. Just before we end we just need to say those immortal words to Alessandro Sforza, it’s not you it’s me.

RingMaster 18/06/2012

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7 Horns 7 Eyes: Throes of Absolution

The release of a three track digital EP in the shape of Convalescence last year from Seattle melodic/progressive death metalers 7 Horns 7 Eyes inspired much anticipation for their debut album Throes of Absolution. The trio of songs on the release showed the band had evolved in sound and might into a formidable and thoughtful band in craft, songwriting, and the bringing of those into an aural reality. The long awaited album more than confirms this and fulfils all the enthused eagerness that the EP spawned. Impressive, powerful, and imaginatively constructed it is a mighty and thrilling release, its open and undeniable glories far outweighing any negatives of which there are very few.

Formed in 2006 the band first drew attention with their self released debut EP from fans, media, and other musicians equally, especially from now ex-Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis who makes a guest appearance on Throes of Absolution. The sounds on the album are a long way from the early music from the band, their ability and skills let alone ideas having evolved and matured in the subsequent years. The recording of the album did not run smoothly though with a change in frontman meaning all the album vocals had to be re-recorded by new singer JJ “Shiv” Polachek. Finally though the album is unleashed via Basick Records and it more than builds on and expands the promise and hopes instigated by the earlier release.

     Throes of Absolution is not the easiest of albums to get to grips with, it is a demanding beast with depths that require and deserve full focus and time to explore and be consumed by. There is never a moment where the release goes for the instant and easy connection, the band only intent on making music that has an atmosphere and breath of its own. The album is almost like an immense groan, the release of dark and ominous emotions in the shape of intense and weighty riffs, threatening yet controlled rhythms, and melodies that burn as they light up the senses. The release feels alive in itself not merely from the skilled musicianship of the band and the energy they give to it. It is because of this the album is a challenge that confronts all before it and is all the more impressive for it. Some may have to take it in bits or stages but the rewards for the endeavour are immense.

From the opening beckoning almost peaceful beginning of Divine Amnesty the album wraps itself around the ear before bursting from within with thunderous rhythms, a predatory bass, and guitars that weave sonic colours and passions upon the senses. As the track flexes and reveals its muscular strengths the band brings emotive melodic imagination and manipulations to alternately sooth and further scorch the bruising caused by the intense sounds that surround them. Vocalist Polachek and his delivery are bestial; a black hearted growling creature all on their own that add to the dramatic and deepness of the song.

Each track that follows is wonderfully varied but within the same structure shown on the first, the brutality going hand in hand with the marked and intrusive yet mesmeric melodic invention and presence. Phumis: The Falsehood of Affliction alongside the likes of The Hill Difficulty and Delusions with its perfect mix of warm light and invasive dark, all turn listening into an experience involving passions, thought, and a deliberate submission before the invading extensive sounds. Throughout the band shows their obvious and controlled ability, the guitars of Aaron Smith and Sean Alf making each note and riff an exploration and satisfying experience for the listener whilst the bass of Brandon Smith prowls with a menace and bulky pulse alongside. The drums of Ryan Wood are excellent throughout too, the guy knowing exactly when to pummel and smash through the ear and when to bring vibrant restraint. The production of guitarist Smith has to be commended highly too; he allows each component of the band to have a clarity and depth without interfering with the overall intensity and organic flow of the songs.

Many of the track almost lumber across the senses but as a personal preference it is when the band raise the tempo and energy that they find even greater heights. Cycle of Self first shows this with its eager rampage, feisty riffs and merciless initial march whilst the guitars throw cascades of melodic expression down amongst the debris. The song does slow its stride as it progresses to evolve into a different but still impressive track. Vindicator is the best song on the album and again a raised energy within it takes it above the other fine tracks. The intrusive riffs and sonically sharp guitar creativity its offers is a seamless blend of opposing diversity from the flowing melodic elegance and crushing heavy dark aggression. Mesmeric and at times hypnotic the track is dangerous and irresistible.      

     Throes of Absolution is one of the best albums out so far this year and for those who want more than simply being crushed and barracked without any depth it is a must investigation. It is not perfect with the excellent vocals of Polachek lacking a distinct variation, whether the song is a long crawl or an intense rummage through the senses he stays within his own strong but similar delivery. The only other comment that can be made is that not everyone will or want to take on the challenge of delving deeper to find the rewarding treasures beneath the surface assault but it is doubtful the band really care about that and why should they as7 Horns 7 Eyes has created a great and impressive album for us to revel in it.

Ringmaster 20/04/2012

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Stephan Forte: The Shadows Compendium

© Perrine Perez Fuentes.

To be honest The RR is not one to offer up time for indulgence and music that ultimately is just showing off no matter the skill and undoubted talent on show.  No matter the ability and sound guitar led instrument rock generally seems to end up long winded and over played to levels that has lost our focus long before. Now that is our preference and possible lost but that is how the land and personal taste lies. Just sometimes though to reinforce the ethic of still checking things out before assuming there is a release that steps away from past history to offer something different and intriguing. Such is the case with The Shadows Compendium from French guitar maestro Stéphan Forté. The album still steps into areas that push our limits but it is impossible to deny the stunning and impressive sounds and creativity within its vibrant walls.

Stéphan Forté first drew attention his way with his first instrumental demo Visions of 1997, the neoclassical-oriented sounds soon bringing him to the notice of the guitar community. The following year saw him opening for Yngwie Malmsteen and more sponsors, endorsements and industry attention accumulating. 2001 saw the first Adagio album, a band of musicians he recruited to help realise his compositions. Sanctus Ignis drew further acclaim in his homeland and further afield as did the following darker and orchestral/ choral powered Underworld of 2003. After a further two albums Dominate and Archangels In Black and well received concerts and tours, Forté decided to stretch and push his own musical limits which has become the solo project The Shadows Compendium. Three years in the making the album is an intense, diverse and deep exploration that is musically astonishing.

Forté takes influences ranging from Bartok to Meshuggah, twisting his play and sounds in ways and into shapes no lesser mortal can imagine let alone produce. It really is hard to state how powerful and uniquely distinct the music and ability within the compositions are; only the ear can give true representation. From the opening title track and its dark atmospheric intro the album never ventures into predictable even if at times the expected rears its lengthy head. With tower high riffs and melodies that scorch the ear Forté mesmerises with his string play and caresses with wonderful piano expertise. The piece buzzes around the ear at times constantly insistent and eager before making way for truly inspired work from the composer. An array of guests feature on the album with Jeff Loomis of Nevermore aiding here though for these ears which parts he or the others add elude against the mastery of Forté, and these are talented guys.

The aggressive intense metal fuelled elements connect the deepest with these tastes but there is no doubting there is plenty for rock fans of all preferences on The Shadows Compendium. Tracks like the senses twisting De Praestigiis Daemonu with guest Mattias IA Eklundh of Freak Kitchen and the provocative probing of Duat with Glen Drover of Megadeth leave the ear and beyond happy but exhausted. These are power driven though never are the intricacies and elaborate melodies and ideas left to the side. Spiritual Bliss and Prophecies Of Loki XXI dazzle with a lighter but no less staggering manipulation and control of notes, harmonies and any other musical aspect you can imagine from Forté.

The Shadows Compendium is immense and any musician and especially guitarists will have wet dreams over the album. Personal taste stops it being an album to return to often, at times parts are still overblown and overlong, and dare one say even Forté treads the fine line of indulgence. Then again should it not be that way, the man is a genius whom very few can touch, and it would be crazy to keep such flair and ability restrained. If you want to hear an artist make his guitar squeal and sing with a technique and skill that any woman would pay to feel then Stéphan Forté is your first destination.

RingMaster 21/02/2012

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