According to a lot of people, Queensr˙che seem to have completely abandoned their progressive, yet quite accessible, brand of heavy metal which swept the feet away from under so many people in the later 80s and early 90s. If that is really the case, then it may be time for a new band to step onto the scene and take over from Queensr˙che. And the Floridan metal band Artizan are definitely one of the strongest contenders for this spot.
Released in late April this year, their debut concept album Curse of the Artizan definitely draws on traditional heavy metal and melodic hard rock with its use of galloping guitars, haunting guitar harmonies, catchy choruses and crystal clear vocals. All tunes on the album are readily accessible to the listener, and there is potential for a lot of commercial success. But, there are plenty of inbuilt progressive elements (which are often cleverly disguised) such as rhythmically tricky bridges, odd time signatures every now and then, long acoustic intros, at times unconventional song structures, changes of tempo and drive, and use of keyboards as well as other details - the epic title track even has a sort of chamber music intermezzo.
In terms of performance, Artizan show us that they are obviously very talented musicians and songwriters. The rhythm section is rock solid and, and things never get too technical for everybody to follow. The same applies to the rhythm guitar, while the lead guitars deliver catchy and technically impressive good old fashioned heavy metal solos. And vocalist Tom Braden's vocals are characterized by total clarity (you can hear every word he is singing), and he certainly is a main factor in the catchiness of many of the tunes on the album. The production is professional and pristine, without being polished; the bass is perhaps not as prominent as it could be, but it does provide a really fat bottom (no pun intended) that keeps everything together.
If you like mildly progressive, massively melodic, heavy metal along the lines of Iron Maiden, early Fates Warning and early Queensr˙che, Curse of the Artizan should be right up your alley, and fans of Judas Priest and other traditional metal acts may also find the sound on this album appealing, as may fans of melodic hard rock and power metal. Artizan may well be the future kings of melodic, mildly progressive heavy metal if they get the support they deserve.
1. Trade the World
3. The Man in Black
5. Fading Story
6. Game within a Game
8. Curse of the Artizan