Section A is Danish guitar virtuoso Torben Enevoldsen's brainchild. He put this project together when he decided to take a break from releasing instrumental solo albums. I have never heard of Enevoldsen before; my main interest in Section A came from a review where I read that former [Beyond] Twilight vocalist Anders Engberg was the singer and the album was also going to feature two members from notable German prog metallers Vanden Plas. Gunter Werno is a great keyboard player and Andreas Lill is an awesome drummer.
Engberg and the Vanden Plas guys aren't the only musicians on this project. Well known keyboardist Derek Sherinian from Alice Cooper, Dream Theater, Planet X, and Yngwie Malmsteen also appears on the CD providing some beautiful keyboard textures. There is, however, no bass player. Torben Enevoldsen, besides playing guitars and some keys, also lays down the bass. I think this project could use an independent bassist though, since the bass work is hardly audible on the entire CD. Enevoldsen is no doubt a great guitarist, he plays great guitar solos, uses a lot of sweep and alternate picking, but I would much rather prefer a bass player to provide intricate rhythms. Also while drummer Andreas Lill is an absolutely excellent drummer (just check out his work on Vanden Plas' Beyond Daylight), his drumming is mixed a bit too low, much to my dismay. What you hear on most of the CD is 1) Enevoldsen's guitar playing: soloing and riffing, 2) Andy Engberg's amazing vocals, though he too seems to have restrained himself a bit. I know very well that he has a great range and can hit the high notes quite easily. It's a shame we don't get to hear much of it, and 3) the keyboard textures. The rhythm section seems to unfortunately have been pushed behind quite a bit. Without a bassist to complement the flow of the music and Lill's low mix, the album doesn't go unscratched. It overall sounds like another solo offering of Enevoldsen with excellent musicians barely backing him up.
Also when you have two amazing keyboard players, you could well make use of their incredible technique. It's just on the opening title song "The Seventh Sign" where "the band" shines perfectly as a unit. When I first heard this song I was pleasantly surprised and thought this could be one of the best prog discs to come out in quite some time. Unfortunately they seem to lose their pace and tempo after track two and instead of experimenting with different styles, they prefer to stay within the same song structures stylistically. Enevoldsen plays his song solos using lots of sweeping and alternate picking and exhibiting his impressive vibrato. His guitar tone doesn't change much through the entire album. Vocalist Engberg sounds amazing on the title track, his killer scream right in the beginning is as impressive as always. However he doesn't sing this way much after the first two songs. Most of the tracks are mid-tempo save the guitar solos, so they don't really call for his high singing much either. I would prefer to hear his really proggy high-ranged singing more on this 57 minute album. Since this is the guitarist's project, his playing and performance are central to the songwriting. Maybe he wanted to be a step ahead of the rest of the musicians. At least this is my understanding. It would be hard to keep up with a godly singer, two amazing keyboardists and a great drummer.
Anders and his friend Welen have written the lyrics, while Enevoldsen wrote the compositions. I am quite pleased with the lyrics on this CD. It seems like Anders had some cerebral statements to make. None of the lyrics on the album are similar to what you hear on most prog metal albums nowadays. For example the second song "Riot" deals with the corruption in politics, how some politicians control the media for their own good, how they harm democracy, etc. Musically the title track is the most progressive and open song of the album. It gives each member a certain amount of space to exhibit their talents. Opening with a well-orchestrated Latin intro, Engberg enters the song with one of his well known screams and is followed by the guitars. The keys enter adding a great atmosphere to the track, before the vocals start off. I really like the guitar and keyboard solo in the middle, which sounds like Sherinian to me.
"Pray for Rain" is the first ballad-like song on the CD and the album from this point on loses its tempo never to pick up again. Engberg decidedly remains within a certain range, and most of the songs evolve around Enevoldsen's somewhat neo-classical guitar playing. Almost all the songs on this album have long fade out guitar solos performed by Torben. The fourth song "Nightmare" somehow reminds me of the victim in Evergrey's concept album In Search of Truth. It's about an individual who is trying to maintain his existence in society despite all the negativites, though musically it's a completely different entity. "Tomorrow" is the longest on the disc, almost 10 minutes in length, and it kicks off with a beautiful piano intro (Gunter Werno?) and builds up slowly where it gets to the point of some more guitar and keyboard solo trade-offs.
The rest of the album pretty much continues in the same vein, never branching out too far. So, this is a very easy album to listen to in the way that once you get the gist of Enevoldsen's musical approach you know what you can expect from him. I do like it, but feel it could have been better, especially with all these great musicians in the fold. Judging by the first two songs, I also think they could have created better compositions as opposed to writing similar songs stylistically. Fans of Dream Theater's earlier work and Symphony X might like it, though this album is more straightforward than those bands' works. Magnitude 9 is another band that comes to mind.
Originally released in 2003, this album is being reissued with a bonus track, the instrumental piece "F.Y.I."
- The Seventh Sign
- Pray for Rain
- The Man in the Mirror
- Killing Fields
- Into the Fire