Here is a band formed of former members of a few solid bands. Takara keyboardist Eric Ragno joined Equinox guitarist Ray Mantor and bassist Jim Turba, eventually finding their vocalist Dan Reed and enlisting the services of great drummer Gregg Bissonette of DLR, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani fame. Bissonette only contributes to the album as a guest though, but he does play all the drums on this record.
In the Eye of Time is a great debut from independent band Vox Tempus. I first heard about them when they appeared at the ProgPower USA opening slot and garnered many positive reviews. While the band calls their music Progressive Metal, I would more classify it as melodic metal with some interesting prog touches. Throughout the whole album, melody is not sacrificed even once, be it for heaviness or pyrotechnics. This band writes their songs with control, definition and purpose. Not a single excessive riff to be found here, even though each musician is definitely competent when it comes to their instruments. Guitarist Ray Mantor who wrote most of the music also mixed and produced this record and the first thing that stands out here is the excellent production. There's clarity and depth in the mix with a very warm sound, especially in keyboardist Eric Ragno's playing. Ragno plays tasteful keyboard licks and textures and his sound oozes warmth throughout.
Vocalist Dan Reed is often compared to Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung, but I also hear a good dose of Dwight Hill (Divine Reglale) in his phrasing. He has a very powerful voice which he exhibits in some high screams without sounding the least bit screechy. Jim Turba on bass is great in some songs, such as the opening track "For Every Life" written in memory of the late Great White guitarist, Ty Longley, who tragically died in the Rhode Island nightclub a few years ago. The staccato bass on "Revelations" is also great, but on the whole, Turba's bass playing seems to take the role of rhythm guitars comsummating Mantor's lead guitar work. I think the best bass is on the second instrumental, "Voice of Time", because it functions separately without detracting from the tune.
I feel Eric Ragno's inclusion on this record is a very fundamental step since it's his playing that glues every instrument together without dominating them. His layered playing on "Revelations" and duel with the fantastic guitar solo (no showing off here -- it's a solo that will send shivers down your spine!) will leave you shuddering in awe. Everyone mentions Dream Theater as a reference point; I love DT with a passion, but I don't really see the comparisons. This is more like Divine Regale, Ice Age, Styx and Queensryche's "Eyes of a Stranger" in the vocal melodies of "What About". Melody is at the forefront and there is something for everyone here. Melodic metal fans are going to be blown away by "For Every Life", if not the entire disc, prog metallers will rejoice in the 14-minute epic, "Love, Lies, and Treason" or the intricate instrumentals, "Beginnings" and "Voice of Time" (great drum solo by Gregg Bissonette in the latter). There's even something for fans of AOR here; just give a listen to the piano-driven ballads, "Broken" or "Steal the Moment". The CD, though an independent release, has a nice cover art that matches the dark elements of the music, contains a booklet with band pictures, lyrics and songcredits. Recommended to everyone who likes melodic, tasteful playing with a great singer.
1. For Every Life
6. What About
7. Voice of Time
8. Love, Lies, and Treason
9. Steal the Moment