Artension is a Progressive Metal fans dream for they truly move above the typical expectations of the genre. Yes there are many groups that perform Prog-Metal but instead of established formulas I found this group leaning a little more towards the Progressive heavies of old and bringing their influencial sounds into the 21st Century. As soon as the album begins you are kicked in the teeth by the driving beat of "Dark Before The Dawn" which not only possesses a throttling double bass drum run but is led by some heavy duty keyboards. The Neo-Classical Metal is delivered by members Vitalij Kuprij (keyboards), Roger Staffelbach (guitar), John West (vocals), Mike Terrana (drums) and Steve DiGiorgio (bass) and going over their individual accomplishments shows why this album sounds as good as it does. As a fan of this kind of Metal, I was amazed to see the keyboard work introduced by Kuprij for not since Derek Sherinian had I heard such a perfect use of the instrument in heavy music. "Federation" is a great example of this delivery and I think as a result this is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Singer John West also shines across the record for he is in possession of the pipes of Hard Rock greats as well as Traditional or Old-School level bands you loved back in the day. His very melodic vocal style covers the record and I think I preferred him with Artension than the music he recorded with Rock Feinstein. Whenever you have Mike Terrana on an album you can count on that area to be well addressed for Terrana is a Power Metal drummers, Power Metal drummer. He reminds me a lot of Bobby Jarzombek at times, although I feel he gets a little more technical during his playing than we see Bobby do. Staffelbach shows that his guitar work is nothing to dismiss as well and with "Stand And Fight" you see he is a shredder of the highest honor. The wild piano display on "I Really, Really Don't Care" will bring back memories of Keith Emerson doing similar things and it's just another sign of how creative Hard Rock and Metal can become if you open up your mind to it. The band slows you down to enjoy some Beethoven after the skull pummeling you received on the earlier technical displays. What a nice way to close a recording than with the work of genius.
There is really a lot of great music on this album and for their 7th recording the group has shown that no steam has been let out of the engine but is instead continuing to build up to levels ready to explode. Fans of Gamma Ray and other powerhouse Melodic Metal acts would be smart to look into them or at least sample some tracks somehow.
- Dark Before The Dawn
- Day Of Judgement
- Tree Of Knowledge
- Prelude (Instrumental)
- Future World
- Close To The Sun
- Take Me In Your Arms
- Stand & Fight
- I Really, Really Don't Care (instrumental)
- Moonlight Sonata – 1st Movement