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Amaran's Plight: Voice In The Light

First, the facts: Amaran's Plight is the brand new 'supergroup' featured on the ProgRock Records label, and their debut album, the concept piece Voice In The Light is finally out. The band features Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) on guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals, D.C. Cooper (Royal Hunt, Silent Force) on lead vocals, Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard) on drums, and Kurt Barabas (Under the Sun) on bass.

The music: Voice In The Light is an incredible concept album about a man and his journey through life, as he deals with his true love, a near death experience, and all the strange and unsettling events that take place afterwards, forcing him to make some hard decisions about his future. The story was developed and written by John W. Crawford, who also serves as musical director and lyricist on the album. Most of the music and vocal melodies were written by Cooper and Wehrkamp, and as a whole this is pretty melodic and emotional stuff that really hooks you in and forces you to get wrapped up in the whole storyline. Instrumentally speaking, this is classy material all around, with Wehrkamp's stunning electric and acoustic guitar work on display throughout these pieces, as well as his tasty keyboard textures. D'Virgilio and Barabas form a tight rhythm section, both players highly skilled and showing it here, adding the right amount of groove and taste but not overcrowding the mix. What more can you say about the vocals of D.C. Cooper? This guy is a consumate pro, and fans of his years with Royal Hunt and his current band Silent Force know that the singer is not just a progressive metal/hard rock vocalist, but he also can deliver plenty of emotion and passion when needed. His duet with guest singer Trishia O'Keefe on "I Promise You" is gorgeous stuff, and his stirring performance on "Coming of Age" and the epic "Incident at Haldemans Lake" is nothing short of inspiring. While there's plenty of exciting musical outbursts on Voice In The Light, like on the atmospheric instrumental "Consummation Opus", and the CD's other two magnum opuses "Shattered Dreams" (featuring a hot middle section with all players really digging in hard) and "Revelation", both really show the proggy side to the band, but it's not all about chops here. There are some heavy moments as well, like the venemous metal on "Viper", with Cooper really letting it all hang out amidst crunchy riffs from Wehrkamp, and the complex "Turning Point", which sees Barabas and D'Virgilio really working overtime.

The verdict: This is a highly enjoyable concept album from a prog rock supergroup that really lives up to all the hype and expectations. Now let's see if this can blossom into something more than a one-off affair, as I'm sure we'd all love to see Amaran's Plight take this show on the road or perform Voice In The Light at one of the major progressive rock festivals. Now that would be something to look forward to.


Track Listing
01. Room 316
02. Friends Forever
03. Coming of Age
04. Incident at Haldemans Lake
05. Reflections Part I
06. I Promise You
07. Consummation Opus
08. Truth and Tragedy
09. Shattered Dreams
10. Viper
11. Betrayed by Love
12. Turning Point
13. Revelation

Added: March 29th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 8242
Language: english

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Amaran's Plight: Voice In The Light
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-03-29 20:57:10
My Score:

When looking up the definition of prog rock supergroup you might see the words "Amaran's Plight" for if there were such a thing you have definitely found it. Amaran's Plight consists of D.C. Cooper (Silent Force, Royal Hunt), Nick D'Virgilio (Genesis, Spock's Beard), Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) and Kurt Barabas (Under The Sun). That is quite a line-up so you can imagine the expectations were quite high within the prog community to come up with something special and I am happy to report they passed the test with flying colors. This is a fantastic slice of progressive metal with a small helping of AOR mixed in for good measure. I believe that makes this all the more palatable, at least for my taste. As you can probably guess, the musicianship is second to none and that comes as no surprise when we are presented with the resumes of these musicians. To my discerning ear there are really no weak points, from the strong vocals of D.C. Cooper to the guitar and keys provided by Gary Wehrkamp. Of course we cannot forget about Nick D'Virgilio on drums who puts his signature rhythms all over this disc and Kurt Barabas who provides a steady backdrop of bass and even comes to the forefront with the odd run that really shows off his exceptional talents.

I have been listening to this CD for a while now and I find it more addictive each time. If you are wondering what the music sounds like, I would have to say Shadow Gallery is the closest band I could come up with. This should come as no surprise as Wehrkamp produced much of the song-writing. The story (based on the novel by John Crawford) involves a man's journey through life following a near death experience. The concept is an intriguing one and holds the listeners attention. The cd starts with the short instrumental "Room 316" which showcases Wehrkamps pyrotechnics on guitar and leads directly into the poignant "Friends Forever" featuring a heartfelt performance from Cooper and a beautiful piano melody. You will be singing along to this one, I guarantee it. Then again, I could say the same for many of the songs on this cd as the songwriting is superb and there are so many great melodies to be had.

One of my favorites is the mini-epic "Incident at Haldeman's Lake". It is long enough for the musicians to strut their stuff but is still catchy as hell. This one features a dramatic beginning, excellent layered vocals, tasty drumming, and some tasty licks provided by Wehrkamp and Barabas. At times Wehrkamp's guitar takes on a Wall-period Floyd sound. An excellent prog metal tune and probably my favorite on the album. One of the catchiest songs is found in the pure melodic rock of "I Promise You", a guilty pleasure if there ever was one. I have only just touched the surface in describing this disc and will leave the rest for you to discover. In a year that produced many strong musical highlights this was one of my favorites. Highly recommended.

(originally written for www.prog4you.com)

Amaran's Plight: Voice In The Light
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-09-22 07:30:31
My Score:

ProgRock Records' new super group Amaran's Plight consists of some of progressive music's most noteworthy faces: Gary Wehrkamp of Shadow Gallery and DC Cooper of Royal Hunt and Silent Force. Ever since Shadow Gallery fans heard DC Cooper's guest performance on their masterpiece Tyranny, they have been expecting the duo to collaborate in one form or another again -- and Voice in the Light finally brings them together after nearly a decade.

They are joined by a solid rhythm section, Spock's Beard drummer Nick D'Virgillio and US prog rockers Under The Sun's bassist Kurt Barabas. Both of them do a fine job on the CD, but since most songs were written by Gary Wehrkamp with some vocal melody and lyric contributions by DC Cooper, the album predominantly recalls Shadow Gallery with DC's more progressive style of singing. The rhythm parts do chime in on some songs though, such as the beautifully arranged "Incident at Haldeman's Lake", an ambitious three-part suite that begins with a slightly folky synth patch and wonderful acoustic guitar playing by Jim Roberti, one of the many guests on the CD. From cascading guitar voicings to multiple vocal harmonies and a pronounced bass part together with powerful drumming, this mammoth piece is among the album's best songs. DC Cooper's vocals are emotive and the synth-laden passages lend themselves to quite an atmospheric composition.

At almost 80 minutes, it could be argued that the album never really gains much pace, remaining in a comfortable ballad-and-mid-tempo song range, given the over-abundance of the slow acoustic and piano numbers. Actually "Reflections Pt.1" is a great ballad, mostly because it evokes DC Cooper during his Paradox-era Royal Hunt days, while "I Promise You" sees him swapping lead vocals with female vocalist Trishia O'Keefe whose angelic voice brings in extra dimension to the song. There do exist some heavier passages on the CD, but they are always outnumbered by the more melodic vocals and hard rock-based instrumental parts. "Coming of Age", for instance, stands out for its heavy drum attacks and DC's theatrical vocals, but they are balanced out with Gary Wehrkamp's sweet-toned melodic warmth in the guitar and synth arrangements.

On the heavier front, the band make an interesting statement in the form of "Viper", a song which also features a synth solo by label owner Shawn Gordon. The drumming on this song is solid, but not really something we'd expect of Nick D'Virgillio. However, the singing and consonant guitar and bass back-up somewhat render it out-of-place on the album -- it sounds too happy and straightforward compared to the rest of the disc. "Turning Point" is in a similar mould, with heavier guitar runs and big, happy hard rock choruses.

In the album's centre lies the amazing instrumental "Consummation Opus", a very moody and intense cut laden with excellent bass playing and dense synth colouring. The song has a very epic vibe to it, and could be Amaran's Plight's finest work from a songwriting point. Saga's Michael Sadler makes a guest appearance on the final song "Revelation", one of the three ten-plus-minute monsters. There are different kind of vocals on the album with majestic piano sections and heavier soloing. If you expect lots of flashy guitar playing on the CD, then "Shattered Dreams" deserves a listen, particularly for its very fusiony instrumental break that makes up more than half of its thirteen minutes. There are plenty of guitar and synth trade-offs happening here.

This is a concept album based on the novel by John W. Crawford, and thus contains some dialogues, spoken parts, and other background noises, but thankfully they are either in the intros or the outros of the songs and do not break the flow of the compositions.

Unfortunately the packaging is quite misleading. Apart from various spelling mistakes, the booklet lists an unexisting song titled "Reflections Pt.2" which apparently only exists on the Japanese import. Also the track titles on the back of the CD and booklet vary (I own an initial pressing; I heard they've corrected these mistakes on the new ones). I assume the song is actually called "Truth in Tragedy", but it's listed as "Truth and Tragedy" on the back.

There is absolutely nothing new on this album, but it still manages to reach Shadow Gallery's last album Room V at times, a similarity I feel like pointing out due to the resemblance in production. Also, it is certainly great to see DC Cooper moving away from his straightforward band Silent Force to a more Royal Hunt-like style, which works perfectly on this album.

Amaran's Plight: Voice In The Light
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-07-21 00:05:04
My Score:

You never know what to expect from 'supergroups' (remember Asia?) but we expected a lot from Amaran's Plight, and thankfully the final product exceeds expectations.

Amaran's Plight was brought together under the Prog Rock Records label and features Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals, D.C. Cooper (Royal Hunt, Silent Force) on lead vocals, Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard) on drums, and Kurt Barabas (Under the Sun) on bass. Michael Saddler gives a guest appearance on two songs - as he has on previous Prog RockRecords' albums - and the label's 'big-boss' Shawn Gordon lays down a keyboard solo for good measure .But the silent, unheralded member of Amaran's plight is John Crawford who we first met when he released a DVD containing an in-depth interview with Wehrkamp in what was meant to become a series called 'the shoot interviews'. Crawford developed the story for this concept album, wrote the lyrics, helped with the booklet's design, and was the album's musical director and executive producer.

Voice In The Light tells the story of a man who had a near death experience as a teenager during which he receives a message from the 'other side' and these events shape the rest of his turbulent life. It's a long, well-developed story, based on a Crawford novel.

D.C.Cooper has always been one of the industry's better singers, and his performance on Royal Hunt's Paradox remains one of the strongest examples of metal vocals in the past generation. This record benefits from his powerful singing and excellent control, but although he's very good technically, the delivery is also emotion-laden and easily draws you into the story.

Besides the vocals, the most obvious contributions are from Gary Wehrkamp. His rich guitar voicings and fluid fretwork are pleasing and he shifts seamlessly from electric to acoustic and back. And his keyboard work - particularly the elegant piano lines - contribute a sophisticated layer to the music. Wehrkamp also claims much of the music writing credit, so guess what band this music most closely resembles? Although it was interesting to note that Voice In The Light probably outshines the latest Shadow Gallery release. Think of this as symphonic progressive metal - although the 'metal' label is a bit of a stretch, perhaps 'hard-rock' would be a better description. The musicianship and songwriting are particularly strong and each song has richly textured sounds with multi part choruses and anthemic melodies giving it an almost AOR tone in places. There's a rock-operatic effect that again recalls Shadow Gallery's best albums, and gives credence to the story line.

There are occasional spoken voiceovers that advance the narrative. They don't stand the test of multiple replays, but they're brief enough not to detract from the overall quality of the record.

As you might expect, the standout tracks are the three epics "Incident at Haldeman's Lake", "Shattered Dreams" and the neo-classical closer "Revelation". These three tracks comprise half the CD's 78-minute playing time, and their restless structures and constantly developing themes will captivate most metal heads through many spins. Don't expect the most innovative music, though. This is well contained within the proverbial envelope - but it's so bloody well executed that it will find a captive audience in many segments of the progressive metal, the hard-rock, and the heavy metal fanbase.

Put it on the iPod while you're at the gym. It's that kind of music.
 




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