Comma's Elusive Dreams bears a historical significance in the Turkish progressive metal scene in that it is the very first album to feature a heavily Dream Theater-inspired style. Considering progressive music has never had a huge following in Turkey, Elusive Dreams was met with plenty of critical acclaim by die-hard prog fans, despite its obvious shortcomings in certain aspects.
The five-piece band mostly expands on the compositional ideas of keyboardist Baris Dokuzer, whose piano-like keyboard sound starts off pretty much every track, usually boasting a slowly unfolding melody over which syncopated drums and guitar riffs are placed. Dokuzer also lays down well composed synth solos on most of the tunes, but the length of the soloing is usually kept to a minimum in order to maintain the flow of the compositions.
On "Clown", for instance, the dreamy synth tone in the first half is capped by semi-sung vocal parts and textural guitar harmonies. Baris Hacibasioglu largely utilises a moody touch rather than drawn-out instrumental passages. Also, his playing is more riff-based, as illustrated on this tune. However, one can sense some discreet blues connotations during the solo which blankets vocalist Ufuk Ozkurt's manipulated vocal line. Ozkurt finalises the piece delivering a somewhat folky melody though, which is rather interesting given the overall vocalization on the album.
The songs most proceed in a midtempo range, despite the occasional heavy riffery heard on songs like "Never Betray", complete with neoclassical guitar soloing; and "Key of Virtue", which is dominated by a stronger vocal presence and a heavy keyboard and bass arrangement. Ozkurt tries a relatively more aggressive vocal style here, but it is questionable if he is capable of hitting the high notes appropriately. The high-pitched screaming on the former doesn't suit his otherwise midrange tone very well either.
Tracks like "Testimony Within", "Elusive Dream of Life", and "Mask of Silence" bear a striking resemblance in the way they were structured. They all begin with a solo piano, bringing forth melodic vocals and faster-paced instrumentation. The brief keyboard break on "Testimony Within" is beautifully punctuated by a bass and drum accompaniment while Hacibasioglu's electric solo on "Elusive Dream of Life" is charged with emotional intensity. On the final track, drummer Emre Gunaydin contributes solid fills, especially during the comparatively longer instrumental section which recalls 90's Italian prog metal a la Empty Tremor (think their debut album) and Khali.
Of the two instrumental tracks, "Lost Tears" is a purely acoustic-based number clocking in at a little less than a minute while "Solid Trance" sees them performing a truly well composed number, weaving busy rhythms into a technically impressive workout. Dokuzer perpetuates a melodious arch in a tightly controlled guitar and bass environment which has me wondering as to why they didn't include more tunes in this vein.
Though mixed by noted Turkish producer Iskender Paydas, the recording quality of the album is less than stellar, mostly lacking in a strong guitar force. Much to my dismay, the bass isn't quite audible either, but this seems to stem moreso from the low-budget recording than the mixing job handled by Paydas. On their second album, the production quality increased noticeably.
Elusive Dreams is recommended to fans of progressive metal who enjoy obscure bands that do not claim to reinvent the wheel. Although I'm in the minority who think that Free As God, their second album, is more daring compositionally, be sure to seek it out if possible.
- Never Betray
- Lost Tears
- Cradle of My Dreams
- Testimony Within
- Key of Virtue
- Elusive Dream of Life
- Solid Trance
- Mask of Silence