Among Different Sights, the sophomore release by Exawatt, fulfills every trademark on the progressive metal checklist: the riffs are heavy, the syncopation is tricky, the keyboards provide a grim atmosphere, and the vocals (both male and female) are quite histrionic. But, save for a few exceptional moments, it doesn't offer any newness to the tried and true formula—for some genre aficionados, that's enough, but anyone looking for a change from the norm won't find it here.
Exawatt formed in Italy in 1991, and they've supported several notable acts on tour, including Pain of Salvation, Labyrinth, and Novembre. Among Different Sights is the follow-up to their 2005 debut, Time Frames, and it features the operatic vocals of their newest member, Cecilia Menghi. Full of symphonic majesty, piercing timbres, and a few delicate ballads, Among Different Sights is a fine record on its own; however, there's nothing here that acts like Dream Theater, Nightwish, and Kamelot haven't already brought to the table.
The album opens with "Red Sin," and the mastering style of Markus Teske (Vanden Plas) is immediately familiar. While definitely less obtrusive and fiery than, say, Symphony X, Exawatt display some impressive musicianship on this track; the guitar and keyboard solos are flashy, the drums are thunderous, the singers harmonize wonderfully, and the bass holds it all together. The majority of Among Different Sights adheres to these techniques, and it works well for the direction their aiming for. However, if they were hoping to bring something fresh to the genre, well, they haven't.
Some noteworthy variations definitely stand out, though. "Exa What ?!" is an eclectic jam featuring affective guitar work and lavish, beautiful keyboard and piano work. In the middle of the track, it drastically changes course by incorporating a bit of electronica into the mix, and Exawatt deserve commendation for spicing things up like this. Elsewhere, "Lucid Dream" is a beautiful ballad with a classical nature, "Awake In The Cosmic Dream" incorporates more odd sounds with a bit of saxophone to increase the diversity, and "Wounds" utilizes gongs and choirs to signal a call to battle. The most surprising moment on Among Different Sights is when Exawatt gives a prog metal treatment to Supertramp's beloved "Breakfast in America" at the end of the album. It's a respectful, sufficiently interesting version.
Among Different Sights isn't a bad album at all—in fact, it's much more enjoyable and dynamic than many contemporaries. However, it's also quite derivative. Save for a few moments, the music is simply cookie-cutter prog metal, and the melodies aren't unique enough to be memorable (for the most part). Still, there is definitely potential for Exawatt to grow, and they're worth keeping an eye on in the future.
1 - Red Sin (6'29)
2 - Tomorrow (5'30)
3 - Garden Of The Dark Lord (6'35)
4 - Exa What ?! (4'59)
5 - Awake In The Cosmic Dream (3'34)
6 - Lucid Dream (6'31)
7 - My Friend (5'45)
8 - Wounds (5'16)
9 - Patience (4'55)
10 - (I. Stand Before I Crawl/II. Breakfast In America) (11'44)