Neo-classical metal keyboard ace Vitalij Kuprij has a brand new instrumental CD, titled Forward and Beyond, containing eight jaw dropping numbers, plus 2 solo Kuprij bonus tracks if you get the European digi-pack version. The current Artension keyboard wizard, and former Ring of Fire member, brought along a host of virtuoso guitar shredders for this outing, so if you dig aggressive, classically inspired instrumental metal, this release will be right up your alley.
Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo is on board for the complex "Piano Overture", adding his impeccable technique alongside Kuprij's amazing synth and piano lines. The two together create a huge wall of sound, much like a metal symphony, with Kuprij and his bank of Korg synthesizers trading blazing solos with Romeo's thick and chunky lines. The aggressive title track features some wicked playing from George Bellas, while "Time Will Tell" is a more symphonic and melodic affair, with Michael Harris adding the guitar histrionics. Guitarist Jeff Kollman strays from his normal hard rock/fusion material on the classically themed "Variations in D Minor", but succeeds mightily, throwing in some bluesy licks as well as burning, neo-classical shredding. Tasty arpeggios from Javier Leal battle Kuprij and his spacey textures on "Far From Home", while Harris returns for round two on the bombastic prog-metal of "Solar Impact." Here, Harris and Kuprij trade amazing and complex lead lines that will have you shaking your head in awe. More balls-to-the-wall prog-metal can be heard on "Message of Hope", where fellow Artension mate Roger Staffenbach joins forces with guitarists Borislav Mitic and Francesco Fareri, for an all-out shred fest of the highest degree.
The only real time you can relax and take a breath on Forward and Beyond is on the three solo Kuprij numbers "Idol Tribute", "Illusions", and "Phantom Fluries", where the keyboard maestro goes for a more introspective and majestic flair, while still showcasing his serious classical chops. While there is a fair amount of what some people will term "wankery" going on here, there is no denying the talent of Vitalij Kuprij and the guitarists that he has amassed for this recording. For an intense instrumental mix of classical, metal, and fusion, it doesn't get much better than this.
1) Forward and Beyond (5:40)
2) Piano Overture (5:37)
3) Time Will Tell (6:50)
4) Variations in D Minor (5:02)
5) Far From Home (6:32)
6) Phantom Flurries-Europe Bonus (1:06)
7) Solar Impact (5:02)
8) Illusion (2:57)
9) Message of Hope (5:54)
10) Idol Tribute-Europe Bonus (6:47)