When I first put this disc in the player I thought that I had made a mistake and had to check that it was not Dream Theater. While they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, these guys for the most part seem to take about all their cues from the DT camp especially in the vocal delivery of Will Shaw and the keyboard work which is shown on the CD jacket as Keith Elliot who is not listed as a band member. The guitar work is done by the duo of Shawn Baldissero and Lous Vasile and the combo does capture the essence of Petrucci in their sound but still need a bit of practice to match his skills. Not to say they are bad, far from it but there just isn't the technically wizardry we expect from DT.
Now does that make this disc bad? Once again, far from it. These New Jersey lads may worship at the Dream Theater alter but they also give you a tour de force of progressive metal that makes for a great listen even if they cannot be called original by any stretch of the imagination.
After the obligatory intro "Overture" you get into the meat of this disc right away with the song "Fallen God". The talent becomes obvious almost instantly as the melodic but heavy metal of Athem takes hold of you. You have to give lead singer Shaw credit as few can match his range and dynamics. He has the tools to become one of the elite singers in the prog world just as his major influence is.
Twice on the disc the band stretches out into songs of the length that we have become accustom to in this genre. "Enigmatic Reverie" is a 12 minute epic song that takes you on quite a wild ride. This is some powerful progressive metal and should put these guys on the map. The second opus is the 15 minute album closer "Lifting The Veil". Here again they take you through some hills and valleys as the soft melodic start builds to some very heady metal. Similar to their teachers they cross the boundaries into other musical worlds as this one at times has a bit of a jazzy feel and they even make me think of the group Yes at one point but Athem still retain their progressive metal core.
I see very good things for these guys as they are a young, talented group of players who just need to refine their sound a bit. I am sure that we will be comparing bands to Athem instead of comparing them to established acts in the future. This one is well worth checking out.
2. Fallen God
4. Prince Of Lies
5. Wake Up Screaming
6. Enigmatic Reverie
7. Merciless Eyes
8. The Extended Mind
9. Lifting The Veil