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Suspyre: Suspyre

It's been 4 years since their excellent When Time Fades... CD, but New Jersey's progressive metal titans Suspyre are back with their latest release, simply titled Suspyre. There have been some changes in the Suspyre camp since we've last seen them, and the band is now comprised of Clay Barton (vocals), Sam Bhoot (bass), Andrew Distabile (guitar), Gabriel Marshall (drums), Gregg Rossetti ( guitars, fretless bass, Chapman Stick, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone), and April Sese (keyboards). Fret not, despite some changes, the band has not altered their approach to creating adventurous progressive metal of the highest quality.

Let me just start off by saying that Clay Barton is one of the most underrated vocalists in progressive metal today. This guy just keeps getting better and better, and his mix of high pitched vocals and gruff Russell Allen insprired snarls (alongside the death metal growls from guest singer Rob DeSimone) on "Tranquility & Stress" is truly remarkable, adding to the carefully arranged musical chaos perfectly. Guitarists Distabile & Rossetti drop in some tasty lead lines and melodies on the catchy "The Divided Son", while the textured and quite jazzy "Still Bending the Violet" is a great vehicle for Rossetti and his sax, but also features some wonderful guitar solos. The mix of acoustic pop, jazz, and prog on "Cancún" is quite addicting, and the crunchy "The Cycle" is heavy yet majestic, featuring some challenging unison guitar & keyboard lines.

The last two songs on the album are also the most progressive, those being "The Whispers Never Written" and "The Man Made of Stone". Rossetti adds in some sultry sax amidst the crushing riffs, atmospheric keys, and soaring vocals from Barton on the former, while on "The Man Made of Stone" the intensity is kicked up a notch, as Rossetti & Distabile lay down some impressive riffs, pinch harmonics, and solos in a song that also includes Bhoots' nimble bass grooves and some inventive keyboard textures from Sese. At the forefront though are Barton's wonderfully powerful vocals, and equally important are the backing vocals, which are expertly layered for maximum effect. Just a killer piece to close out the CD.

Honestly, I've had a soft spot for this band since they first arrived on the scene, and they continue to impress in a big way here on Suspyre. Not centent to just take the Dream Theater inspired path that so many other progressive metal acts head towards, Suspyre add plenty of prog, jazz, and pop flavors into their metal brew, giving them one of the most unique styles on the scene. Stunning stuff once again from a band that just keeps getting better.

Track Listing
1. Chaser (4:49)
2. Tranquility & Stress (9:57)
3. The Divided Son (4:57)
4. Still Bending the Violet (6:13)
5. The Fire Dancer (5:11)
6. Cancún (3:55)
7. Shades... (0:47)
8. The Cycle (5:12)
9. The Whispers Never Written (9:15)
10. The Man Made of Stone (12:23)

Added: July 20th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 4622
Language: english

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Suspyre: Suspyre
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-07-20 09:41:30
My Score:

Suspyre is one of those rare progressive metal bands that keep getting better with each album. Their 2008 release When Time Fades... remains a minor classic in progressive music that effortlessly combines a plethora of genres and builds them into a cohesive whole without diluting their core sound.

Four years in the making, the eponymous new album sees the New Jersey band growing and evolving into a more focused unit. Despite some changes in the lineup, mainstay Gregg Rossetti has managed to write (as well as mix, engineer, and produce) another stellar album. The aural totality of his vision still captures progressive metal, jazz-fusion, classical, ambient, pop, and even funk. Rossetti's greatest magic stems from allowing contribution from each member and giving them enough space and time to expose their full talent and character. The funk influence is in no small part due to the inclusion of new drummer Gabriel Marshall who has replaced the great session player Charlie Zeleny (Behold the Arctopus) on the previous disc. Marshall brings a totally new dimension to the Suspyre sound. He is the master of groove: rhythm is key in every song, always uneven, angular, and catchy! A deep rhythmic tension intensifies the compositions, even during the songs' softest and quietest parts.

The bassist on When Time Fades..., Andrew Distabile, has switched to second guitar with the departure of Rich Skibinsky. Distabile proves he is equally adept at the six-string. He plays a dazzling solo on "The Man Made of Stone." This piece also features another solo by Rossetti which is the most emotionally charged guitar solo recorded on a Suspyre disc yet. It is reminiscent of Ron Jarzombek's amazing (and best ever) guest solo on "Rivers Dancing" on the first Gordian Knot album. It proceeds very slowly; every note is allowed to build patiently and it has an incredible tonal depth to it. It never quite resolves due to the extreme density of the arrangement but is still the song's most haunting moment.

I am in the minority that thinks Clay Barton is not a vocal deity, but his performance on this album *is* perfect. Without doubt, he delivers the lyrics with a heightened sense of conviction and his enunciation exudes clarity and power even during the fastest and heaviest instrumentation. What's more, he has a knack for creating intensely catchy choruses much like Russell Allen circa The Odyssey. He employs a wide spectrum of vocal styles, from the barely controlled pain of "Chaser" to the snarling screams on "Still Bending the Violet" to his sinister mood capturing of "The Cycle" or the weird, unexpected 70s Euro-pop harmonies in the middle of "The Fire Dancer." He even dabbles with hook-laden acoustic pop on the curious "Cancun."

The songs are incredibly textured and assemble myriad tonalities into inharmonious relationships. Sometimes you'll hear a progression and wonder how they could make it work within this type of compositional framework. "Tranquility and Stress" is a blend of processed vocal bits that sound sinister and catchy at the same time, with Remedy Lane-like keyboard effects looming over the arrangements. The overall atmosphere of the song is very dark and labyrinthine. The acoustic guitar tone is huge and the mix is spectacular. The instrumental break sounds like something members of Cynic, Aghora, and Pain of Salvation (think 12:5) would play if they wanted to jam on Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds of Fire. A great death growl (by Rob DeSimone) is cleverly pushed back in the mix to widen the scope of the song. The extreme vocals are used sparingly and only on one tune, so don't freak out if you don't like them.

A wide array of instrumentation is used to add extra layers to the songs. The Chapman stick on "The Divided Sun" resolves the thickly harmonized riffs and renders it more powerful while Rossetti also incorporates saxophone and nifty fretless bass into some of the tunes. The band's grasp of dynamics on "The Whispers Never Written" is Tool-like in the intro: listen to the interplay between the guitars, bass, and keyboards, and pay attention to the intricacies of the drumming. The band's affinity for classical music is preserved, as subtle orchestral elements are given the task of underscoring the song's resolution. What at first sounds like an improvised middle part reintegrating themes of one of the previous tracks turns out to be a painstakingly composed interlude informed by a quote from Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King." The vocals here are particularly stunning; Barton delivers them like an actor performs his career-defining moment in cinema. He captures a plethora of moods (think Daniel Gildenlow on Adam & Eve in terms of performance) and stamps the verses with tangible feelings of regret and anguish. The instrumentation is unbelievable. Nifty drum syncopation and staccato guitar riffs are woven through odd patterns which peak with nasty tangles of atonal cacophony before shifting back to the classic Suspyre signature.

So far, this must be the best progressive metal disc I've heard in 2012. I obtained my physical copy directly from the band. You should do the same. Support independent artists.

» Reader Comments:

Suspyre: Suspyre
Posted by Sean on 2013-09-06 09:09:54
My Score:

Great review. Suspyre is such a great band.

{ EDITOR'S NOTE: The "" website seems to have issues. Suspyre's Facebook Page is a more reliable location.

Suspyre: Suspyre
Posted by Metalrob4662 on 2012-04-24 10:26:25
My Score:

Excellent review Peter!
I love this album, nice blend of jazz, Metal and Prog! Hope this band keeps putting out quality material!


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