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Book Of Reflections: Book Of Reflections

Book Of Reflections is the Lion Music's latest all-star project. Considering that label has a reputation for highly skilled musicians, this CD at least promises something interesting from a musicianship wise. What I have noticed with many of these all-star projects, that most seem to fall in the trap of being just that: a great deal of musicianship over minimal songwriting. What it usually turns out to be is nothing but a wank fest, where listeners are listening for the next great solo or the next impossible note the vocalist can hit. While certainly a marvel to the ears for the first listen, the self-indulgence tends to get wearisome after several listens.

After listening to this release, this thankfully isn't the case. Lars Eric Mattsson who wrote the songs for this album (with some lyrics from Conny Weldon) see to it these excellent musicians have some excellent songs to play over. Superior musicianship and strong songwriting make an excellent combination.

Starting with the musicians on this album, the guitars are handled by Rusty Cooley and Mattsson himself. Their sparring partner on the keyboards is none other than virtuoso Vitalij Kuprij (with Mattsson handling some of the keyboards as well). In fact Mattsson even handles the basses on the album. Combine all of this with the powerhouse drumming of Eddie Sledgehammer, and you have a group of musicians who can surely pack an album full of instrumental fireworks! This they do very effectively all over the album. Not only do they sound like some of the most dazzling runs ever on this label, I would go as far to say this album being Mattsson's greatest work!

No, I haven't forgotten the vocalists here. There are 4 very impressive ones on this outing with Winterlong's Mikeal Holm, the EmOcean's very own Hubi Meisel, Condition Red's Torgny Stjärnfelt, and Andy Engberg (Section A/ex Lion's Share). Meisel steals the show however in the ballad "Let It Go", where is voice is nothing less than fantastic! The song is very sad, where an acoustic guitar strums against cellos in the background.

Aside from this, the album has a very exuberant feel. I see the term "Prog Power" used these days, and this album is an excellent example of what this means. This is symphonic power metal, with heavy progressive overtones. From the fast and furious with songs like "Guardians Of Time", the dizzying keyboard/guitar assault in "Only On Truth", the bluesiness of "Going Through The Motions", and the building tension of "Book Of Illusion". The album covers a lot of bases, but remains very cohesive. There are very strong melodies all over the album, and this combined with sharp songwriting and dazzling musicianship make Book Of Reflections a very worthwhile purchase. Most definitely recommended for lovers of progressive/neoclassical/symphonic/power metal!

Track Listings:

1. Guardian of Time
2. Child of the Rainbow
3. Tearing Down
4. Only One Truth
5. Phoenix
6. Going Through The Motions
7. Slippin' Away
8. You're Not Alone
9. Book of Illusions
10. Let it Go
11. Blood From a Stone (European exclusive bonus track)

Added: November 13th 2004
Reviewer: Dean Pierce
Score:
Related Link: Lion Music
Hits: 2140
Language: english

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Book Of Reflections: Book Of Reflections
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-11-12 22:54:51
My Score:

Informed metal-heads know that when you see the names Lars Eric Mattsson or Vitalij Kuprij, you stand up and take note. And Book Of Reflections is a Mattsson project, with significant input from Kuprij. This CD features four lead vocalists and two extra backup singers, two keyboardists, two guitarists … see below for the full list of credits and the bands from which those artists were borrowed. It's an all-star project and as you'd expect, the standard of musicianship is nothing short of stellar.

For all that musicianship, there is a lot of hard, linear, unimaginative balls-to-the-wall, unapologetic metal with straightforward songwriting. These songs comprise a driving, head-banging double-bass dual-guitar accompaniment to hard-edged, formulaic but well delivered vocals. That isn't necessarily a criticism. Much of this album is simply very well played metal for the metal-head, and it achieves that goal admirably. It is generally up-beat with several two- and three-part choruses played over excellent guitar and keyboards, which puts it in the realm of power-metal, albeit heavier than most in that genre.

But the capabilities of these musicians really shines in the excellent neo-classical passages, and the best of these is the all-instrumental title track "Book Of Reflections". Listen to that piece again and again and the biggest criticism is that it lasts only 3-and-a-bit minutes. It would have been fun to see how Mattsson would have developed it had he allowed it to run on for twice that time. Another standout song is "Let it Go", sung by Hubi Meisel. This is the obligatory power ballad, and it's wonderfully done. Acoustic guitar over cello and Mellotron-like choral samples. Very elegant.

So it's a tough one to evaluate accurately. There's so much wonderful playing and some songs are beautifully structured, yet there's also a lot of the simpler stuff – well played yet uninspired. Interestingly the CD seems to improve toward the end with the more intelligent, layered, progressive components featured in the last several tracks. And here's an important observation: Book Of Reflections grows on you with repeated listens, and that alone is a strong recommendation.

LINEUP:
Vocals

Andy Engberg (Section A/ex-Lion's Share)
Mikael Holm (Winterlong)
Hubi Meisel (ex-Dreamscape)
Torgny Stjärnfelt (Condition Red)
Additional vocals - Torgny Stjärnfelt (Condition Red) and Mikaela Mattsson

Instruments:
Keyboards - Vitalij Kuprij, Lars Eric Mattsson
Guitars - Rusty Cooley, Lars Eric Mattsson
Drums -Eddie Sledgehammer
Bass - Lars Eric Mattsson




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