Symbolon Obscura is Michael DeMichele (guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals) and Simon Janis (drums, percussion), a two-man progressive rock act who worked on this little labor of love over the last 4 years in between busy professional & personal lives. You see, DeMichele is actually a physician from Pennsylvania, but also an accomplished musician and big prog fan, so his dream was to put together and record a progressive rock album, and he found the perfect partner to flesh out his vision in Janis.
Most of what you get here is a very 'home studio' sounding collection of prog & heavy rock songs, competently played and constructed, if not overly compelling. DeMichele is a pretty good guitar player, adding lots of muscular riffs to "Reality Frame" and dropping in some pretty tasty acoustic guitar and vintage sounding synth embellishments to "Clear Vision". "Cast Out" is a pretty cranking slice of progressive metal, with a wall of guitar crunch, synths, and Janis' busy drum work, and the heavier arrangements continue on "Unleashed" as DeMichele 'unleashes' some sizzling Ronnie Montrose styled lead guitar solos. The title track has somewhat of a Rush feel to it thanks to some tight, intricate guitar & bass lines, which ultimately give way to lush acoustic guitar chords and soaring lead electric melodies, and both "RFID" and "Control" are fairly heavy yet somewhat generic metal tracks. The closer "Pilgrim" is a moody, atmospheric prog song with some nice menace created by ominous guitar riffs in the background underneath some melancholic guitar strums and keyboards.
Sounds decent right? Well, for the most part, it is. Yes, the production is lackluster, but that's to be expected for a low budget affair like this. My one main gripe about the CD are the vocals of DeMichele; he just doesn't have a strong voice, and strains through most of these songs, to the point of being unlistenable in spots. Though I commend him for trying here, he just doesn't have any range and it probably would have been a better idea for him to try and find someone who could actually do these songs justice. On the mellower tracks like "Pilgrim" and "Clear Vision" he's somewhat passable, but the rest, not so much. That being said, kudos to these two for sticking to their guns and working for so long on something that they truly believed in.
1) Reality Frame
2) Clear Vision
3) Cast Out