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Sudano, Keith: Biography of Me

Even though I no longer like ranking bands and their albums, if pressured and forced to make a single choice, I might name Eternity X's 1997 album The Edge as the greatest progressive metal disc I have ever heard. Unfortunately, The Edge would be Eternity X's final album, as internal problems within the band caused three of the members to leave and form another band while Keith Sudano tried to keep the band going with the bass player, Zeek, and new members. As the fans were anxiously waiting for the new album, From the Ashes, they were told that the band was over and the album would never be released.

Years passed and one day Keith Sudano decided to sell the rough demos of the unreleased album. While any Eternity X fan could notice and pick up on the themes, melodies, and the songwriting genius of Sudano, the recording quality and mix was simply awful (also there were no keyboards on the CD; they had been replaced with another guitar in the mix). Despite being a die-hard fan, I've only been able to play the CD in its entirety only a handful times. It's such a shame because I would love to hear those songs as they were meant to be heard. The album features "The Confession Pt.2" and fans never got to hear it. Can you believe it?

Again, years passed and it was announced that Keith Sudano had reformed Eternity X, again with new members. They actively shopped for labels interested for a year or so, briefly negotiating with a Greek label that then went under. Shortly after, Sudano announced that the band was done and there would be no new music from him.

We didn't hear from him again...until 2014. The Biography of Me, as one can tell from the title, marks Keith Sudano's return to music after 17 long years. It is truly a solo album in the every sense of the word. Sudano not only sings but also plays all instruments and handles the orchestration. While I've never doubted his singing skills, portraying a million moods and tugging at the heart strings, I have to admit that he is average at best on the guitar and drums. I don't really like the drum tone or mix very much. It sounds a bit out of place and overpowering and the drum tone certainly leaves a lot to be desired. Actually in some songs, the drums seem to be programmed, and those are the most annoying parts in the songs. Guitar solos are utilized sporadically and they're usually short and to the point. Also, while I can detect his unique melodic feel, I feel the execution would have been better with a real, full-time guitar player. That, however, might have defeated the purpose of making this album. Maybe then, it wouldn't be a solo disc for Keith Sudano.

Sudano's vocals have changed quite a bit as well. Gone are his insanely multi-angled vocalizations or soul-scarring screams and falsettos. Think how Jon Oliva's singing changed over the years. I would describe Sudano's vocals have undergone a somewhat similar transformation. Except for a few of the songs, such as "A Love Story," where he shares the vocals with Lauren O'Conner, with whom I'm not familiar, he usually stays within his comfort zone, exuding a rich baritone voice. The orchestrations, keyboard, and piano work certainly help set the mood of these compositions, with very personal lyrics helping to demonstrate his current artistic vision. "The Stand" sounds like a lost song from The Edge sessions in that it perfectly captures the protagonist's desperation and anxiety, but I really feel the mix and production should have been better. My favourite song after going through this disc seemingly hundreds of times has got to be "I Can Feel You Near." The call-and-response vocal part, Sudano's desperate croon, and the heartfelt lyrics certainly bring back great memories. I can't believe this man did not make music for nearly 20 years.

Bottom line, I didn't think for a second whether I should pick this disc up when I heard Sudano was releasing a solo album. I will continue supporting him for as long as he makes music, and I appreciate this album for what it is: a statement with personal lyrics, great melodies, and his unique voice and songwriting vision. It would be a stretch to call any of these pieces progressive metal per se; rather, they are melodic singer-songwriter cuts which I believe were initially put together on acoustic guitar and later translated to electric guitar and other rock instrumentation. Maybe they would be better suited for an acoustic album setting. That way, the sheer raw emotion in Sudano's voice would come through much better and the production flaws would not matter so much.

Still, any Eternity X or progressive metal fan that ever heard The Edge should check this disc out. Keith Sudano is back!

(For those of you interested, he explains why he decided to make a comeback and release this album in the liner notes, so you may want to pick up the hard copy.)

Track Listing
1. Symphony of Fear 5:10
2. The One 4:20
3. The Biography of Me 4:13
4. Fearless 4:56
5. A Love Story 6:24
6. The Stand 5:15
7. Forever Calling 7:02
8. I Can Feel You Near 6:09
9. Eulogy 4:41

Added: June 22nd 2014
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 2099
Language: english

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