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Saris: Beyond The Rainbow

Album number four from German melodic, progressive metal outfit Saris sees them fly Beyond The Rainbow. Like the band’s previous work there’s a serious liking for all things dream and theater about this latest offering but then, who can argue with hooks, melodies, technical flash and some great vocals? Not me anyway and not Saris, because it would appear to be this band’s stock in trade. Opening number “Avalon”, which quickly gives way to the “Time Machine”, highlights the stunning guitar work from Derek Akkermann and it has to be said that the man’s keyboard contributions are equally as impressive, especially presented with the bright and bold sound that they are here. Add in some huge banked vocals from both the band’s two lead singers - Henrik Wager and Anja Gunther - and no less than six guest backing vocalists and there’s no doubt that it’s a hugely engaging mix that reminds of Arena, John Payne are Asia and, of course, Dream Theater.

The title track is arguably the album’s centre point, running at over eleven minutes and being a mighty fine example of the clash of progressive metal and AOR that Saris present. An attack that allows them to sound both familiar and yet distinct as they pull no punches in revealing their influences. Admittedly here, Wager may well be just a little too Labrie based for his own good, but the guy can sing and there’s no denying that he nails the approach he’s going for. With Anja’s cultured tones a clever counterpoint and some quite astounding choral-vocal stabs that remind of the sort of thing that became a highlight of the Star Wars prequel scores, the arrangements are also top drawer.

That too is a feature elsewhere, with the likes of “Orphan” a melodically classical journey that slides from AOR smoothness to the drama and scope of strings and brass with consummate ease. With grand ideas handled with skill and a lightness of touch, “Strange Melody” shows the ability to avoid turning a multi-vocal layered ballad into a schmaltzy moment, instead welding a biting riff onto a plaintive keyboard motif to great effect.

There’s no doubting that it’s easy to point out exactly where Saris are coming from and where they’ve sourced their ideas. And yet, through the confidence to build on that basis with some ambitious and well realised individualities, the results on Beyond The Rainbow are not just hugely rewarding, but also massively uplifting. More importantly, it has also seen this band record an album that thrives through repeat listens as it dazzles with some great musicianship and clever production/mixing choices. It’s also sure to be a staple in my listening rotation and ultimately, that’s the part that really matters.

Track Listing
1. Avalon
2. Time Machine
3. Oblivion
4. Beyond The Rainbow
5. Orphan
6. Strange Melody
7. New World
8. Heaven's Gate
9. Away From You
10. Infinity

Added: January 9th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Saris on bandcamp
Hits: 1070
Language: english

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Saris: Beyond The Rainbow
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-01-09 16:03:21
My Score:

German progsters Saris is a new band for me and I am very glad to have made their acquaintance as their album titled Beyond the Rainbow is an excellent slice of melodic symphonic progressive rock, with touches of AOR in the vein of Asia’s early career.

The history of the band dates back to 1981 when Derk Akkermann and Johannes Stuecker decided to play together but the band’s initial line-up did not last. In 1992 a new lineup emerged with Akkermann still leading the way. More line-up changes ensued and eventually Saris called it quits in 2000 only to return once more in 2006. Since that time a new album has been released every three years or so, but as I already mentioned I have only just begun my discovery of their music.

Beyond the Rainbow begins with the excellent “Avalon”, an energetic symphonic rocker with a soaring chorus, tasty keyboard solos and catchy guitar riffs. With “Time Machine” the soundscape oozes with spacey keyboards and melodic lead guitar. I hear some Asia in this one mostly due to the melodic keyboard drenched aesthetic. More tasty keyboard melodies and emotive vocals, including a choice choral backing can be heard in the riveting “Oblivion” whereas the twelve-minute title track combines complementary strings and acoustic guitar to great effect. It’s a nice mixture of softer soundscapes and electric sounds. The symphonic “Orphan” mixes in some darker tones and in “Strange Melody” the vibe is slightly somber featuring more tasty acoustic guitar.

Beyond the Rainbow is highly recommended to progressive rock fans wanting a catchier, more mainstream sound. Been digging this one a lot.

A Progressive Promotion Records release.

Band members:
Derk Akkermann (guitars, keyboards)
Jens Beckmann (drums)
Lutz Günther (bass, backing vocals)
Anja Günther (lead and Backing vocals)
Henrik Wager (lead vocals)

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