Every once in a while an album comes along and takes you by storm. It's not necessarily the most groundbreaking or an unusually original record, but it has this certain quality to it that directly speaks to you and occupies your stereo/discman for a good many weeks - non-stop!
Eyefear's 9 Elements of Inner Vision is that kind of an album. I'd never heard of this band until this CD of theirs came out, and was quite surprised that it was actually their sophomore release. It turned out they had already released their first one in 1996; so they're no newcomers. 9 Elements of Inner Vision, however, is what put them on the map, possibly because of their new line-up, especially singer Danny Cecati (ex-Pegazus). Cecati is an unbelievably amazing vocalist; he can scream like there's no tomorrow and deliver heart-wrenchingly emotional tunes. I haven't heard this band's debut, but I'd bet that it sounds completely different from 9 Elements, since this is one of those albums heavily characterized by bands' lead singers. At first, Danny Cecati reminded me of former Steel Prophet vocalist Rick Mythiasin's style on the debut album of Redemption. Sort of like an aggressive power metal vocalist singing for a melodic progressive band. On the other hand, his phrasing is more in the lines of Roy Khan (ex-Conception, Kamelot) and perhaps the lead singer of Pagan's Mind. If you've heard any of these guys, you can bet that Cecati possesses a killer voice that you will most probably be impressed with. Check out the killer scream at the end of track two, "Two Souls Apart". The other song, "Where Clouds Divide" is even scarier. It opens with emotional vocals that quickly turn into a powerful falsetto scream right off the bat. His slower singing is even more amazing. There are two ballads here with great piano work and intense vocal harmonies.
The music also has certain reference points. I was immediately forced to think of Eternity X's The Edge album when I heard the first couple of tracks on this disc - the groovy bass, in particular. Guitarist and main songwriter, Kosta Papazoglou, plays extremely crunchy rhythms over delicately woven keyboard arrangements. The contrast is most likely going to appeal to fans of Evergrey. The dark tone of the music, lyrics and even artwork are going to add to it. I was pleasantly surprised to find out in the booklet that Andy LaRocque had mixed the album. Since LaRocque mixed my favourite Evergrey album, In Search of Truth, as well, and Eyefear members being big fans of the band, I believe this disc may garner tons of fans, provided that it reaches the right audience. I've heard other people comparing Eyefear to bands like Vanishing Point, which I agree with whole-heartedly (producer Endell Rivers has worked with both bands), and some others, including Control Denied, Conception, Vanden Plas, and Ark. I seem to detect some Pagan's Mind like arrangements here, which is a big plus, given that Celestial Entrance is one of the most brilliantly produced prog metal discs, ever.
Back to Eyefear. Their brand of music could be labeled melodic prog metal with various time signatures, alternating between wicked vocals and guitar runs with shifts of mood and colour. The guitar solos here are no doubt going to please fans of Symphony X. What I particularly like about this disc is that there isn't a single overplayed riff for the sake of showing off. Keyboardist Sammy Giaccotto's melodies are soft, yet sparse and they are laid over the music like a thick blanket. The drumming is more direct and not as complex as some other prog bands out there. Its directness and double bass drum use may also appeal to fans of power metal, but I'd hardly call Eyefear "power-prog". I've always hated that term anyway; besides, the music presented on this disc is certainly progressive in style. One little complaint could be made about the packaging; on the back of the CD sleeve it says there are 10 tracks on this album, while there are only 9. Mattias Noren's artwork and layout is fantastic. I can pretty much tell his work by heart now, cause he's really developing a distinctive style. I've been listening to this disc for nearly two months now, and repeated listens have revealed that the songs on this disc are a tad same-y, i.e. not as ultra-diverse as Eternity X's The Edge (then, what is as diverse as The Edge anyway?). But I'm not complaining; this is one of the greatest bands I've discovered recently and I can see many others enjoying them as much, if not more.
- Two Souls Apart
- Illumination Fades
- Where Clouds Divide
- Dawn (A New Beginning) - While The World Sleeps
- Pt. 1 - Dreams
- Pt. 2 - Altered Visions
- The Script Of Sorrowed Tales
- Vivid Window
- Beyond The Twilight