In my Sea of Tranquility review of Dreamtone's 2003 demo, Unforeseen Reflections, I made the bizarre statement that if Robert Smith of The Cure fronted a metal, the result would probably sound something like Turkey's Dreamtone. Well, those Cure influences are all but gone on Sojourn, the band's official debut disc. And although the album is not slated for release until early 2006, the band has fired up its promotional vehicle early and already mailed review copies to some of the world's best metal media outlets …
The big surprise this time is hearing Shadow Gallery guitarist/keyboardist Gary Wehrkamp narrating the tale of a deceived angel in search of peace and family. While Wehrkamp's six segments, placed between 11 songs, were recorded at lower volume than the music and seriously impede the album's flow, Dreamtone must be doing something right in order to convince the man to get involved in this when there's a new Shadow Gallery album to promote. (Wehrkamp also has lent himself to projects helmed by Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Trent Gardner in the past.) Dreamtone's sound differs from those bands, but Sojourn does pull influences from Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Dream Theater, In Flames and Iced Earth. The band's musicians are on par with the players in those bands, and vocalist Oganalp Canatan has improved immensely. He doesn't yelp as much as he did on Unforeseen Reflections, and his words are more audible despite an increased reliance on more aggressive and thrash-like delivery styles.
Sojourn takes several spins to fully grasp, although I'm sure the final version's booklet will include plot details and reprinted lyrics. Unfortunately, it appears as if Sojourn will be released independently by the band - a shame, really, considering how much effort Dreamtone obviously put into both its demo and this record. Maybe a few more lyrical and musical hooks will help these guys score a deal next time …
2) A Transition
3) Behind the Race
4) A Dream
7) Come to Me
8) The Teaser
10) This Is A Goodbye
11) My Last Dawn
14) An Angel Fell
15) The Pact
Added: April 6th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Dreamtone Web Site
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Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-04-06 09:13:57
Although their Unforseen Reflections was no where near like a demo, Sojourn is Dreamtone's first official album. The band shows growth and improvement, moreso musically than sonically (as the demo sounded amazing in its own right). Their new work features some great international names, such as the amazing Gary Wehrkamp of Shadow Gallery doing the narration on several tracks, telling the story of a fallen angel trying to reunite with its family; and the noted mastering engineer Jim Brick who's previously worked with artists like James Labrie and Jordan Rudess. While the recording and mixing of the songs is strong and dynamic, I firmly believe the tracks with Wehrkamp's spoken parts are noticeably lower than the other instruments, and as he appears on a total of six tracks through the album, this may get a bit distracting, if not annoying.
Vocalist Oganalp Canatan's singing style is rough and in-your-face, and in my opinion will be the make-it-or-break-it factor for most of the listeners. Though quite a special voice in its own way, it is arguable how well it fits music in this vein: highly melodic, often symphonic synth arrangements, thunderous guitar rhythms, silent piano passages, spoken lyrics, cinematic moments, and so on. At times, marching drums and visceral guitar melodies create a dark aura as on "Reasons", a song featuring plenty of epic power metal riffs, atmospheric keyboards, and sweeping guitar solos. Mostly instrumental, the piece stands out as one of the more powerful cuts on the disc. Actually, the instrumental sections on the album can be quite riveting, be it the acoustic guitar and keyboard-driven "Nightmare" or the Blind Guardian-like instrumental number "Escape", starting with sparse piano notes and fiercely hitting atmospheric heights with a balanced drum and guitar interplay, all within a mandotory power metal blueprint. One big exception has got to be the lovely "Come to Me" ballad, sung by both Canatan and female singer Yasemin Genc whose beautiful harmonies lend the piece a dreamy vibe. The two singers duet, exchanging verses in such an uncannily Ayreon style that the song feels like a leftover from The Human Equation album, only with less professional vocal parts. The album's heavier (and in many ways most inviting) track is "Riot". The guitar riffs are heavy, as they sparkle and brim with German power metal influence, and the vocal harmonies are solid. The track constantly moves between its heavy and calmer moments, rendering the instrumentation most dynamic.
Even though some people refer to Dreamtone as a progressive metal band or power-prog (whatever that means), I don't really think they're proggy at all. What I hear in their music is solid guitar riffs that could often be heard in dark power metal, somewhat angry and emphasized vocal lines, great synth playing and some orchestral moments, with spoken parts and some female vocals used for good measure. That said, if you consider bands like Blind Guardian, Angra, Kamelot, Rage, or even Rhapsody prog metal, then feel free to add Dreamtone to the list. At any rate, they're a great band with a promising future, but continued work (both musically and lyrically) is a must. For a band so young, Sojourn should be considered a big success. It surely needs to mentioned that getting Gary Wehrkamp to guest on your debut album cannot be overlooked. Let's hope their newly-found distributor helps them reach a wider audience.
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