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Andromeda: Chimera

It's been a few years, but the Swedish progressive metal juggernauts Andromeda are back with a new album, called Chimera. The band's debut Extension of the Wish back in 2001 is often heralded as a technical and melodic metal masterpiece, with its crazy and complex time signatures and progressive attitude, while the follow-up, 2003's II=I saw the arrival of new singer David Fremberg, along with a greater emphasis on melodies and song structures. Where does all this lead to on Chimera? Well, for one thing, the band now has gotten very good at writing a good, catchy tune, which might lead some fans to think that the band is slowly doing away with their brand of extreme chopzilla. Not to fret folks, there's plenty of musical fireworks here, but Andromeda now seem better at their songwriting skills, and don't feel the need to pummel the listener with blazing instrumental passages all the time. Much like the band Stride have done on their latest Imagine, Andromeda have created a batch of catchy, melodic and memorable songs that contain elements of metal, prog-rock, and pop. To top it all off, Fremberg is quickly emerging as one of the best singers in the prog-metal genre, as his performance here easily surpases his work with the band on II=I.

The group gets right down to business with the ripping "Periscope", a real treat for those who want to hear the jaw-dropping talents of guitarist Johan Reinholdz, keyboard player Martin Hedin, drummer Thomas Lejon, and bassist Fabian Gustavsson. This piece features plenty of metal muscle, intricate prog, and Fremberg's soaring vocals. "In the End" and "The Hidden Riddle" are more melodic numbers, and the latter is highlighted by a stunning Fremberg vocal and hooks aplenty. This one is perhaps the band's catchiest song to date. They blaze back into crunchy and intricate prog-metal on "Going Under", complete with an assortment of unison harmonies from Reinholdz and Hedin. Johan turns in a wild virtuoso guitar solo on this one that will bring a smile to the face of the sternest Petrucci and Romeo fans out there. "The Cage Of Me" mixes crunchy guitar riffs with symphonic keyboards, yet as a whole is a more atmospheric piece, and closer to neo-prog than metal. I'm reminded of Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation on the aggressive and heavy "No Guidelines", and the band literally smoke on "Inner Circle", a raging opus featuring loads of dizzying keyboard and guitar leads and melodies. The final two tracks are very strong as well, the symphonic pop metal of "Iskenderun" and the grinding metal meets melodic prog of the epic "Blink of An Eye".

Not as insanely complex as their debut, but certainly heavier than their sophomore release, Chimera gets my vote for being simply a rock solid album through and through. It has chops galore, but not overdone, and the songs and melodies are well written and memorable. Like I mentioned before, amidst all these star players is a singer in David Fremberg who is really coming into his own as a force to be reckoned with. Add it all up and you have a release from Andromeda that is sure to get people talking and further cement their position as one of today's most exciting and talented progressive metal bands.

Track listing
1. Periscope (6:11)
2. In the end (4:58)
3. The hidden riddle (5:51)
4. Going under (6:27)
5. The cage of me (7:08)
6. No guidelines (6:23)
7. Inner circle (7:03)
8. Iskenderun (5:30)
9. Blink of an eye (12:29)

Added: March 7th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Andromeda Online
Hits: 8220
Language: english

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