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Red Circuit: Trance State

Red Circuit is an awesome super group consisting of some of the most talented musicians in the melodic and progressive metal genres. It is primarily the project of Markus Teske, one of the greatest producers to come out of Germany. He is best known for his work with bands that include Vanden Plas, Symphony X, Saga, Neal Morse, and Ian Parry's Consortium Project. If you've heard the new Vanden Plas album Christ 0 and are a fan of melodic prog metal you must have loved the production on it big time. Bringing in Vanden Plas vocalist Andy Kuntz to co-produce the album, Markus Teske handles the keyboard work and much of the songwriting.

One reason why Red Circuit's Trance State is such a success is vocalist Chity Somapala. The name may not ring a bell, but I'm sure you've heard at least one of his projects: Avalon, Firewind, Ivanhoe, Moonlight Agony and so on. Somapala is an incredible vocalist and terribly underrated. He's always reminded me of another Sri Lankan singer, Roy Khan. His smooth, expressive voice is both powerful and utterly emotive and it allows him to portray a huge spectrum of moods. This album could be his best performance in his career yet (along with Avalon's Eurasia) in that he delivers amazing vocal harmonies that exude melody and power dripping with emotion. For example, the opening track, whose Eternity X-like keyboard intro by Teske is masterful in itself, finds Somapala going for a Lande meets Khan style with added percussive work and great breaks inserted with sound effects and melodic solos. "Is It Gold?" is a groovy track, particularly for its explosive main riff, but it's swiftly carried into a different context due to heavy 70's-inspired keys and a fantastic lead solo by Adagio's Stephan Forte. To contrast Forte's intricate playing Somapala dives headlong into a multi-part vocal harmony that will make fans of Threshold go crazy. And as if that's not enough, there is the exotic-sounding "The Veil" that eerily evokes Turkey's Pentagram during their Anatolia period. Rich Middle Eastern instruments, huge bass, a terrific interplay between guitars and keyboards, and on top of all, another guest solo by Vanden Plas' shredder Stephan Lill, not unlike his awe-inspiring work on Christ 0.

"Where You Are" calms things down a bit. It's mostly Teske's piano and a sad violin juxtaposed giving way to one of the most impressive vocal melodies I've heard all year (give a close listen between 1:32 and 1:59 especially). There are also great backing vocals in the second half of the piece, by female singer Christine Wolff. The middle part of the album boasts the more straightforward, groovy cuts such as "So Hard to Be Like God" where Teske marries symphonic elements with electronic soundscapes; "Search for Your Soul" guested by an insane solo guitar virtuoso Patrick Rondat; and "You Might Have Been Queen", which finds bassist Tommy Schmitt and drummer Frank Bodenheimer laying down some complex rhythms and unexpected fills. From here on, the band's influences, particularly in the vocal department, are again more noticeable. "The Screen" is like a song off of Conception's Flow masterpiece with delightful pianos while "Go Straight" feels like Vanden Plas' heaviest moment where the guitars and bass gush out the speakers still retaining a distinct melodic edge thanks to Markus Teske's keyboards. Speaking of the keyboards on Trance State, Teske proves here that he is foremost a musican and then a producer. He pulls out all kinds of sounds from a wide musical palette incorporating it into a very melodically structered yet also deeply heartfelt compositional frame. His work on the final track (again with some female vocals) is a testimony to his diversity.

This album is one of the best melodic prog releases of the year and is highly recommended to fans of Vanden Plas, Threshold (Mac era), Conception, and even Cloudscape whose second album is about to be released.

Track Listing

  1. Under The Sun
  2. Is It Gold?!
  3. The Veil
  4. Where You Are
  5. So Hard to Be Like God
  6. Search for Your Soul
  7. You Might Have Been Queen
  8. The Screen
  9. Go Straight
  10. Trance State

Added: May 31st 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Red Circuit website
Hits: 4703
Language: english

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