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Pictorial Wand: A Sleeper's Awakening

Big concept, big sound, big production values, and a big cast of performers suggest yet another counterpart to Ayreon, this time from the hand of Norway's Mattis Sörum. Approaching two hours and fence-straddling heavy symphonic prog and straight-up prog-metal, A Sleeper's Awakening is imbued with a classical rock feel — Sörum's key influences include but are not limited to Tull, Wakeman and Camel ("Prologue"). While writing all the lyrics and recording all the guitars (along with keyboards and sitar), Sörum enlisted a dedicated bassist and drummer, and a second keyboardist in Paal Selsjord Björseth who lent his skills on piano, harpsichord and organ.

Figure in a pair each of cellists and flautists, plus nine singers to handle their respective "roles" and it may be cruel if easy to dismiss Pictorial Wand as a "poor man's Ayreon." As the tracklist makes exceedingly obvious, the Seven Deadly Sins of Lust, Sloth, Envy, Wrath, etc., form the nucleus of the concept which involves a [character's] reflections and pending atonements for a licentious lifestyle. Vocalists Petter Selliseth and Ingrid Strid and the others turn in solid performances but for some reason or another the song sections descend into the realm of the unremarkable, making looking forward to the next solo or instrumental build-up appealing. Some slick melodies aside, the dilemma is that conceptual opuses like this are becoming (if not already) dime-a-dozen productions, all drawing from a too-similar blueprint. A pleasant counterbalance exists between the classical and traditional rock instruments, but it isn't quite enough this time out. And though it sports many a plodding segment, this ambitious work doesn't fail to have some nice "zen" moments in the longer instrumental stretches found in tracks like "In Shadow" and "The Beast Within," e.g. a moody legato piano vamp beamed over from one of Chopin's Nocturnes (no, not really, but it's obviously Björseth and it's very nice). In, all, worth a listen, but this kind of stuff needs a break.


Side One {Disc One}:

1. Prologue (3:16)
2. The King & His Land – Pt. I (6:42)
3. The Gate Of Lost Souls (4:41)
4. Pride – The Path Of Thorns (5:28)
5. Envy Pt. I – In Shadow (11:06)
6. Envy Pt. II – Broken Glass (7:24)
7. Wrath Pt. I – A Wandering In The Dark (3:41)
8. Wrath Pt. II – The Beast Within (10:06)
9. Gluttony – Corrosion Of Flesh (7:23)

Side Two {Disc Two}:

1. Sloth Pt. I – Retrospective Visions (4:24)
2. Sloth Pt. II – Red Sunset & A Drowning Fly (9:14)
3. Greed Pt. I – The Golden Path (7:48)
4. Greed Pt. II – Warning Not Heard (11:12)
5. Lust Pt. I – The Temptress Of Unchastity (7:01)
6. Lust Pt. I – A Sleeper's Awakening (9:50)
7. The King & His Land Pt. II – Pensiveness (2:54)

Added: November 29th 2006
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Related Link: Unicorn Records
Hits: 2042
Language: english

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