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Kuprij, Vitalij: Glacial Inferno & Revenge

Ready for some rip-roarin', burn the house down, neo-classical shredding? Well then, welcome to the world of hotshot metal/fusion keyboard player Vitalij Kuprij (Artension/Ring of Fire), who teams up with ace guitarist Michael Harris (Thought Chamber) for this two CD tour-de-force of instrumental fireworks on Glacial Inferno & Revenge. The first CD Glacial Inferno is an all-instrumental affair that sees Kuprij & Harris going all out with a non-stop barrage of neo-classical metal & fusion barn burners. Joining them is the rock solid rhythm section of drummer John Maccaluso and bassist Randy Coven (both formerly with Ark as well as Yngwie Malmsteen), and the results are virtuoso to say the least. The second part of this set, Revenge, is a vocal set with the band and a who's-who of guest singers, originally a Japan only release now made available to everyone.

Glacial Inferno is one of those albums that you are either going to absolutely love or hate. Let's face it, these guys can rip-there's no question about that. The compositions are tight, classically oriented, with plenty of room left for metal & fusion noodling, especially from Kuprij's synths & piano, and Harris' blazing guitar runs.Tunes like "Liquid Rain", "Symphonic Force", and the mind-blowing title track, are just majestic pieces that never let up, featuring wild synth runs, tasty piano melodies, crunchy riffs and mind-bending guitar solos. Harris proves to be one of the best undiscovered guitar players of the last few years (check out his recent solo outing Orchestrate as well as the new Thought Chamber CD for proof of this), and this guy can shred with the best of them, as well as go for more melodic and restrained fare, like on the gorgeous "Divided Horizon", a sophisticated and symphonic piece that also has some serious crunch to it, with great keyboard work from Kurpij and slippery bass lines from Coven. You might hear a touch of Return to Forever on "Dancing Flame", which has a little Middle Eastern-meets-Latin touch, with Kuprij & Corea doing their Corea/DiMeola thing, while "Burning Ice" is a showcase for Maccaluso's intricate drum bashing and plenty of shredding guitar & keyboard lines from both Harris and Kuprij. Fans of instrumental music that doesn't hold anything back and hits on all the metal, classical, and fusion elements will no doubt find plenty to drool over here on Glacial Inferno, but if you are of the opinion that this sort of flash borders on "wankery", then you might want to stay clear. Too bad though if this is the case, as this here's some impressive stuff from some world class players.

The second part of this set sees these four musicians teaming up with a host of singers, such as Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow/Deep Purple/Hughes-Turner/Yngwie Malmsteen), Dougie White (Rainbow/Thunderstone/Yngwie Malmsteen), Goran Edman (John Norum/Yngwie Malmsteen), Apollo Papathanasio (Time Requiem/Firewind), Chris Catena, and Shaun Leahy. If you see a pattern here, yes, it looks like save for Mark Moals & Jeff Scott Soto, Vitalij has scooped up most of the former Malmsteen vocalists for this one. The results are pretty solid, as the band rips through ten neo-classical metal tracks that sound similar to your standard Artension/Ring of Fire/Yngwie Malmsteen fare, and on a few occasions approach something like what we expect from Symphony X. The best tunes here are "Burning My Soul" (with a great Joe Lynn Turner vocal and some complex arrangements), and the symphonic metal stomper "Into the Void", with Apollo's soaring Coverdale-like pipes ripping through intense bass & drum rhythms while Kuprij and Harris lay down plenty of melodic & virtuoso melodies. The title track is a snarling slice of metal, "Classic War" and "J. Haydn-Excerpt From Sonata In E Minor" are short instrumentals featuring Kuprij and his amazing piano chops, and "Emperor's Will" is a crushing, doomy piece that is easily the heaviest thing on either of these CD's, with thick riffs from Harris and aggressive vocals. If you like more melodic, pop flavored pieces, "Follow Your Heart" features some nice melodies sung by Edman, and "Stand Up and Fight" sees White delivering a memorable chorus.

There you have it, two sides of a coin-blistering instrumental mayhem on one, more song based vocal material on the other. Which one will work best for you depends on your musical preference, but there's plenty to like on both. Vitalij Kuprij is certainly one of progressive metal's most accomplished keyboard players, and he's thrown together a stellar cast here on these two CD's that really click and have created some solid music. it might be time he retired the stale Artension and focus on doing something permanent with Harris, Maccaluso, and Coven, getting themselves a singer, and giving the band a name. If that happens there must might be a new player on the progressive metal scene that could give a lot of the top dogs a run for their money.

Track Listing
Disc: 1 (Glacial Inferno)
1. Symphonic Force
2. Liquid Rain
3. Fire in the Sun
4. Glacial Inferno
5. Divided Horizon
6. Dancing Flame
7. Forgive
8. Dying to Live
9. Burning Ice
10. Theme by Albinoni
Disc: 2 (Revenge)
1. Burning My Soul
2. I Don't Believe in Love
3. Into the Void
4. Revenge
5. Just Another Day
6. J. Haydn-Excerpt From Sonata In E Minor
7. Classic War
8. Emperor's Will
9. Follow Your Heart
10. Stand Up And Fight
11. Let The Future Unfold

Added: May 9th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Lion Music
Hits: 2502
Language: english

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