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Everwood: The Raven's Nest

The Hungarian prog-metal outfit present their second album following the release of the well-received Mind Games in 2005. Three suites with themes ranging from crime to ecology. If you're not sure of the theme from the lyrics, the CD has a multimedia section which includes lengthy plot descriptions. The only irritating thing is the number of textual errors and wrong English surely its not beyond the realms of expectation for the band or producers to send the text to someone with English as their native tongue to check before they commit it to CD?

Anyway, onto the more important thing the music. The first suite, "The White Angel " opens with a grand orchestral wash of keyboards before kicking into a rhythm using synthesised steel drums, followed by progressively heavier riffs until the lyrics commence. The singer, 'Balu' has a strong voice with a fair range suited to this format and works his lines in well to the relatively complex arrangements although there are times when his voice appears to strain in the higher registers. It is the compositional quality however which is the primary strength of the album. Never stuck in a riff for long or bogged down in repetitive choruses, the arrangements make good use of tempo changes and interesting chord progressions, moving smoothly from melodic stadium rock idioms through dark metal grinds to plaintive acoustic passages. The blend of symphonic layers with a powerful driving bass and solid controlled drumming is very effective, especially in the concluding part of the suite, "Like a Miracle".

"Quiet Valley", the second suite, starts with the 9 minute, "Run to My Fate", a story in itself which starts in melodic territory, elevating itself into Dream Theater-land where the song becomes more aggressive and dissonant. Stabbing keys and insistent drum fills flesh out the lyrical context of a battle between rural development and care for a unique habitat.

The 30+ minute long title suite is the most impressive beast though. A dramatic prelude gives way to a poignant introduction to the powerful Can't rain forevermore with its catchy chorus and vibrant guitar solos. "In Silent Wind", a choral addition provides a welcome embellishment to the vocal landscape; this soaring piece features some wonderfully executed complicated percussion from "Toi" Szabo, the hidden star of the band. The vocals do grate a little in places on "Days of Eternity" and "Redemption" but elsewhere they are better controlled. The keyboard work on this suite is some of the best on the album, especially in the short instrumental track although I wonder if some more analogue keys wouldn't help the rather thin reedy synth sounds which predominate. Each of the seven parts of the suite contains several structure changes giving a great deal of variety to the suite and providing ample opportunity to invoke some memorable hooks and bridges.

This bands compositional and presentational skills are not in question. If you can tolerate the heavily accented vocals and pronunciation of 'th' as 'd' throughout, this is a quality offering. Some more work on the vocal texture and accentuation and a little attention to the range of keyboards would enhance their music from decent toward the high standards set by top prog-metal bands like Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation.

Track Listing
The White Angel
1. Pure Awakening
2. Another World
3. The Marching of Time
4. Like a Miracle
Quiet Valley
5. Run to my fate
6. Unbroken
7. Behind your smile
8. Leaves of November
The Raven's Nest
9. Prelude
10. Can't rain forever
11. Silent wind the murder of Sandy Jones
12. Days of Eternity
13. The Trial
14. Escape to Death
15. Redemption

Added: July 24th 2007
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Burning Star Records
Hits: 2853
Language: english

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