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Expedition Delta: Expedition Delta

When was the last time you played a prog rock CD and just felt good all over, humming the catchy melodies long after the disk has left your player, and thinking about just how marvelous the vocals and instrumental work was that you just heard? Probably not too often, but if you pick yourself up a copy of Expedition Delta's self-titled debut for ProgRock Records, chances are you'll be doing exactly that. Expedition Delta is the project of guitarist Srdjan Brankovic, founding member of the band Alogia, who are one of the most popular progressive metal band's in Serbia. For this CD, Srdjan has assembled a group that consists of Ivan Vasic on bass, singer Nikola Mijic, Damir Adzic on drums, and keyboard player Vladimir Djedovic. In addition, there are a host of special guests who contribute solos, including Shadow Gallery guitarist Gary Wehrkamp, Rocket Scientists' keyboard ace Erik Norlander, Labyrinth's Andrea De Paoli, Time Requiem's Richard Andersson, After Forever's Joost van den Broek, Silent Force's Torsten Roehre (yes, there are some smokin' keyboard solos on this release!), plus some additional vocalists, guitarists, and keyboard players. It's a star studded affair, yet despite what it might sound like this is not a shred fest alone, as each song is extremely memorable and catchy, combining elements of metal, prog, and AOR. Think Journey meets Ayreon meets Dream Theater meets Jefferson Starship and you have a good idea of what to expect here.

The first two tracks "Asunder Hearts" and "Fading Images" are ultra catchy fare that could easily tear up FM rock radio if given the chance, filled with soaring male & female vocals, catchy hooks, ripping guitar & keyboard solos, and tight rhythms. Brankovic is a stunning player, his solos melodic yet full of jaw dropping technique, and he takes every opportunity to get into some intense shredding duals with the many keyboard players assembled for the CD. On "Into the Halls of Eternity" he gets into a wicked exchange with Aghora guitarist Santiago Dobies, and shares some wild moments with Wehrkamp & van den Broek on the dazzling instrumental "Flight With the Mind". The female vocals on the album are provided by Edenbridge's Sabine Edelsbacher, as well as Irina Kaperanovic and Aleksandra Jankovic, all three doing a fine job and meshing with Mijic's powerful male vocals quite nicely. Other hot tracks are the addicting "Move On" (another song that could have easily been a radio hit back in the 80's), the spacey "Planets" (complete with Norlander's signature Moog stamp), the complex progressive metal of "Reach For the Light", and the upbeat, symphonic prog closer "It Needs a Happy End", the latter a great vehicle for Mijic's passionate vocals.

From start to finish, this is one enjoyable ride, and I'm hoping that Srdjan Brankovic has a lot more like this up his sleeve. If you like progressive rock with a metal edge and loaded to the hilt with catchy hooks, then you need to get a hold of Expedition Delta pronto


Track Listing
1. Asunder hearts
2. Fading images
3. Self abstract
4. Into the halls of eternity
5. Flight with the mind
6. The awakening
7. Move on
8. Planets
9. Not too late
10. Reach for the light
11. It needs a happy end

Added: April 22nd 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band's My Space Page
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Language: english

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Expedition Delta: Expedition Delta
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-04-22 07:54:02
My Score:

Ever heard music from Serbia? Not many of us have, but that country's biggest selling prog-metal outfit is Alogia, and Expedition Delta is the solo project of one of the band's co-founders. Srdjan Brankovic has pulled together a cast of excellent musicians - some well known, many not - in a sort of Ayreon-like project. Good songwriting and consistent production yield a powerful CD by welding together performances by After Forever's Joost van den Broek, Edenbridge's golden voiced Sabine Edelsbacher, Rocket Scientist Erik Norlander, Shadow Gallery's Gary Wehrkamp, Labyrinth's Andrea De Paoli, Silent Force's Torsten Roehre, Alogia's Santiago Dobles, and Time Requiem's Richard Andersson - among others.

Most vocals are handled by Nikola Mijic - whose rich earthy timbre is reminiscent of Heart. There's plenty of raw emotional appeal to her delivery that will win many fans. There are also guest appearances by Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge) and other female vocalists - and you can't help thinking that more liberal use of those guests would have provided more variety, and a still more rock-operatic tone to the record.

The style of the music is catchy, bombastic and anthemic - a kind of metallic pomp-rock, an approachable prog-metal meets AOR - sometimes with the ambitious, wide-reaching tones of power metal. With 11 songs in 51 minutes the songs average four and a bit minutes and there aren't any prog epics, but it's (mostly) upbeat, it's melodic, and there are plenty of progressive elements. Listen for the neo-classical elements played on keyboards by masters of that art form like Alex Argento and (particularly) Richard Anderson. Or the guitar solos by Gary Wehrkamp and Brankovic's band-mate Santiago Dobies.

"Asunder Hearts" is a powerful introduction to the album, with very catchy riffs and wonderful chops on guitar and keyboard. The dark tones, and big instrumentals and broad choral vocals of "Self Abstract" are very reminiscent of Ayreon. Track 8, "Planets" is spacey, with an Erik Norlander solo - listen for his signature deep synth sounds. It's very brief at under 3 minutes, but it's a welcome change of pace. "Into the Halls of Eternity" has the elements of a pleasing ballad but the instrumental solos are powerful and lift the energy levels to match the rest of the record. Closer "It Needs a Happy End" is an upbeat power-metallic piece with some of the strongest vocals on the album, and with instrumental bridges that build dense layers of sound that will delight fans of neo prog or traditional prog-metal. It fades out to the choral tones of a 'Tron - followed by one of those annoying minute-and-a-half silences, and about half a minute of new music that ought to have been included in the mainstream.

It's dense, approachable, and very melodic. And don't be surprised if it proves to be the launching pad of many of Europe's undiscovered talents.




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