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Neverland: Reversing Time

Neverland is a joint effort by Turkish melodic metal band Dreamtone and Greek female singer Iris Mavraki. They collaborated in order to write melodic tracks that cross into both power and progressive metal territory, utilising the services of the Philarmonia Istanbul Orchestra for genuine strings and classical arrangements.

The album opener "Shooting Star" is a pretty straightforward piece with thick melodic guitars and a solid drum attack. Rife with various key and tempo changes, it segues into "To Lose the Sun", one of the album's standout tracks. The piece features Hansi Kursch and boasts strummed acoustic guitars atop beautifully arranged orchestral elements and the huge, gripping choruses typical of Blind Guardian. It's a great track with propulsive guitar work, wonderful strings and catchy piano lines.

Iris Mavraki's encompassing vocals are best represented on the folky "Mankind Is A Lie", where she exchanges verses with Dreamtone vocalist Oganalp Canatan. This track is occupied by tight rhythms forming the groundwork for ethnical instruments and a Middle Eastern melodic facade. Can Dedekarginoglu's bass is prominent throughout, which is certainly a plus considering the bass is buried way too far in the mix on many albums these days. Then there is the acoustic-driven ballad "Everlasting Tranquillity", which further highlights Mavraki's vocal talents accompanied by a sweet piano melody and some brief electric guitars at the end.

The title track is arguably also their most realized work in that the blend of the orchestra and metal instrumentation is very swift and seamless. Once again, the bass will keep you hostage after several spins, but Shadow Gallery vocalist Mike Baker's singing is also amazing. He literally shines during the densely orchestrated verses, and the guitar theme that soars over the composition is not only goose bump-inducing but also the album's high point.

On the Euro power metal-styled "Black Water", the band evokes groups like Kamelot, Angra and Labyrinth in that they all boast classical themes in their otherwise catchy and stomping metal aesthetic. Canatan's vocals are amazing and work particularly well when joined by Mavraki who helps lift the chorus. The extended interplay between guitars, keys, and drums attests to the band's meticulous arrangement and production. "World Beyond These Walls" features Tom Englund from Evergrey, and while he sounds great as always, he struggles to apply melody to some of the lyrics as they are way too long. Still, it's a good song with some blues-inflected guitar work and a smooth, clean solo.

The piano-based folky tune "Mountain of Judgement" sees Mavraki producing a nice vocal melody which is expanded on the following track "Mountain of Joy". This track also features Gary Wehrkamp (who worked with Dreamtone before) and sees him adding a gorgeous guitar solo to the piece. That said, I feel the fade-out ending seems somewhat of a cop-out. There are also two other tunes which fade out at the end, and feel they could have benefited from more powerful codas.

"Transcending Miracle" is the outlet for guitarist Burak Kahraman to demonstrate his playing and songwriting skills in the course of a six-minute instrumental track. Far from the technically challenging styles, Kahraman shows melodic playing can be equally rewarding in a clever songwriting avenue chock full of strings and even a saxophone addition. There is also a bonus track titled "Once Again This Life" on my copy with ethereal vocals lingering over symphonic elements and melodic guitar work.

Despite being a debut album, the songwriting is solid and the production is stellar. For a band in their twenties, getting members of Blind Guardian, Shadow Gallery, and Evergrey on their debut album speaks for itself. Actually all four of them have worked with Arjen Lucassen before, one of the genre's driving forces. This one is recommended to both listeners of symphonic metal and super projects a la Ayreon, Avantasia as well as more medium-scale groups such as Genius, Amaran's Plight, and Missa Mercuria.

Besides the bonus track, the limited edition of the album also contains videos of band interviews and studio footage. The artwork by J.P. Fournier (Edguy) is stunning as well and the booklet is designed beautifully.

Track Listing

  1. Shooting Star
  2. To Lose the Sun
  3. Mankind Is A Lie
  4. Everlasting Tranquillity
  5. Reversing Time
  6. Black Water
  7. Mountain of Judgement
  8. Mountain of Joy
  9. World Beyond These Walls
  10. Transcending Miracle
  11. Once Again This Life (bonus track)

Added: February 18th 2010
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Neverland website
Hits: 4569
Language: english

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Neverland: Reversing Time
Posted by Franklin Williams, III, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-17 23:25:06
My Score:

2008 was a tough year for year for this progressive rock consumer. Although the progressive rock world was busy, things were noticeably slow for established artists, and almost all of the new music from the year came from upstarts. Though some of these new artists are no doubt quite good, I chose to spend my disposable income to fill in gaps in my collection while taking time to sort it all out. I mention this only because this Reversing Time has given me room for considerable regret. As things turn out this one is a real gem. Sadly, I wonder how many others I may have missed.

Other than a band hailing from Turkey, nothing about Neverland is singular or unique. Reversing Time is yet another progressive metal-opera release in the vein of Transiberian Orchestra or Avantasia - complete with a few well-known guest artists and an orchestra. At the risk of appearing heavy handed at the expense of bands whose work I truly admire, the contrasts should be bold to give this release its due. The thing that amazes me about Reversing Time is how a freshman release can rejuvenate a crowded market with such simplicity and maturity

Built around Iris Mavraki and Dreamtone, Neverland gives us a sonic journey into yet another realm of epic fantasy sans emotional cliché and acerbic critique. Capturing the simplicity of Grimm's Fairytales, this one is a lyrical collection of sketches about time-reversal and second chances with equal parts of passion and consequence. Neverland has meted their peers' commercial and technical successes using the economic route to highlight their own considerable talents with dexterity and restraint. With an eye on continuity Reversing Time is a luscious landscape offering real variety in tones and atmospheres while avoiding facsimile solos played by an army of guitarists with competing points of view. When guests are used, their contributions function as integrated voices within the musical score rather than as individual performances attached as commentary around a central theme. To celebrate their vision this release has leapt to the top as one of my favorite releases in this style for the abbreviated reasons just proffered. Reversing Time is an amazing slice of metal-opera - and Neverland is a band with serious potential if they continue to deliver music of this quality.

Using the comparison as foundation of my case, I'll defer the traditional song-by-song analysis of how Neverland pulled this off. Rather than denying one the thrill of discovery, I prefer to simply state an opinion and leave the exploration for those whose curiosity may be piqued. This release may not rise to the occasion as the definitive statement in the style, yet Reversing Time is worth the minimal investment of time and expense. If progressive metal operas are your thing, this band is worth knowing. As I await their next efforts I will now go back to the mines to see what other gems I may have missed.

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