In every field of human endeavour there are geniuses who can make the most complex or most beautiful work look deceptively simple and then there are others who labour to produce what is average. That's a law of life and, naturally, applies to the realm of music. Signs of One, on the strength of this album, fall into the latter category.
Innerlands is not a bad album, let's be clear about that, it's just that it fails to reach the heights that it clearly aspires to.
Innerlands is a "concept" album of progressive rock that touches on a number of styles: the main element is in the form associated with the genre but it also ventures into areas as diverse as death metal and folk-rock. At times it sounds extremely close to being a rock-opera. I know that mixing of styles has been done before, and to some effect, but it doesn't quite work on here.
The music is not just rich in style forms but also in the variety of the instruments used in the arrangements. In addition to the usual progressive rock instrumentation the band have invited a number of guest musicians to occasionally adorn the music with flute, clarinet and violin. These aural textures add interest but fail to raise the overall effect.
The concept of Innerlands involves a quest to a Dream World accessible only through one's subconsciousness. Not too dissimilar in subject matter to Riverside's recent "Reality Dream" trilogy, but Riverside's execution, on each of three discs, is superior.
On their MySpace page, Signs of One quote their influences as being Rush, Muse, Radiohead, Ayreon, Marillion and Arena. One that I would add to the list would be Dream Theater, who they resemble a number of times on Innerlands and especially so on "Legend Lives", where the chanting is very reminiscent of that on the excellent "Prophets of War" from Systematic Chaos. Sadly, again, Signs of One fail to live up to the promise of the inspiration from these bands.
The album starts off well enough. The short instrumental introduction, prettily adorned with flute gives way to three up-tempo tracks that are really quite enjoyable. The guitar work on these first four track is perhaps not as technically complex as that later on in the album but the musical effect is more pleasing, at least to these ears. The music, even at this stage, borders onto the compelxities of rock-opera and begins to meander to little effect slightly, but these opening four compositions are my favourite. After that my concentration begins to drift as I fail to be captivated by the lyrics or the music: that special something, that magical nuance, that touch of genius is missing from either the lyrical, vocal or musical creation.
My recommendation would be that if you are at all interested in purchasing this album that you first listen to samples on the band's MySpace page or website - it may be that David Schram's voice appeals to you, that you are amazed by Stteve Tremblay's guitar or mesmerised by Yannick Lapointe's keyboards. For me, however, it's an album where the band is good, tries really hard to deliver a killer-album but falls short.
Above average, but only just.
1) Reverie (1:28)
2) Innerlight (3:27)
3) Frantic memories (2:31)
4) Confusion (5:05)
5) Wise Man (5:13)
6) The Rain Comes (4:13)
7) Innerlands (6:46)
8) Rainbow Elves (5:09)
9) Hope (1:48)
10) Legend Lives (7:49)
11) I (6:12)
12) Farewell Master (8:45)
13) Us (8:31)
14) Fate (3:42)