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Redemption: Snowfall On Judgment Day

2002 saw the release of Redemption's self-titled debut, and they stepped it up a notch with the The Fullness of Time in 2005, then followed that with the awesome The Origins of Ruin in 2007, and ultimately we were treated to a great live DVD Frozen in the Moment: Live in Atlanta. Now after these engaging progressive metal releases, which really cemented Redemption's reputation as one of the genre's best, we now have Snowfall On Judgment Day, mixed by the respected Tommy Hansen.

With a stellar line-up featuring the skilful Nicolas van Dyk on guitars and keyboards, Ray Alder's wonderful vocals, Bernie Versailles potent guitar, Greg Hosharian's tasteful keyboards, Sean Andrews fine bass playing and Chris Quirarte's exciting drum work, the band really puts it all together here. Plus, for the Dream Theater fans, and I'm sure many of which also enjoy Redemption, (or should at the very least check them out if you haven't) the splendid "Another Day Dies" has vocals from James LaBrie.

Snowfall On Judgment Day is progressive perfection plain and simple. I love the extra touches like at the start of the punchy track "Walls" which has a fantastic chorus, and Ray Alder sounds as wonderful as ever on this release.The heavy track "Peel" is a top notch opener, as this very busy track has it all, and the eleven minute epic "Love Kills us All/Life in One Day" is another fantastic dose of progressive metal.

I wouldn't say Snowfall On Judgment Day surpasses The Fullness of Time and The Origins of Ruin, which isn't a negative, I just like them so very much also, but this one's in my top five for 2009 for sure.

Track list:
3.Leviathan Rising
4.Black and White World
6.Keep Breathing
7.Another Day Dies
8.What Will You Say
9.Fistful of Sand
10.Love Kills us All/Life in One Day

Added: March 14th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 6440
Language: english

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Redemption: Snowfall On Judgment Day
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-03-14 13:11:33
My Score:

With Snowfall on Judgment Day, Redemption recaptures the magic of their second album, their quintessential masterpiece, The Fullness of Time. The album is marked with a noticeable increase of level in the songwriting department, utilizing more addictive vocal melodies, dexterous guitar work, amazing rhythm parts, and great use of keyboards.

All of the songs are rife with Redemption's trademark riffery, slicing through melodic phrases of guitar harmonies and synth patches. Primary songwriter Nick van Dyk continues to impart corrosive riffs and melting leads alongside his rhythm guitar partner Bernie Versailles. More than prior releases, the interplay between the guitars is more elaborate, sometimes building from a single riff to mammoth soundcapes. A prime example of this feat is the second track "Walls" -- it starts off with eerie, industrial-like beats, but they're quickly replaced by wall-of-sound guitar harmonies, a fantastic chorus, and fuzzy bass lines. Alder really outdoes himself here, producing some of his most memorable melodies in Redemption.

The guitar work is solid on the whole record, but there are some pieces which deserve special mention. The use of eastern scales on "Another Day Dies", one of the heavier cuts on the CD, adds a cool texture to the riffs. It is also punctuated by a great bass line by Sean Andrews who fills each song with a strong low end. The song features Dream Theater singer James Labrie duetting with Ray Alder -- this is their first duet since Fates Warning's 1991 album, Parallels.

The incorporation of synths into the rock-solid guitar sound is seamless. New member Greg Hosharian does a great job on the keys, rendering the compositions more nuanced. His playing is subtle yet when the keys are brought to the front they make the songs all the more interesting. Sometimes it's a simple melody or a patch, but each song offers him enough space to lend it an extra dimension. On "Black and White World", the part where his atmpospheric patch slowly disappears under a storm of riffs, and some of the album's finest drum fills is stunning. Hosharian, unlike Nick van Dyk who performed the keys on earlier albums, has a more noticeable touch to the songs, particularly in the unison leads. The song towards the end sees him swapping lines with van Dyk, but he never steals from the piece, as he treads back and allows van Dyk to wrap everything up with a brilliant run-out lead.

This experiment is reintroduced on "Fistful of Sand", the album's heaviest song in terms of production. The guitars are atypical of any earlier Redemption material. They have a jarring and discordant effect, lending themselves to dissonant territory, and when they clash with the synths they create chaotic instrumental sections. This is also evident on "Leviathan Rising", which intentionally puts Alder's vocals to the back, and highlights dissonant guitar phrases over spoken male and female vocals, and the machine-like precision of drum (Chris Quirarte is a monster!) and bass parts. That said, Nick van Dyk still manages to divide the piece with his classic piano breaks and Alder's unmistakable vocalizations.

The two mandatory ballady songs are "Keep Breathing", fueled with so much emotion in its verses; and the closing number "Love Kills Us All / Life in One Day". The latter is the longest song on the CD. It shifts from calm piano interludes to momentous guitar passages and addictive vocal melodies. However, my personal favourite has to be "What Will You Say", though heavier, a song that carries on the classic Redemption ethic. Nick van Dyk is the first guitarist in prog metal that comes to mind when it comes to writing such personal, emotional tracks. The guitar solo in this song drips with sheer emotion, especially the finale where he borrows some bluesy licks for added tension.

The band chose to work with Tommy Hansen on this album. Hansen has given the music a less polished feel while keeping the clarity on the vocals and instrumentation intact. Also, unlike the previous album, this one carries more weight and purpose to its sound.

I still consider The Fullness of Time Redemption's finest hour, but this album certainly comes very close and even matches its intensity at times.

Redemption: Snowfall On Judgment Day
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-11-01 18:17:26
My Score:

Though they've had a string of amazing albums previously, there's little doubt that Snowfall on Judgement Day, the latest effort from Redemption, is their breakthrough. It's as if the band has finally put all the pieces together and perfectly fine-tuned every aspect of their songwriting and musicianship. Snowfall On Judgment Day is that good, and certainly one of 2009's best progressive metal releases. Ray Alder hasn't sounded this good in years, and quite frankly he sounds more confident and powerful here than he has on the last few Fates Warning releases. Soundwise, the production of band leader Nick van Dyk & Tommy Newton is spot on, and the songs are filled with memorable melodies and plenty of extended, proggy passages, but also pack a tremendous amount of metal muscle. The guitar riffs & solos from van Dyk & Bernie Versailles are crunchy and tasty, the drum work of Chris Quirarte powerful and intricate, the bass grooves from Sean Andrews solid and sinewy, and the keyboards from Greg Hosharian & van Dyk add the right amount of symphonic elements. There's really not a bad tune in the bunch, and as an added bonus you get a killer guest vocal from Dream Theater's James LaBrie on the chugging "Another Day Dies", one of the heavier tunes on the CD. You know it's a strong album when even the catchy ballad "What Will You Say" can be listed as one of the highlights.

This is one of those CDs where it doesn't really make much sense giving a song-by-song breakdown. Just do the right thing, and go out and get yourself a copy. Snowfall On Judgment Day is that good-take my word for it.

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