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Condition Red: II

Another relatively new band to try and make its way, Condition Red's second outing breaks into some new territory while paying homage to the sounds of yesteryear with some special vocal references to none other than Sonja Kristian from Curved Air. Ella Grussner's voice bears many similarities to Sonja's on some songs and is particularly noticeable on the track, "Why Won't You Hear Me?"

Although all members of the band are given due credit for the song writing I believe Lars Eric Mattsson who handles guitars, bass, sitar and keyboards may well be the primary ideas man behind the scenes although I am sure Alex Masi gets a look in too. Eric's & Alex's playing in all areas is inspired, accurate and full of fresh techniques and styles that should not disappoint. The band plays a somewhat less aggressive form of progressive metal with some great melodies and decent songwriting without anyone taking centre stage. Ripping synth and organ runs are punctuated by some stellar drumming backed up by some fluid lead breaks when appropriate. This is very much a band effort inasmuch that all instruments are played exceptionally well by all on board. This is emphasized best on the 5th track, "The Eagle's Return", where the dynamics of the song are evenly showcased with great drumming, chops aplenty, tasty guitar leads that weave in and out with the keys and great diversity in arrangements. Just as the music is winding its way up to a tumultuous finale, you are simply dropped off the edge of a cliff right before the sitar takes over for the next song. This is a really nice effect that highlights how things can be done differently without losing total integrity with the rest of the song.

Trying to find the best songs on the CD however is a bit harder as none really stand out from the pack although there are definite signs of minor brilliance in some of the lead lines throughout many of the songs. "Rondo" is one such track that has some excellent guitar work but not much else to support it. Heavy riffage interspersed by plenty of vocals strongly reminiscent of "Marie Antoinette" from Curved Air's earlier album seem oddly out of place here, when one considers how natural it sounded decades ago with Sonja at the helm. That is not to say that Condition Red is trying to plagiarize that sound or style. They are much heavier with their arrangements and with many more fiery lead breaks to fall into that trap. I must admit to feeling the album is a bit patchy in parts and has too many sections where needless noodling dominates proceedings too often. This is a minor aside as the players are all individually more than capable and have striven to produce the best material they can. For the most part it all gels fairly well in general but as there are so many bands producing better output than this, it is a case of the individual components being better than the collective whole.

Added: October 1st 2003
Reviewer: Greg Cummins
Related Link: Condition Red's Web Site
Hits: 2997
Language: english

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