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Lava Engine: In Limbo

I recently read about an invisible tree house that was built in Sweden. It is a reflective mirror on the outside that blends in with the natural surroundings and makes it virtually disappear. It is going to be part of a tree hotel in the rugged Northern part of the county where nature abounds. Lava Engine has to feel a bit like another invisible object in Sweden as they have now produced two fantastic EPs that rival anything in the progressive metal field and still are unknown outside of their immediate environment.

In Limbo is a crowning achievement that should have this band talked about when the names Porcupine Tree, Opeth and Spock's Beard are brought up. They have that kind of musical ability and songwriting skill. With this release the world should sit up and take notice that there is a new and fresh group that is looking to take charge in the world of progressive metal.

This album is a bit darker than its forerunner but it captures you in such a way that for the duration of the CD you are taken into a world that Lava Engine creates. It is an album of the times that makes you look around and think about what is going on in the world and also what is going on inside yourself. It has a sense of spirituality along with an introspective look at the darkness dwelling in everyone.

When "Drain Your Soul" with its eerie beginning turns to the crunching riffs of Magnus Florin and Ronnie Jaldemark there is little doubt that a true musical treat is at hand. They take you through a magical journey that breaches the worlds of metal, jazz and even adds a gothic touch to their mind bending expedition. The peaks and valleys along the way are a truly dynamic musical statement which shows both the light and dark side of the band while they masterfully execute a song that does just what the title says.

From there they lull you in with the acoustic beginning to the title track "In Limbo" before they launch into the stratosphere with a majestic blend of heavy and melodic metal that solidifies their standing in the world of prog as one of the bands that is leading the way for others to follow. This song is a magnificent piece of work that exemplifies all that is good in their chosen genre. Watch out for these guys as this is the type of stuff that cannot remain hidden for long. It is that good.

"Common Ground" takes a more spiritual approach and musically they give you the means to travel this reflective road in such a way that you will want to make the trip time and time again. An irresistible melody that really stays with you long after the song is done, they once again proves that Lava Engine is a force to be reckoned with.

"Ctrl Z" is one of the heaviest songs on the disc and one that carries a message. This one is a story which is a darker and much more sorrowful version of Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle". Believe me when I tell you that I called my daughter right after listening to this one and really had to think about if I am a good father to her. There is a powerful message here wrapped in a terrific metal melody. Dark, brooding and totally mesmerizing this is music that taps into you being. Be prepared to feel this disc as much as hear it.

They end the disc with a startling epic work called "Windows Closed". The heaviness of the band comes out once more and the shadowy feel to the album is brought to a majestic end when the crunching guitar work takes the forefront once more and this time they continue to hammer you with some of the bands finest six string work before an abrupt ending which most definitely says…That's all folks! At least until the next chapter is written.

I have had this disc for awhile and have had major trouble putting into words just what I was listening to. It is very much like trying to describe the happy/sad feeling I get when watching the sun set over Lake Huron or when fall approaches and we watch the leaves change color showing such beauty but meaning that winter is near. We all have those melancholy times sooner or later and now Lava Engine has given us a soundtrack just for those moments. This is a great disc by a great band that is on the brink of exploding onto the music scene. It doesn't get much better than you will find here.

Track listing:

1. Drain Your Soul
2. In Limbo
3. Common Ground
4. Ctrl Z
5. Widows Closed

Added: January 28th 2011
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Band's Myspace Page
Hits: 2928
Language: english

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Lava Engine: In Limbo
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-01-28 14:33:21
My Score:

Two years after their critically acclaimed debut EP, Swedish prog rock/metal band Lava Engine has returned to the scene with a new lineup and a great EP that's sure to appeal to people who've enjoyed their debut. In Limbo features two major changes in Lava Engine's lineup - drummer Christian Karlsson has been replaced by Mick Nordström and bassist Ian Varjanne has been replaced by Simon Dahlström. Lava Engine is one of the few bands in the modern progressive metal scene who's seeking to break new ground rather than hide in the shadows of the genre's leaders, and I have an unending respect for them and their adventurous attitude. There's room for improvement on In Limbo, but that doesn't hide the fact that this is an extremely gifted quartet to keep your eyes on.

Lava Engine plays a style atmospheric progressive rock/metal with clear influences from Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation, and softer sounding Opeth (something like their Damnation album). The end result is a pretty unique EP - In Limbo rarely falls into any of the genre clichés. The compositions are generally very strong, with tracks like "Drain Your Soul", "In Limbo", and "Ctrl Z" as highlights. This 30:17 EP never tires - In Limbo is consistent and thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. My main issue here lies in the general lack of truly outstanding moments on In Limbo - all of the music here is good without question, but only a select amount of it can be considered excellent. Hopefully Lava Engine can further develop their already impressive songwriting skills by the time of their next release. They're undoubtedly a talented group, and consistently terrific compositions should only come in time. Lava Engine shows their chops throughout In Limbo, but does so with dignity and without constant technical aerobics.

The production is surprisingly raw, but it leaves a bit to be desired. It's lacking a bit of a "punch" if you ask me.

In Limbo is a highly impressive EP that fans of progressive metal in the vein of Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, and Opeth should adore. I have a few complaints about the release, but it's still a highly enjoyable and promising EP worth 3.5 stars. I love stumbling upon an adventurous young act like this - these guys have some real potential for progressive metal greatness. It'll be interesting to see what the future holds for Lava Engine!

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