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Arilyn - 2005 - "Virtual Reality"

(62 min, Quixote)

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Beta 0:47
2.  Chaos 5:51
3.  Rise & Sorrow 6:05
4.  Reality 8:00
5.  Run 5:24
6.  Fall From Here 5:12
7.  Unreal 6:24
8.  Break Out 5:29
9.  Time Went Backwards 5:51
10. Virtual Reality 6:23
11. Encourage Me 8:05


Christian Kulbs - vocals; bass
Jurgen Mossgraber - keyboards
Jurgen Kaletta - guitars
Christof Doll - drums
Sebastian Mettenheimer - sax 

Prolusion. ARILYN is a relatively young band from Germany, whose debut effort "Tomorrow Never Comes" from three years ago has made a very auspicious impression in the Space Rock lovers circle. "Virtual Reality" is their second album.

Analysis. I have no idea why the band still continues calling their music Space Rock, because their new album has absolutely nothing to do with that style. Not counting the very short intro Beta, which is inseparable from the second track, the CD is made up of ten songs, all coming with a solid (both thematically and in size) lyrical content and, thus, massive vocal palettes. The first two songs, Chaos and Rise & Sorrow, are built around meaty guitar riffs, whose heterogeneous, yet fixed, cyclical structure makes them equidistant from both a traditional Hard Rock and genuine Prog-Metal. The standard couplet-refrain vocal scheme in the presence of numerous repetitions and the absence of virtual instrumental sections on each also testify to their belonging to Neo Prog-Metal, which, though, is well executed and is free of derivative features everywhere on the album. The 8-minute Reality would've been a traditional melodic Art-Rock ballad had it not featured a rather long instrumental section with the quirky saxophone improvisation at the fore. Then follows Run, which finds the band having returned to the primary style, but with some more interesting approach than before. Although still rarely exceeding the framework of Neo Prog / Metal, each of the following songs, starting with Fall from Here and up to the title track, is richer in symphonic patterns and interesting instrumental arrangements and is better than the preceding one in general. Unreal is notable for effective contrasts between raw guitar riffs and melodically pronounced vocal lines, while Break Out, Time Went Backwards and Virtual Reality are just the best tracks on the album, each featuring quite large-scaled and truly expressive instrumental maneuvers, with all of the instruments credited being actively involved, save saxophone. Due to the steady rise of the music's complexity in the album's second half, I expected the band would reach a progressive apogee on the last and the longest track, Encourage Me, but it turned out to be closer to Reality than to the other songs. Besides, the sax solo is brief here and was placed alone at the very end of the track, being separated from the song's principal content by the sounds of silence-in-emptiness:-).

Conclusion. "Virtual Reality" is a pretty decent album, although it can be highly recommended exclusively to fans of Neo Prog / Metal. Of course, there is no hidden meaning in this remark, nothing bad in general. The Progressive Rock audience consists not only of the adventurous, and each category of the listeners should have their niche. Just as King Crimson assert with their latest EP, be happy with what you have to be happy with.

PS I've lately learned of the existence of Neo Jazz! Serious Jazz lovers unanimously assert that it's a dull and pretty meaningless music. I would never say the same about Neo Prog, although I am certainly not the one who enjoys everything made in this style.

VM: December 7, 2005

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