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(47:48, Generation Prog Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Holy Mother 7:07 2. The Illumination Mask 7:47 3. Ice 4:55 4. The Victim Cult 7:59 5. What Falls Away 20:00 LINEUP: Jay Lamm – vocals; keyboards; bass, guitars Keith Warman – guitars; keyboards Rory Faciane – drums, percussion With: Brooke Mayfield – vocals
Prolusion. The US band CEA SERIN was formed back in 1997, and following some initial demo productions, they released their debut album "Where Memories Combine" in 2004, an outing that was met with a lot of interest and acclaim from reviewers and fans alike. Then the band disappeared, their promised second album becoming something of a progressive metal vaporware item, bordering a mythological entity. Talked about and anticipated, if it ever should appear. Come 2014 and the band unexpectedly reappears, releasing their second album "The Vibrant Sound of Bliss and Decay" through the fledgling German label Generation Prog Records.
Analysis. To establish this straight away: this isn't Cea Serin's highly anticipated second album in truth. At least according to the liner notes, this CD was planned as a stopgap release between the band's first and second full-length studio production, and is basically an EP that has been expanded with a few early compositions and a cover tune. Which doesn't mean that this is a production without merit by any means, just that this is more of a chapter 1,5 than the true second chapter in the production history of Cea Serin. The name of the game for this threesome is progressive metal, and on the opening two cuts we're treated to what I presume is the oldest of the material by the band, having their particular go at this style. It's an interesting blend of quirky riff constructions and driven, compelling passages with more of a thrash metal and power metal tinge to them, with vocals ranging from deep growls to controlled, powerful melodic in delivery, a constant array of alternating sequences and quite a lot to keep track of, as the songs crunch, jump and slither their way from start to finish. Not overly technical or quirky, but with a lot going on, most of it fairly loud and powerful. Compared to many other metal bands the guitar riffs themselves are actually rather tight and compact, so those with a deep fascination for the monster riff walls will have to look elsewhere to fill their needs. Midways through this CD we have a ballad, Ice, where Cea Serin gets to highlight their gentler side, giving this Sarah MacLachlan original a fine rendition. A rendering that also serves as the barrier between the old and the new, as I suppose. At least my impression is that the following two tracks are of a more recent date than the opening pair, although I could easily be mistaken on that detail. The Victim Cult and What Falls Away are the compositions that conclude the disc, and while both of them follow similar paths and sounds as the opening pair, especially the concluding 20-minute epic What Falls Away, which showcases a band that is more sophisticated, adds a few additional quirks to their repertoire and generally comes across as a more advanced composition. There's obviously more room in a massive behemoth of a song for gentler intermissions of plucked guitars, more space to showcase bass lines that appear to have more of a jazz-tinged style, atmospheric sequences of an overall gentler nature and a higher degree of variety in general. It's an impressive piece of work in its own right, and a creation that indicates that this is a band that is still vital, still creative and still developing a high-quality talent in the art of making good and interesting progressive metal.
Conclusion. Cea Serin has returned following a ten year long hiatus with a second studio album that should build quite nicely upon their reputation as a high-quality progressive metal band. Tight, quirky and vibrant progressive metal, unafraid to include whatever the musicians desire, be it compelling power metal galloping sequences, more aggressive thrash metal escapades or, indeed, a ballad penned by Sarah MacLachlan. A production that merits a check by those with a general interest in progressive metal, and especially those with a taste for a vintage variety, adventurous take on the genre.
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