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(63:52, Gentle Art of Music Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Rearrangement of the Gods 10:46 2. Ambitious 9:12 3. Beautiful Again 6:42 4. Until the Last Light Breaks In 10:53 5. Let Me Down 8:21 6. Sad Today 3:46 7. Finally 14:12 LINEUP: Alexander Gohs vocals Markus Maichel keyboards Julian Kellner el. & ac. guitars Christian Eichlinger drums, percussion With: Bernd Schonegge bass Sebastian Kister bass Dave Meros (Spocks Beard) bass Markus Steffen (Sieges Even) guitars &: Two more guitarists + four additional singers
Prolusion. The German band DANTE was formed back in 2006, initially as a project formed by the band members Markus Berger and Markus Maichel, but slowly expanded to become a full-fledged band. They self-released their debut album "The Inner Circle" in 2007, and have continued releasing new albums at a steady pace ever since, in addition to being a fairly active live unit. "When We Were Beautiful" is their fourth studio album, and was released through the German label Gentle Art of Music in 2016.
Analysis. One of the challenges for this fine German band for the last few years is, most likely, how to keep going, following the all too early passing of founding member Markus Berger, who passed away shortly after the release of their third album "November Red" in 2013. As the band doesn't have an official bassist in their line-up, three years later may indicate something about the emotions attached to that tragic event. Resolving the recording process for this album was done by way of guest musicians, and it seems the band got a taste for involving outsiders when witnessing the number of guest musicians that eventually contributed to this CD. But this is a CD that still sounds very much like the Dante I recall from their first two CDs. Their chosen turf is classic progressive metal, with a few distinct nods in the direction of Dream Theater, but perhaps not quite as much of it this time around as on earlier albums. Still fans of Dream Theater in general and their classic albums in particular won't have to listen all that long before they will encounter some familiar sounding elements. Personally I find Dante to be at their best when working out from a foundation of crunchy, vibrant and dominant guitar riffs, both when they are more or less the sole driving element, but also when accompanied by suitably dramatic or majestic keyboard textures, as well as when they use the good, old guitar riff and organ combination. This aspect of their sound is a recurring feature throughout, although it does alternate with tighter and firmer arrangements with a dampened, smoother guitar sound and the keyboards given a more prominent role in establishing key melodies and as the tension-inducing element. Some of the finest and most intriguing moments of the CD are actually some of those keyboards-dominated sections, most of all the instrumental ones. The lead vocals are, at least occasionally, something of a weak point on this album. Not to a great extent, but I do get the impression that vocalist Gohs does struggle with some limitations here and there in some of the more demanding passages. Second track Ambitious is also something of a weak point, where the verse parts come across as contrived and somewhat abrasive to my ears, in a manner that made me mentally file this composition in the "too ambitious" department. On the other hand, guest vocalist Bishop does a magnificent job on the fourth track, Until the Last Light Breaks In, to the point of this piece being the clear standout track on the album.
Conclusion. Those who have followed the German band Dante over the years should find "When We Were Beautiful" to be a fine addition to their album history. Well made progressive metal working out from a foundation that generally can be described as a one closely aligned with early 90s Dream Theater, this is a style and type of progressive metal that has a wide general appeal, and this album merits a check by those with an affection for this specific take on progressive metal.
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