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(71:48, Som Do-Darma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. OMT 6:59 2. 6000 8:16 3. Bunkers & Bankers 8:06 4. Reflected 5:55 5. All Rights Removed 5:51 6. Transcendence Inc 6:01 7. Unnamed 1:30 8. This Grace 9:27 9. Losing Track of Time 6:27 10. Down to the Apex 4:49 11. Lead Off 8:27 LINEUP: Felipe Schaffer – vocals Andre Marengo – guitar Danilo Pilla – guitar Caio Teixeira – drums Leonardo Milani – bass Hugo Bertolaccini – keyboards, accordion, melodica
Prolusion. The Brazilian sextet DEVENTTER was formed back in 2001, motivated by Hugo Bertolaccini and Andre Gabriotti's shared taste in progressive rock. As the band project evolved, they opted for progressive metal as their expression of choice, and made their debut with the full-length CD "The 7th Dimension" in 2007. "Lead On" is their sophomore effort.
Analysis. Brazil has produced its fair share of high-quality metal acts over the years, progressive and non-progressive alike. It would appear that its national metal scene is a most vibrant one and it is most certainly productive. Presumably gaining a reputation in a market that appears to be as fiercely competitive as it is prolific can't be easy, and gaining a foothold in the international scene is something of an uphill struggle these days too, as the number of artists vying for the attention of music lovers is larger than ever. Personally I don't see their latest production as the vehicle to establish this fine band in either marketplace – a step on the way for sure, but not the step. Deventter's take on progressive metal at this stage is one heralding classic heavy metal and first-generation thrash just as much as the Dream Theater school of progressive metal. The guitars are the central instruments throughout, and their chosen approach appears to revolve around massive, dark-toned staccato riffs. These are set in circulating, repetitive themes, with careful circulating keyboard textures on top. The rhythms tend to veer towards the simplistic and repetitive too, and the staccato rhythmical bursts this results in actually made me think of Anthrax and their hardcore-tinged take on thrash metal on occasion. Vocalist Schaffer has a strong but slightly anonymous delivery: he doesn't overpower the songs through sheer force of personality nor does he have a highly singular and original delivery. He's a good metal vocalist basically, where the main impression I'm left with is that he sounds young and perhaps somewhat naive at times. These core elements shape up to form a massive, dark and dramatic form of progressive metal. Theme variations and inserts see to it that none of the songs go stale or become too repetitive, and a fair few ballads lighten the general mood quite nicely. And while I'm generally most inclined to like gloom-laden heavy music, for me the ballads represent the major strengths of this creation, with second-to-last track Down to the Apex the most compelling of these. Dark-tinged clean guitar licks and accordion combine with the lead vocals in a compelling manner, the contrasting sounds matching each other and harmonizing to craft something of a unique atmosphere. The metal-oriented creations in general appear to be less impressive, with the cyclic themes of Transcendence Inc as the most interesting of these in my personal opinion.
Conclusion. "Lead On" is a steady workout that maintains a generally good quality from start to finish, but is arguably lacking in individual creations that manage to make a grand impression. I suspect that a key audience for this act will be metal fans with a taste for the sophisticated to a greater extent than progressive rock fans with a taste for metal, and I'd advise those who belong to the former to check out this production if they also have a tendency to enjoy material with staccato repetitive patterns and something of a dramatic twist to it in general.
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