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(53:38, Hands of Blue Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Mind Slavery 5:59 2. Nowhere 5:07 3. 3 Logic Dead 4:37 4. Be Machine 5:23 5. Keep Marching 6:23 6. Virtual Fuhrer 5:18 7. Colours 6:23 8. Dharma 4:36 9. Sickness 6:31 10. Straight into the Odd 3:21 LINEUP: Sebastian Wischermann – vocals Mischa – guitars; b/vox Adrian Weiss – guitars Marcel Willnat – bass S Bosanac – drums
Prolusion. FORCES AT WORK is a quintet from Germany that has existed since 2000. “Straight” is only its first full-length album, however.
Analysis. Although the press kit of this ten-track CD lists jazz and classical among the band’s musical influences, I haven’t detected elements of either of the genres here, and while there are plenty of improvisations, all of them are classically rock ones (like those in mid-‘90s Dream Theater, for instance). Similar in scope to Iced Earth’s “The Dark Saga”, Canvas Solaris’s “Cortical Tectonics” and “The Painter’s Palette” by Ephel Duath, this album is largely uniform in style, the band having well crafted a powerful balance of the songwriting and quality Metal or, to be more precise, a complex, highly progressive blend of Techno-, Death- and Black Metal, albeit there are also elements of guitar Art-Rock on tracks like The Mind Slavery, Be Machine, Keep Marching, Colours and Sickness. Well, not only on these in fact, as two more compositions, 3 Logic Dead and Straight into the Odd, also suggest that style – for the most part and throughout, respectively. The last of these is the sole instrumental here and is one that both actively and effectively deploys an acoustic guitar, some parts of which are performed in the flamenco style. Nowhere and Dharma are both similar to the first five of the said pieces (check out the dizzying complexity of each of them, so fast and intense that it will make your ears clap their hands :-), but on each of them the band at times additionally goes doomy-symphonic, paying homage to mid-‘90s Tiamat in a way. On Virtual Fuhrer, in turn, almost everything is piled on top of razor-sharp riffing, which is thrashy without being updated. All in all, weaving shred guitars, acrobatic bass and thundering drums, twists and turns in directions are the norm here, making it for a very interesting CD that takes a few listens to uncover all of its many details. The melodies are really deep and are everywhere, the music ever-changing outside the vocal sections. While the songs are for the most part extremely heavy and dynamic, the guitar and bass work is so complex and acrobatic that one can’t help but be impressed. Furious, mostly rapidly played guitars weave intricate patterns in the classic prog-metal manner, while bass lines run rampant and pull it all together. On the album’s vocal angle we get a trial (traditional, growling and screaming) singing of Sebastian Wischermann that – especially within the choral parts – has the same epic scope as the one on the above Iced Earth release, the man appearing to be a chameleon vocalist, with ease jumping from style to style. On some of the tracks, however, he is at times too keen on one of those – either growling or screaming, to be more exact. What also excludes me from rating the album as a complete masterwork is that on two of the tracks, namely Keep Marching and Straight into the Odd, the band quotes the famous, yet very shabby already, circus music melody first used (or invented, not sure) by Three Dog Night.
Conclusion. Overall, the album is a tight, complex collection of compositions that will probably never fail to impress with its dense, layered sounds. It comes highly recommended to those who accept Prog-Metal in all of its various manifestations, the oddest/most eccentric ones included. Top-10-2011
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