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TRACK LIST: 1. Ahead of the Echoes 2:46 2. Deepest Thoughts 5:55 3. Thin Ice 7:38 4. As Time Goes By 4:41 5. Relevant 5:31 6. As One 8:17 7. Promises 7:46 8. Give 3:50 9. For Now 12:28 LINEUP: Patrice Ц vocals Mario Ц guitars Jan Ц bass Pi Ц drums Job Ц keyboards
Prolusion. FEEDFORWARD, from the Netherlands, was formed back in 2002, and made their debut in 2007 with "Barefoot & Naked". A line-up alteration and five years later they return with their second full length effort "Upstream", self-released at the tail end of 2011 and distributed by Nightmare Records.
Analysis. When you have a five member strong metal band with a female vocalist, one tends to expect to hear a melodramatic variety of metal with operatic or semi-operatic vocals these days. And while many such constellations can be interesting, it's also a welcome change when the band in question strays off this path. As is the case with Feedforward, a band that has Dream Theater and Ultravox listed side by side in their list of artists that have influenced them. Although I suspect that the most revealing part of that list is a generic description, namely 80's metal. The music of this act is one that appears to reside at the borderline of progressive metal and regular metal, a rather accessible variety of the former and a fairly refined version of the latter, and as such one of those bands that some might feel are neither fowl nor fish, I guess. But they are fairly proficient at their game, I'll readily admit that. The harder edged part of their material owes a lot to power metal. Galloping riff constructions backed by careful keyboard backdrops, with two or more themes explored and a logical development to and from the various sequences explored, which arguably earns them a progressive tag. Nothing really advanced, and nothing of interest to those who has a need for truly challenging material, but well made and well performed excursions of a melodic and predictable nature, the powerful lead vocals of Patrice with a central role. There aren't too many of harder edged pieces however, as the band's repertoire is mainly made up of specimens of quite another nature: melody-based, ballad-oriented constructions, compositions with at least one recurring theme featuring dampened, mellow arrangements with acoustic guitar, piano or gentle keyboards providing the lead motif for the vocals to play upon. These are then paired off with one or more themes of a different nature, either power ballad inspired constructions featuring slow, drawn out riffs and keyboards or more occasionally harder edged ones closer to the few items on this disc with a distinct power metal tinge to them. Multiple themes are the rule for these excursions, which is why this band is referred to as progressive metal presumably. Those generally fond of progressive metal might want to note that the variety explored by Feedforward is of the most accessible variety though. The arrangements don't offer many surprises, keyboards contrasting guitars with some piano inserts as the main element of some sophistication, and the variety and complexity of the themes explored generally void of quirkier, truly adventurous approach, in style much closer to 80's heavy metal, the emphasis on melody and the central role of the lead vocals detail that fans of the melodic variety of this expression will find familiar. Personally I'll admit to not finding this album to be a truly inspiring one, but it is a good quality specimen of its kind. I can easily see it attracting the interest of many metal oriented music lovers.
Conclusion. Accessible, melody oriented progressive metal with plenty of space for the voice of lead vocalist Patrice to soar is what Feedforward has to offer on their second full length production "Upstream". An album I suspect will strike a chord amongst those fond of refined heavy metal just as much as those who tend to like the most accessible varieties of progressive metal.
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