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(72:36, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. In To 5:06 2. Lady of the Night 4:21 3. Skies in Your Eyes 4:27 4. Strangers Again 5:31 5. Don't Fall Asleep 10:11 6. Departure 0:44 7. Angels Arise 5:31 8. 10000 Years 5:54 9. Prelude 2:26 10. Ascention 9:49 11. Interlude 1:41 12. Descending 4:16 13. Conclusion 2:17 14. Kahanne 6:05 15. Piy Da Dna 4:09 LINEUP: Yann Zhenchak vocals; keyboards; violin, viola Vladimir Ivanov guitar Alexey Bogan guitar Vladislav Suldzin growl Alexey Zolotov drums Tihon Zolotov bass With: Larisa Simakovich vocals (1, 6, 9, 14) Ax Vinjhegin guitars (5, 9 to 13, 15) Roman Bogush flute (4) Sergey Osipov flute (14) Boris Zhenchak narration
Prolusion. The Belorussian ensemble IN SEARCH FOR was initially set up as a solo vehicle by composer and multi-instrumentalist Yann Zhenchak back in 2007. But as songs were written, developed and initially recorded by Yann himself, the idea to involve other musicians became more compelling. Eventually a band was formed, consisting of young and talented musicians, and several guest musicians were involved along the way too. The end result became this young outfit's debut album "Faith", initially released in Belarus in 2009 and reissued by Russias MALS Records the following year.
Analysis. In Search For is a type of band that it is hard to write about. It's a debut album; it's clear that most and probably all the people that have worked to create this project have invested a lot of their hearts and souls into it, and the musicians are all good instrumentalists. But the end result is one that just fails to inspire, and to boot I can't catalogue too many positives either. As I have a rather liberal and wide-encompassing taste in music it's rare that I find myself in such a situation and moreover it is one that I really dislike. With what might be observed to be faint praise I'll admit that there are a few good ideas to be found here, first and foremost in the centerpiece suite In Search of Faith (tracks 9 to 13). Handling the topic of faith placed inside a story setting used to exemplify certain aspects of this most often religious aspect of the personality is a nice touch. And the song parts of this 5-track epic work rather well too, one simplified prog metal epic and a briefer piece that comes across as a blend of The Flower Kings and Malmsteen's Rising Force pleasant affairs. But the three theatrical parts laying down the story framework are rather embarrassing. Dialog-driven cinematic creations with a science fiction theme, intensely marred by bad voice acting, cheesy effects and a dialog that I fear won't win over too many, mostly due to the unbelievable reactions explored. I may be harsh after indulging in the excellent TV series Babylon 5 for the past few weeks, but even so I think this has been among the most poor-quality examples of both voice acting and theatrical dialog I have encountered. The 50 or so minutes covered by the additional 10 tracks that make up this production aren't too inspiring either, I have to admit, although all the songs are well performed and cover a nice width of stylistic expressions too. The AOR-tinged Lady of the Night, just slightly reminiscent of Aldo Nova, and the overly long but otherwise pleasant ballad Kahanne (Love) represent the gentler parts of this album, the latter featuring flute, violin, symphonic backdrop and operatic female lead vocals that give it something of an art rock vibe. Don't Fall Asleep is a good example of the progressive metal aspirations of this band, albeit much closer to Malmsteen's Rising Force than Dream Theater in sound as well as expression. None of the tracks managed to convince me musically, however. The lack of subtle, sophisticated features that might manage to lift these pieces to a higher level is a negative asset along with the accented vocals and the tendency from one of the guitarists to hit neo-classical solo runs that comes across as much more of an exercise in technical skills than as a tool to convey a mood or emphasize an atmosphere.
Conclusion. "Faith" is a sincere and honest album that offers quite a lot of diversity, but for me it is found lacking in terms of finesse and identity. The flawed centerpiece aside, the songs are competently performed by competent musicians, and while the compositional aspect of this disc isn't too impressive according to my standards, there's nothing really wrong with them either, other than the fact that none of them manage to make a great impression. Personally, I'd suspect that young metal fans who would like to explore a metal act keen on adding in art rock-inspired motifs might be a key audience for this band. But they as well as others should take the time to sample this material prior to a possible purchase.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 5, 2011
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