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Metamorphosis - 2005 - "Then All Was Silent"

(63 min, 'M' & Galileo)

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  The Birth 7:03
2.  When Kenny Was Sad 7:58
3.  Springtime 4:48
4.  Beyond the Wall 6:45
5.  Confinement 4:16
6.  The Killing Machines 4:27
7.  The Secret Room 3:31
8.  Revelation 2:23
9.  The Book 4:22
10. The Escape 5:53
11. Then All Was Silent 10:45

All tracks: by Schenk. 
Produced by Grillon & Schenk.


Jean-Pierre Schenk - vocals; keyboards; drums
Giova Esposito - bass, lead guitars
David Grillon - guitars 
Milena Zaharieva - flute (10)

Prolusion. The Swiss project METAMORPHOSIS appeared only three years ago, but already has three official releases to their credit: "After All These Years" (2003), "Nobody Cares" (2004) and "Then All Was Silent", which is the hero of this review. The lineup hasn't changed since their previous album, and Milena Zaharieva is still here too, playing flute on one track, as usual.

Analysis. On their new album, Metamorphosis continues to revisit the paths paved by Pink Floyd and Eloy, which will hardly be a novelty for you, dear readers, but is a fact. I don't know whether they planned to occupy the niche left by those Space Rock heroes, but it can be said with certainty now that they have done it. While there is nothing specifically new here, in a general musical context, I liked this album some better than its predecessor, due to the lesser number of highly derivative songs and those with undeveloped instrumental arrangements. Here, there are only three out of the eleven tracks that I decided to excoriate. Springtime and The Secret Room are pretty simple ballad-like songs, which, moreover, sounds like a hybrid of Us & Them by Pink Floyd and Eloy's Time to Turn. The title track, closing the album, is overextended in general and features too few varied musical events to justify its lengthy duration (about 11 minutes). I am also not that satisfied with Revelation, taking the eighth position. The only instrumental here, this short piece, representing the slow interplay between passages of synthesizer and guitar solos, isn't bad, but it would've been better for the entire picture had it been used as an intro to the album. The Book is also a ballad, but is neither sugary nor derivative. It features an excellent acoustic guitar solo, running all through it, and is rather complex in general. On all of the other tracks the amount of instrumental sections noticeably exceeds that of the vocal-based ones. Each, without exception, possesses everything necessary to be considered a classic of contemporary symphonic Space Rock and is on par with most of the latest works by the band's benefactors. (Certainly, I am referring to "The Division Bell" by Pink Floyd and "Ocean II: The Answer" by Eloy.) The main supplier of original decisions to the arrangement on this album is Giova Esposito, who appears as a highly masterful guitar player here, elaborating his own unique style. He really shines in particular on The Birth and The Killing Machines, amongst some other songs, while Jean-Pierre Schenk's keyboard work is remarkable on The Escape, Beyond the Wall and When Kenny Was Sad. The latter features Mellotron-laden arrangements reminding me much of the classic Art-Rock era, though the other two are also rich in vintage symphonic textures. However, the absolute winner on the album is Confinement, a very original and compelling composition, belonging more to Cathedral/Doom Metal than to the album's primary style. While recalling Harry Kapeliaris's "Journey to Light" and some other of the recent releases, I inevitably arrive at the thought that the appeal to a heavy Prog stands many contemporary artists in a good stead, regardless of their principal musical preferences.

Conclusion. "Then All Was Silent" is probably the best-balanced album by Jean-Pierre Schenk and his project. Indeed, it may be their best album to date, though the difference between it and the previous two is minimal. I consider all the positive aspects of the band's creative output proceeding from the role it plays in the absence of the genre's legendary stalwarts. Nevertheless (not to degrade Schenk's efforts), I'd like to hear Metamorphosis create a stronger musical identity: of their own.

VM: June 24, 2005

Metamorphosis - 2005 - "Then All Was Silent"


Prolusion. METAMORPHOSIS is a Swiss band, the brainchild of Jean-Pierre Schenk, the composer of their three albums: "When All Was Silent" (2005), "Nobody Cares" (2004) and "After All These Years" (2003). "When All Was Silent" is a concept album about future, just past the turn of some century, when one world power dominates the planet, seeking to spread democracy. Children are cloned and raised to be killing machines as part of this export process. One of the clones, though, is different; Kenny is moved by his emotions and intellect. His thinking and feeling leads to many unanswered questions and, as you have probably guessed, results in conflict with the authorities.

Analysis. This is quiet, atmospheric prog in the tradition of Pink Floyd. The music is well balanced between keyboard, guitar and vocals. The mood is pensive, melancholy and brooding, setting the tone for nearly the entire album. Much of the mood is set by Schenk's vocal styling which sounds as though he might possibly be on the brink of tears throughout the album. The greatest stylistic departure is Confinement, which has a much heavier feel, delving into metal guitar riffs backing the vocals, though with each refrain the guitar softens and the mood lapses back to that of the rest of the album, returning to a metal mood with each verse. Most hopeful, musically, is The Secret Room. This song begins with a bright acoustic guitar intro, joined by drums and organ before the vocals begin. The chorus sounds truly cheerful, though the lyrics belie the mood. More than once, the music and lyrics of Schenk's tale do not match, as this happens again in the title track, Then All Was Silent. As the story is reaching its climax, the music almost strolls along and could as well have been a song about someone taking their morning walk, rather than describing "lethal gun-ships" flying over a landscape in search of their target.

Conclusion. Musically, this is tried and true atmospheric/space rock. Though well played, the overall effect of the album is one of sameness and a pervading sense of melancholy. The musicianship is not to be faulted, but rather the fault lies in the song writing, a lack of compositional variety. Schenk fails to build any sort of suspense or excitement musically, while having written a story that should be told with excitement, told with relish, but instead is told with blandness. (Just imagine a band like ELP working with a storyline like this!) So often in progressive rock it is the music that outshines the lyrics, but in this case I would say it is the other way round.

KW: June 24, 2005

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