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Memories of a Hope Vaguest Dreams Piercing Time (Memories) (Memories)I love The 2 Beauties Forcefed (Memories) Ugly Face A Heaven In Hell's Despair Hvost Memories
All music by Rouben Kazariyan except: track 9 - by Nordream & A. Chernova. and the Ugly Face theme was taken from "Flesh And the Power" (by Death's Chuck Shuldiner). Arrangements by Nordream. All lyrics by Rouben Kazariyan, except the following: excerpts on tracks 2 & 4 were taken from "The Protest Against ife" online diary by Carey Ong, quotes in intro of track 6 were taken from Holy Bible - proverbs 29:18, excerpts from November 19, 1970's testimony of Charles Manson are used on track 8.
Recorded and engineered by Eugene Trushin at "SNS Records" studio in autumn 1999. Mixed by E. Trushin and Igor Lobanov at the same studio in July 2000. Mastered by Sergey Ryhin at the same studio. Produced and designed by I. Lobanov.
Line-up: Rouben Kazariyan - guitars; Julia Chistyakova - keyboards; Michael Kholobov - bass; Stas Koulikov - drums; Oleg Alimov - lead vocals (a special guest).
Prologue. Fresh and strong Russian Prog-Metal invasion into the quite settled (in respect of real novelty) international (Western, as Russians say, as well as millions of Western people call hundreds of nations living in the ex-USSR, - often including even Baltic people, - just Russians) movement of this genre should have already been at least noticed if Moscow's "Valiant" label had, in my view, a deeper knowledge about a distribution strategy or, maybe, a proper distribution deal now. These are just my thoughts that, perhaps, have nothing to do with real tactics, etc of "Valiant". Nordream's "Memories Progression" (the latter word has hardly to do with the Journal of the Genre) is already at least the eighth album released by "Valiant" (and there are lots of albums ready in the label's arsenal for future releases). The only other ProGduction I've so far received from this label was Specter's debut album reviewed by me over a month ago, so I am very sorry for the delay with this review.
The Album. As well as Specter and the majority (if not all) of the "Valiant" label based bands, Nordream prefers English lyrics, so the band's purpose to reach a more or less large international audience is clear. Especially since Oleg Alimov's (who is quite a famous Metal singer in Russia) English pronunciation is perhaps even better than at least in most of Eastern Europeans singers. The music of Nordream is, maybe, a bit simpler (which is always very relative in real Prog-Metal, though) than Specter's, but absolutely free of any obvious influences. I don't know what means "Forcefed" (Memories), but since Russian is my first language it's not hard to understand the meaning of "Hvost" (Memories). "Hvost" in the title of album's last song is the same as "Tail", so the title of this piece should sound correctly so: End Memories. (Thus, not only British Thieves' Kitchen use "Argot", which actually is the title of their brand new album I reviewed just recently). Before I 'attack' with a pure positivism (if you think it's a clear antagonism to say "attack with positivism", - sorry, - I'm just (a Southern!) Russian and English is my second language; as for Uzbek, - I'd call it my third language with reservations) the music Nordream performs first I'd like to foul (just a bit) the producing of the album. We have on it the four songs: tracks 1, 3, 4 & 6 (each sounds approx. 6-7 minutes) and also five instrumentals: tracks 2, 5, 7, 8, 9 (each sounds approx. 2-3 minutes, except number 8, which exceeds 7 minutes). Since all the four songs sound within relatively close 'borders of time', let's call those four of five instrumentals with the similar length of time typical for this specific album. In this case we have a disproportionate placing of the compositions (in general) on the album - when songs Piercing Time and I Love run together, as well as the three instrumentals run one after another in the end of album, including such a prolonged one (maybe, originally it was conceived as a song?) as A Heaven In Hell's Despair (oh, in English this title sounds not too correctly: as if "Hell's Despair" is the same as "Hell's Hole", for example, so actually it should sound as Heaven's in Hell's Despair). It's clear that no one will regard the two too short narration-quotes in the very beginning of instrumentals 2 and 8 as songs, so the disproportion of placing exactly the songs and instrumentals on the album is obvious, and this is the only drawback I've found rating the album not a masterpiece, but just an excellent album. Talking about the high-quality progressive works, to me, production of such (as if witting) masterpieces (?-OK!) is practically as important as the compositional and performing quality of such (witting) masterpieces. So, I'd place the compositions of "Memories Progression" in the following order: Back again to Nordream's music, first of all I find it highly original and fresh (that's for sure since I haven't found there any obvious influences, as I said above) despite the fact that all is done here within the framework of traditional Classic (not Neo!) Prog-Metal. As for songs, vocal lines and instrumental arrangements change (closer to) kaleidoscopically. While the vocal themes have some certain borders (as always yet with few exceptions: of course, with mighty King Diamond at the head of them), instrumental palettes are incredibly diverse and often very unpredictable - even within the same song. Masterly solos and real electric guitar solo passages backed with heavy, mostly thrashing yet always variegated guitar riffs (moves!) often disappear so unexpectedly as if they vanish from... Hell to Heaven where only angelic piano passages sound. After an attempt to adapt themselves to a completely different reality, trying to play in harmony with already virtuosic piano or synth passages, aggressive guitar riffs and solos together with gentle motives of keyboards as a result create some Heavenly Hellish sound. But after the call of old 'hellish' friends in the face of extremely aggressive yet very artful (i.e. full of Art) and intricate work of the rhythm-section all guitars and anything related to them (like solos, etc) are back into the world of theirs, etc. The only long instrumental is probably the most intricate and aggressive composition on the album (though, not without a few flirts between 'hellish warriors' and 'heavenly maidens'), whereas all the four 'traditional' tunes represent the most 'successful' harmony between 'good' and 'evil' on this album, especially since in the beginning of the majority of these pieces 'heavenly' things often similar to the ones depicted above, whereas after not too long attempts to play as a nice heavenly-hellish pair, aggressive forces are back closer to the end.
Summary. To me, quite an original way of composing the "Memories Progression" album has at least slight philosophic feel. So I would be more than just amazed if lyrics would be corresponded exactly to this unique musical 'battlefield'. Unfortunately, sensible yet too one-sided lyrics on this album are just crushing a conceptual musical 'scheme'. So I guess the latter was most likely created just unwittingly. Disconnection of musical and lyrical conceptions (disconception?) here 'ate' a half of the rating star additionally to another half that has been eaten earlier by disproportion of placing the compositions on the album which is a result of the final stage of its producing (disproduction?). Perhaps, many of Prog-Metal lovers after they read my review on "Memories Progression" and then listen to the album will consider me just one who found quarrel in a straw. Maybe, I am a kind of dragon since I've found too wrong drawbacks to lower a rating of this masterpiece? Well, if so, I'm just sorry... yet not for there is no such a word as "masterpiece" in my review.
VM. May 29, 2001
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