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(55:58, ‘Object Permanence’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Angels and Demons 6:52 2. Pride 5:06 3. Forever 7:45 4. Xi 2:36 5. Redemption 3:39 6. Rise 8:17 7. Transcendance 6:52 8. Aware 6:54 9. Return 7:57 LINEUP: Michael DeMichele – vocals; guitars, bass; keyboards Simon Janis – drums
Prolusion. The US band OBJECT PERMANENCE is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Michael DeMichele. He released hs first album using this artistic moniker back in 2003 and a second one in 2006, both of them on the now defunct label Fossil Records. "Forever" is the third and most recent album by this one-man band, on this CD supplemented by drummer Janis. It was released in 2010.
Analysis. The manner in which I got to know about this band was actually fairly interesting. Back in May I attended ROSfest in the US, and went there with a good friend of mine I had been staying with for most of the time I was in the United States. Amongst many issues we talked about was how he had started discussing music with his local doctor, and to the surprise of my friend the doctor in question had actually known what progressive rock was. During the conversation he had with his doctor he also revealed that he had released an album. The doctor in question was none other than Michael DeMichele, whom I met at ROSfest myself. One result of that meeting that I got a copy of his CD with a humble request about possibly reviewing it. I will have to be honest enough to admit that this is a case where the artist in question better sticks to his day job. He'll earn more as a doctor than as a musician anyhow, I suspect, but as a creative artist there are some weaknesses he needs to sort out if he is to attract a substantial audience for his music. "Forever" isn't anywhere near an abysmal album, but it does feature some major weak points that will limit its reach substantially. The nine songs on this disc can broadly be divided into two groups. The minority of songs are gentler, light toned constructions relying on compact, toned down riffs or light undistorted guitar motifs supplemented by keyboards and effects to craft a mood and atmosphere inspired by bands such as Porcupine Tree. Fairly well made songs, with a nice and keen sense of how to construct keyboard and guitar arrangements where the instruments supplement each other, and in the case of the brief, enticing piece Xi this part of his repertoire is explored fairly well. The majority of songs revolves around dark, gritty riff constructions with more of a basis in old school underground heavy metal in overall sound, but set up and executed in a somewhat more sophisticated manner. A brief nod in the direction of Canadian masters Rush is a feature on Aware, otherwise the compositions are somewhat more generic, but sporting keyboard and organ overlays in the manner of progressive metal bands, some alterations in pace and intensity as well as the occasional light toned, gentle interlude. If you enjoy gritty, dark toned guitars there's quite a bit to enjoy on this composition, and DeMichele is fairly clever in using keyboards to both supplement and contrast the dominating guitars too. Title track Forever is the best of the bunch, as it contains quite a few more alterations in pace and intensity than the rest of the songs. The major weakness throughout are the lead vocals. DeMichele isn't a naturally talented singer, and he isn't skilled enough or trained enough as a vocalist to be able to employ his vocals in a manner that hides his weaknesses in that department. Mix and production don't manage to smooth over those either, a key detail that will alienate quite a few listeners, I suspect. There's a somewhat lo-fi atmosphere throughout that indicates that a better producer might have improved the end result quite a bit, and at last drummer Janis doesn't have the quality to elevate any of the compositions by way of virtuousi performances either. The drums are just a bit too nice and steady for this kind of music, at least as far as my own personal taste is concerned. All in all this will make "Forever" a CD that will appeal to a fairly limited crowd of people, I suspect, even if many of the basic ideas and concepts are fairly interesting, at least to my ears.
Conclusion. Object Permanence's third album "Forever" is a production that does come with quite a few weak points, with lead vocals as a major one and mix, production and drums as minor points. Slow to mid-paced compositions revolve around gritty guitar riffs with a possible origin in underground 80's metal and further references back to the likes of Black Sabbath, alternating with a token few escapades inspired by bands such as Porcupine Tree is what we're served. Both types of songs are fairly basic in nature, but if you enjoy the guitar sound and the manner in which keyboards and effects are employed as both supplemental and contrasting elements this is a fairly nice album. However, due to the weaknesses described one that merits a check before any purchasing decision is made, as the overall appeal of this disc will be towards a limited audience.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 5, 2013
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