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Track List: 1. Beginning To End 20:20 2. Awake 8:51 3. Confessions of the Grim Reaper 8:40 4. Wasteland 5:07 5. Zumanthum 13:45 All music: by Overhead. All lyrics: by Alex Keskitalo. Line-up: Tarmo Simonen - piano & keyboards Jaakko Kettunen - guitars Alex Keskitalo - vocals; flute Janne Pylkkonen - bass Markus Wallasvaara - drums & percussion Recorded by Overhead at "Head Over" studios. Produced & mixed by Simonen & Kettunen in Helsinki.
Preamble. "Zumanthum" is the first official album by the Finnish band Overhead, which has existed since the autumn of 1999. This is a concept album of the human mind and, according to the band, the meaning of Zumanthum includes infinity, another dimension, the co-existence of life and death, an impossible angle, etc.
The Album. All the compositional and performance aspects of the five tracks, presented by Overhead on "Zumanthum", are truly inspired and highly inventive. Although purely instrumental arrangements cover about two thirds of the album, all the vocally instrumental ones are here brilliant as well. Alex Keskitalo is a very gifted singer-chameleon and he easily changes his voice according to the 'lyrical' events on "Zumanthum". And by the way, Alex's English is very good, and his lyrics are quite ambitious and profound. Overall, the music on this album represents Modern Symphonic Art-Rock, which is of such a high quality that, like most of the Classic Symphonic Art-Rock albums of the heyday of Progressive's glory, is worthy of best epithets. Which, of course, is regardless that Overhead's music is heavier than that by any of the bands worked within the framework of Classic Art-Rock in the 1970s. Among the five tracks on "Zumanthum", there is one instrumental composition, Wasteland (4), which, at the same time, is the only track on the album that is completely out of its predominant stylistics. Which, in its turn, is about a complex Modern Symphonic Art-Rock where, though, the presence of elements of Prog-Metal is more than merely noticeable. Back to Wasteland, consisting of slow, yet, diverse and almost constantly developing arrangements, this is a piece of Classical Music with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock rather than vice versa. Both of the 8-minute songs: Awake and Confessions of the Grim Reaper (2 & 3) were for the most part performed up-tempo and even fast. These two are richer in highly virtuosi solos of all the instruments involved here, sudden changes of musical dimensions, varied structural crush 'n' bangs, etc, than any other track on the album. Also, these probably are the heaviest compositions on the album - at least on the whole. Though the second of them contains the passages of acoustic guitar that are amazingly interwoven with other musical textures. Both of the epic compositions on "Zumantha": the 20-minute Beginning To End and the 13-minute title track of the album (1 & 5) are rich not only in passages, but also in solos of an acoustic guitar. The parts of organ (along with those of piano and synthesizer, of course) are present only on the aforementioned Confessions of the Grim Reaper. Apart from the parts of Rock instruments, only those of piano and flute are featured on each song here. The interplay between passages of an acoustic guitar and those of piano, that, apart from a wide variety of the other arrangements, are available on both of the album's epics, sounds especially magical. Finally, it needs to be said that already the album's opening track, Beginning To End, features such a large number of different themes, frequently changing each other, that it would be enough for some Neo band to compile a whole album from them.
Summary. By the way, after listening to "Zumanthum" for the first time, I have once again looked into the CD booklet to make sure that this album is really Overhead's debut. While listening to it, I had a strong impression that I'm hearing a very mature band, all the members of which had the knowledge of how and where they should go: a path of Progressive long before they reached "Zumanthum". If you wish to hear something really new within the framework of Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, just check it out. This outstandingly tasteful, very complex and impressive album was composed and performed by real ProGfessionals and has a highly original and completely independent sound.
VM: February 7, 2003
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