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(64:17 / Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Threnody 7:08 2. Synesthesia 5:30 3. Nightfall 4:47 4. Cryptoendolith 1:34 5. Temple In Time-I 6:18 6. Temple In Time-II 2:45 7. Temple In Time-III 2:57 8. Temple In Time-IV 3:43 9. Temple In Time-V 7:14 10. Android Dreams 5:03 11. Aphrodite 8:08 12. Alien Embassy 9:03 LINEUP: Rowan Poole - guitars; keyboards James Waugaman - keyboards John Tallent - percussion Steven Hogue - drums John Lally - bass Heidi Engel - vocals Colleen Gray - vocals With: DC Cooper - vocals
Prolusion. "Pyre of Dreams" by PERSEPHONE'S DREAM marks my first encounter with this American outfit. In that way, as a neophyte, all I can do now is to follow the CD press kit, which says the group have existed since 1993 and have three more studio albums to their credit, "Evening Mirage" (1997), "Moon Spell" (1999) and "Opposition" (2001). To all appearances, Rowan Poole currently remains the sole representative of the band's original lineup.
Analysis. While having a sense of conceptual unity throughout, "Pyre of Dreams" is in fact only a semi-concept piece. Why? Only tracks 5 to 9, which form the Temple In Time suite, are fully organic on their lyrical plane (and are closer to original English mythology than to its compromised-by-fantasy modern interpretation, unlike the other songs), besides which the only instrumental here, Cryptoendolith (simply a drum solo), to a certain extent deprives the recording's sonic palette of its integrity, whereas otherwise the musical picture would've been almost virginly:-) monolithic in appearance. One may wonder why on earth this reviewer begins with details none of which seem to be significant, but alas, it sometimes happens that 'you' begin not with what 'you' originally wanted to begin with, feeling 'yourself' like a medium or channel for something coming from above. So just let me exercise my right to cite the proverb "The written word remains". The quickest way to classify this album's prevalent style is to take it as a confluence of progressive Doom Metal and Art-Rock, but with the reservation that the former component has more to do with the sound (which is both crunchy and dark within the corresponding sections) than with the structure or pace. The remaining three short cuts are all located at the core of the suite, Parts II, III and IV, all firstly coming across as variations on the same theme, but once they're revisited they reveal their true essence. These are indeed creations of a unified compositionally stylistic approach, but are all served up with different arrangement dressings. The very same words would be topical regarding some of the longer tracks, namely Threnody, Alien Embassy, Temple In Time-V and Aphrodite, all of which also combine art-rock and prog-metal textures, but if the first of these, being both vocal-heavy and repetitive, is overall as relatively uneventful as any of the suite's vignettes, the other three are all good pieces of musical art, the latter two both standing out for their blazing bass leads, but especially Temple In Time-V where the bass rules throughout, meaning as the main driving force in the track's soloing department. In terms of originality the said piece has no match, but nevertheless where the album really reaches its height is with Synesthesia, Nightfall and Android Dreams, the heaviest compositions here that, while not about to win any prizes for innovation or technical filigree (which is not the same as technical precision though), best of all reflect the band's artistry in songwriting and playing alike. The wall of sound that each of the three meets the listener with brings no other definitions to mind apart from progressive symphonic Doom Metal, especially since the music somewhat echoes classic Threshold (think "Psychedelicatessen" or "Extinct Instinct"). The remaining track, Temple In Time-I, is the only of the longer pieces on which Persephone's Dream don't incorporate any metal influences, but even if so, they most often play here with a force of heavy Rock, so I wouldn't dare to refer this creation exclusively to Symphonic Progressive, despite its richness in organ- and piano-driven movements. All in all, the only loose card in this musical patience is IMHO lead vocals, provided by two female singers whose voices are patently feeble - no, not in themselves, but compared to the music as such, since it's in most cases power, edgy, dark and aggressive all alike. The group certainly could deploy a dedicated lead singer, the same DC Cooper as an instance, who however, is only featured on two extra numbers. Remixes of the seventh and the eighth track, I didn't mention those in the track listing above, perhaps wrongly, since both sound way stronger than the originals, even though the difference exists only in the pieces' vocal dimension.
Conclusion. If the disc hadn't contained the two bonuses (it's hard to perceive those tracks otherwise than just so), I could have missed the flaw or at least passed it over in silence, keeping in mind the proverb "Tastes differ", whilst as it is, "Pyre of Dreams" is just a merely good effort overall. That's how things are concerning my personal preferences. As to you, dear readers, this CD might be worth checking out as long as you can tolerate it when dark, growling music comes along with high-pitched female singing, even more so if such a combination is just what you are looking for.
VM: November 25, 2007
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