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(79:27, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Lost in Time 1:12 2. On the Edge 8:39 3. Flashback 2:39 4. Apocalypse 6:00 5. Just to Be 4:21 6. The Will of Fight 8:17 7. Keys of Destiny 5:49 8. Ultimate Shock 3:20 9. Leave Me Be 4:38 10. Believe Me 5:44 11. End of a Dream 1:06 12. Illusion of Time 14:31 13. Prophecy 11:28 14. Remember Tomorrow 1:43 LINEUP: Frederic Biard – vocals David Frega – drums Romuald Dero – bass Vincent Valenti – guitars Cedric Poyer – keyboards
Prolusion. The French act PROPHECY is a recent addition to their native land's music scene, and "Illusion of Time" is their first full-length feature. In addition, the band appears to be the creative vehicle of guitarist Valenti. The man has written all the music and most of the lyrics, and has also attended to mix and production. Musea Records signed the band in 2010 and subsequently issued this CD on their Musea Parallele sub-label.
Analysis. Progressive metal continues to be among the most popular of the genres generally sorted under the progressive rock umbrella, with a multitude of artists exploring this stylistic expression and a fan base sizeable enough to support the best artists active in this field. Newcomers may have a hard time getting a breakthrough though; there is fierce competition for attention, so you'll need a really well-made creation to manage to make an impression. While Prophecy hasn't managed just that on their first attempt, they are still a promising act that should be capable of improvement in their further excursions. In terms of style, these guys place themselves in the middle of the most congested part of this genre, with Dream Theater as a distinct and rather noticeable influence on the musical foundations, liberally spiced with flavors courtesy of Symphony X and a few twists in the bass and guitar riff department that are very much in the vein of living legends Iron Maiden. Majestic guitar and keyboard arrangements, a quirky and elaborate compositional approach and diversity in stylistic expression are examples of the first, galloping riff patterns and neo-classical tendencies courtesy of guitars and keys elements from the second, and harmony riffs and soloing trademark features of the third of these likely influences, with the solid bass guitar adding an emphasis to the latter. Vocalist Biard has a powerful voice, not too unlike Bruce Dickinson’s as well, further enhancing the impression that the members of Prophecy are rather familiar with Steve Harris & company. Musically, "Illusion of Time" is a rather nice album. Highly ambitious for starters, featuring one composition divided into 14 chapters. Topically, we're dealing with a concept album, very much in the progressive spirit in other words, albeit not with a capital P. The diversity present is threefold; majestic parts with symphonic backing, ballad-oriented segments with piano and clean guitars, and pace-filled energetic parts with galloping riffs as the dominating feature. Melody and harmony are key features, while they stay clear of more sophisticated territory. The individual chapters and the composition as a whole are well-planned though; flow and momentum are well-maintained and different expressions are well-utilized to maintain a good level of interest and enough tension to keep you listening. And if not for a couple of other aspects to this disc, it might have been a truly enjoyable experience, too. The minor negative for me is the vocal delivery of Biard. He has a good voice and an obvious talent, but at this stage I would categorize it as somewhat untamed and rough. I'm rather sensible to vocals though, and this part may not be too noticeable to others. At this stage in his career his delivery is what I'd describe as typical metal, lacking the sophistication to carry a song on his own and struggling a bit with the more challenging parts. Much more negative dimensions of this CD are the mix and production. Audible hissing at times, drums and cymbals in particular, often sound distorted and strange, and there's a general feel of lo-fi to some of the technical parts of this production. Some parts sound pretty good though, so for whatever reason this effort doesn't have a really uniform sound. Diversity is often a positively laden word, but when you encounter it on the overall sound on what basically is one elongated composition that isn't the case.
Conclusion. "Illusion of Time" lacks the bells and whistles to be considered a priority purchase, but the band is talented and Valenti is a more than able songsmith. Progressive metal fans with a keen interest in the original heartland of this genre might want to give this one a go, though, in particular those who don't mind a mediocre production as long as the music is well-made and engaging.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Jan 12, 2010
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