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(43 min, IntroMental)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Way It Ends 5:21 2. Probe 2:48 3. Devotion 5:02 4. With Vision 4:13 5. Synthespian 3:25 6. Sea of Tranquility 1:29 7. Transcendent Velocity 3:39 8. Seed 4:44 9. Undying 2:41 10. Heart Machine 4:23 11. Cold is This Gold 5:00 LINEUP: Vince Levalois - guitars; vocals Kragen Lum - guitars Ken Scherer - bass With: Damion Ramirez - drums
Prolusion. The outfit under review was formed in 1994 out of the ruins of Californian band Psychosis, which featured guitarists Vince Levalois and Kragen Lum - the future founders of PROTOTYPE. "Continuum" is their second full-length album, following "Trinity" (2002) and the mini-CD "Cloned" from 1998. It was mixed by Grammy award winning producer and engineer Neil Kernon, famed for his work with Queensryche, Nevermore et al.
Analysis. Much of "Continuum" represents intricate, polyrhythmic, carefully arranged and splendidly performed Techno Thrash with numerous, say, academic progressive features. The music is genuinely eventful, abandoning many standards of the traditional Thrash scene. While short, most of the songs contain no less than four different instrumental sections. All in all, the amount of purely instrumental and vocal-based arrangements is approximately equal, a notable exception being Heart Machine. But although this piece is abundant in singing, it is exceptionally intricate compositionally and rhythmically (very complex to perform), the vocal lines never being monochromatic in addition. The song's overall construction is closer to those practiced in Extreme Metal, notable for machine-gun-fire-like joint movements with the endless use of odd meters. Think Testament circa "Low" except for the vocals, which are always clear (unlike those on some other songs), and the guitar solos, which are quite pronouncedly melodic everywhere on the recording, most being highly memorable, immediately attractive, by beauty and expressiveness comparable with those typical of Iron Maiden. No unruly soloing on this disc. It's the right time to note that any comparisons in this review shouldn't be taken too seriously, as Prototype's vision of heavy progressive music is quite independent. The logical, well thought-out development of events is typical for all eleven of the disc's tracks. None are flashy or obtrusive, and even the heaviest ones usually achieve the right balance between harshness and melody. I've found three sorts of compositions on the CD, meaning those distinctively differentiated between themselves. Probe, Cold is This Gold and the aptly titled Transcendent Velocity are intense throughout and, overall, of the same category as the aforesaid Heart Machine - Techno Thrash of the first water. However, the riff structure is often different and is generally more diverse, the overall guitar work concerning directly Prog-Metal. (Unless one doesn't find that the technique Fates Warning used on their classic albums, "Awaken the Guardian" and "No Exit", isn't derived from Thrash). The Way It Ends and Synthespian are similar, but reveal even more changes in tempo. There is also a tiny haven for quiet, fluid guitar and bass solos. In a way, the music can be viewed as a cross between the first of said Fates Warning recordings and Metallica's "And Justice for All". Levalois is a gifted vocalist with wide possibilities, though he definitely prefers moving within the 'clean' sector of his voice range, normally sliding from moderately aggressive to nearly tender singing, just occasionally touching brutal intonations. Both Levalois and Lum are thoughtful, technically skilled guitar players, always knowing when it is appropriate to show their technical filigree and when it'd be better to restrain their blood to emphasize the work of the rhythm section, which is tight and is normally, say, punctually concerted, though bassist Ken Scherer at times allows himself to start on a solo flight. Now to my favorite tracks. Seed not only begins and ends with crossing passages of two acoustic guitars, but also has a couple of such interplaying in the middle. Therefore, I am inclined to place this song among those forming the second category, whose most explicit representatives are Devotion and With Vision, following one another closer to the album's equator. These two are noticeably richer in Art-Rock-like and soft Prog-Metal-related structures (typical of "A Sense of Change" by Sieges Even or "A Pleasant Shade of Grey" by Fates Warning, for instance) than in those referring to Techno Thrash, the tempo varying from slow to rapid, touching a wide variety of intermediate paces too. The remaining two tracks, Undying and Sea of Tranquility, are both a moving interaction between two acoustic guitars, the former featuring vocals in addition.
Conclusion. Overall, "Continuum" by Prototype sounds as if it came out from the precincts of Sensory, the 'Metal' division of The Laser's Edge Records, and is on a par with many of that label's releases. Sincerely recommended to those who like the idea running all through the review. Devotees of Techno Thrash are especially well done by, for sure.
VM: July 29, 2006
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