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(60 min, 'S')
TRACK LIST: 1. Intro 2:04 2. No One Sleeps Tonight 5:30 3. A Gathering of Souls 5:16 4. My Little Angel 6:18 5. Say 5:27 6. Lonely at the World 7:51 7. Stolen from Idols 5:30 8. Man Along the Line 7:34 9. Together As One 8:17 10. Victims 5:06 All tracks: by Sanity. Produced by Sanity. LINEUP: Jeroen Hoegee - guitar Nathan Cairo - keyboards Kees Van Keulen - vocals Fred Den Hartog - drums Roger Van Acquoy - bass
Prolusion. Holland's SANITY was formed in 2000 by five young musicians whose names you can see in the lineup above. "Live at 22" is a set comprising a DVD and a CD with the same musical material, recorded and shot during the band's live performance at Tiel's "22" club on November 20, 2004, and is called to initiate their official discography. Sanity took a brave, but quite risky step with this release considering that it's their first message to the general international audience.
Analysis. Strangely, these guys judge their music like the tried adherents of RIO or avant-garde Jazz: "We are a band playing straightforward symphonic melodic rock with a touch of metal." This definition has little to do with the actual state of affairs, because the music is metal, at least basically, and it isn't straightforward, at least in the traditional sense of progressiveness within the Prog-Metal genre. Those of my brothers in pen who have already had time to acquaint themselves with the material nearly unanimously list IQ, Dream Theater and Queensryche as Sanity's influences. Down with the groundless comparisons!:-) I believe it came out unwittingly, but this output finds its creators going the path the UK's premier contemporary Symphonic Prog-Metal act Threshold paved back in the mid-nineties, and there is much in common between these bands musically. That said, the music of Threshold and, hence, Sanity's is not a traditional Prog-Metal. Rather dark and dramatic, with specific, pronouncedly heavy and dense Black Sabbath-like guitar riffs and swirling keyboard solos around, here is what classic Doom Metal of the '70s transformed into with years and which I call Cathedral Metal. Although vocal-oriented, the music is abundant in essential progressive features and is getting more and more complicated while the album unfolds, reaching a progressive culmination on the first post-equatorial tracks. Each of the songs: Say, Stolen from Idols and Lonely at the World is striking for high intensity and features large-scaled instrumental arrangements with enough unexpected turns and twists to satisfy even the most fastidious Prog-Metal fan. Especially diverse is the latter, featuring also some atmospheric and even classic Art-Rock related arrangements. Closer to the end, however, the band has lost some of their vigor. Compiled of long atmospheric and shorter heavier sections, Man Along the Line has some great moments and still retains attractiveness, but the last two songs, Together As One and Victims, contain too many repetitions in comparison with the previous ones and sound much like variations on them. The listener would have lost nothing if these weren't included in the album, especially considering its quite lengthy duration. The sound quality of the recording isn't fantastic, but is compensated by the good picture and the band's solid stage performance. So it's preferably to start the journey to Sanity's world by watching them on the DVD.
Conclusion. One may say Sanity isn't as technically perfect as Dream Theater or Symphony X, but does it really matter? Compositionally, most of the material has all the hallmarks of the style, and I like such a kind of Prog-Metal in general. Fans of Threshold will find plenty here to enjoy.
VM: April 7, 2005
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