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Soundgeist - 2009 - "The Fine Line Between"

(47:40, Musiche Particolari & Records)


*****
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  New Millenium Babylon 4:32
2.  Narrow 4:38
3.  Death Kiss 4:52
4.  Insanity-1 6:49
5.  Insanity -2 10:59
6.  Divine Light 7:22
7.  New Millenium Babylon Extended Version 8:28

LINEUP:

Emmanuel Zografakis  guitars 
Stelios Kanitsakis  keyboards 
Antreas Anastopoulos  bass 
Panagiotis Mavrakis  drums 
Dimitris Skourtis  vocals 

Prolusion. The Greek band SOUNDGEIST was formed in May 2004, and finalized its line-up one year later following a few transitional phases. "The Fine Line Between" is its debut album, recorded in 2007 and officially released in 2009, when it was signed by the Italian label MP Records.

Analysis. Sometimes you come across albums that surprise you. An artist that has made an album you probably shouldn't like, made up of elements that individually aren't too interesting, and perhaps with several noticeable shortcomings that should have limited their appeal; productions where the total sum of their parts far exceeds what is normal, and where mood, atmosphere and pure charm make this a personal favorite. An effort that fascinates and intrigues beyond what logical reasoning can explain. This debut effort by Greek band Soundgeist is a pretty good example of just that. The opening track, New Millenium Babylon, which is repeated with a 4-minute fusion-tinged soloing part at the end of the disc, is a number that arguably takes the musical mix to the most extreme. A swirling guitar theme in a manner that reminds the listener quite a bit of Ozric Tentacles is blended in with a form of progressive metal that has similarities to the more simplistic excursions of acts like Dream Theater: basic prog metal with psychedelic embellishments if you like, nothing fancy or sophisticated, but it works like a charm. The remaining efforts on this album are similar in style but in a more moderate manner: Exchange the Ozrics with mid '70s Pink Floyd in the general description above and substitute the swirling guitar theme with space-tinged keyboards and you'll get the general idea. Slow- to mid-paced pieces all of them, with a nice blend between mellow atmospheric passages and harder hitting metal based sequences, with simplicity as something of a keyword. Not that I think these efforts are easy to perform, but the lack of challenging, truly sophisticated effects as well as the absence of truly virtuosic instrumental efforts will limit the scope for this act considerably in a progressively interested environment. One of the likable features of this venture is its honesty, I would guess. This is pretty down to earth stuff; the band doesn't seem to have any grandiose pretension to try to hit above its capacity. They don't try to copy the technical flourishes of the main instrumentalists in the progressive metal realm; they avoid copying the grand bombast of acts like Ayreon. They do what they want to do in a pretty straightforward fashion, which is a refreshing experience. In addition, the vocal style of Dimitris Skourtis represents a rare approach too. His throaty, rasping vocal style will most certainly be an acquired taste I'm pretty surprised that I liked it myself - but on this album and on these songs they fit perfectly for some reason or other.

Conclusion. Those looking for a highly sophisticated act with complex compositions, technically challenging instrumental features and challenging details won't find much to please them on this first venture by Soundgeist. But if a simple, honest and straightforward blend of progressive metal and space-tinged hard rock sounds like an interesting mix this band may just be what you're looking for. The peculiar and distinct vocal style of frontman Skourtis will not please everyone though, and while I'd recommend this album to those who find the above descriptions enticing I also advise any potential buyers to track down the MySpace page of this act to sample them before making a purchasing decision. Because this is very much a case of a band that will have a select audience where some will be swayed by their efforts while many others won't be able to grasp the attraction.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 22, 2010
The Rating Room


Related Links:

MP Records
Soundgeist


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