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(60:01, ‘Time Grid’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Deceit 8:31 2. Emptiness 10:41 3. Me 6:04 4. Premices 6:09 5. Blind 6:14 6. Zephir 5:56 7. Forsaken 6:23 8. Escape 10:03 LINEUP: Mathias Reusser – vocals; keyboards Raphael Sudan – keyboards Laetitia Fontannaz – vocals Remi Poussier – drums Steve Huber – guitars Pierre Sottas – bass
Prolusion. The Swiss band TIME GRID can trace its origins back to 2001, when Steve Huber, Remi Poussier and Yves Marguet hooked up with each other. Mathias Reuser joined when the band was officially formed towards the end of the year, and their debut album was mostly written during the next few years. Several line-up alterations and some years later the album itself was recorded, and self-released by the band as the CD "Life" in January 2013.
Analysis. Progressive metal continues being a popular style for artists to explore, and Time Grid is another addition to this well populated part of the progressive rock universe. Like many other bands it's fairly easy to notice how influential Dream Theater has been to these musicians, and to a lesser extent the Canadian trio Rush. What separates Time Grid from many others is that they don't limit their scope to music residing within that frame of reference, but rather attempt to utilize a fairly broad stylistic base for their compositions. Those fond of majestic keyboards and guitar constellations will find plenty to enjoy on this production, and especially those fond of the sometimes majestic, striking keyboard textures Dream Theater often employ. The massive guitar riffs aren't quite as much utilized by Time Grid however, as this is where they go separate ways from many other bands. gentle, light toned sequences with more of a ballad oriented expression and tight, compact sequences with catchy guitar driven AOR-style hooks being just as common as the more impact oriented progressive metal constructions. Occasional keyboards driven, fragile passages with a more distinctly emotional impact are a nice, delicate touch that also sets this band somewhat apart from others. Avid listeners will also encounter the odd detail or other that appear to draw inspiration from jazz rock and fusion. Dual male and female vocals are another details that expand the scope of Time Grid's stylistic palette. They do tend to utilize all of these elements within each and every composition rather than focusing on select parts of their repertoire for the different songs, and personally I'm not too certain if that is a good choice or not in this case. I do like variety, but on this album I found the compositions to become just a tad too aimless due to that. If this is due to the sheer number of alterations in each composition or because of the differences in style between them I can't really say though. Personally I also got the notion that a few times certain instrument details are at odds with each other or with the dominating instrument, creating subtle discords rather than an intriguing contrast or a supplemental effect. Not in any disastrous manner I might add, but the total effect of this is that the compositions don't quite manage to escape the realms of being nice and pleasant pieces of music. On some occasions all the elements do manage to gel to good effect admittedly, concluding composition Escape among the best ones on the album in that context. Personally I was most taken by the ballad Zephir however, a fine example of how to use vocals and piano to create a tantalizing atmosphere, where subtle shifts in intensity maintain tension quite nicely throughout. The end result is an album with distinctly melody based compositions, sporting a great deal of variety on most levels but ultimately lacking the finer details that elevate this experience beyond the realms of the intriguingly pleasant to my ears. Rather uneven one might say, breathtaking in its finest moments, but less than so in other parts.
Conclusion. Melodic progressive metal is what Time Grid provides on their debut album "Life". Not limiting themselves to a purebred progressive metal expression, they incorporate a fair few details from AOR and hard rock as well as the occasional jazz rock inspired detail in their compositions, and the keyboard textures may arguably be a tad more influenced by classical symphonic music as well. All the elements don't gel perfectly all the time on this production to my ears however, but those with a particular fancy for the most melodic oriented parts of the progressive metal style should find this disc well worth exploring.
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