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Theater Of The Absurd - 2013 - "The Myth of Sisyphus"

(52:34, Graviton Music Services)


1.  False Idols 6:11
2.  The Lesser Gods 8:35
3.  Trade Winds 8:15
4.  Rising Tides in Still Water 7:41
5.  For Nostalgia's Burden I 7:08
6.  For Nostalgia's Burden II 6:43
7.  Black Wind from Mr. Takamine 1:27
8.  Changing Direction 6:36


Michael Neumeister  guitars, bass
Patrick Curley  drums; vocals
Tor Morten Kjosnes  piano, keyboards
Christopher Curley  Mellotron 
Chandler Mogel  vocals 
Kjersti Kveli  vocals 

Prolusion. The US project THEATER OF THE ABSURD was formed back in 2006 by Michael Neumeister and Patrick Curly, a creative duo with a liberal taste in music that covers many of the better known experimental bands in rock and metal. "The Myth of Sisyphus" is their second full length album, and was released through Graviton Music Services in 2013.

Analysis. It's always interesting to read up on the stated influences on the artists you listen to. In the case of Theater Of The Absurd, that list includes names as different as Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Atheist, The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Marillion. Normally, a list as diverse in style as this doesn't reveal too music about the music explored by the artists that have stated those influences, but in this case this is a fairly accurate one as far as I can tell. Fans of all the stated bands, and a few more too, will find some familiar ground at some point during the course of this album. Which, presumably, will have a few people stating "no way" at this point. The music on this production resides firmly and safely within the metal part of the progressive rock universe, and it should come as no surprise that it is tucked away somewhere in the experimental or avant-garde section, or possibly even the extreme corner. The compositions are generally fairly long, between five and ten minutes in length, and are typically of the kind where you count the number of alterations in pace, intensity and style per minute. To describe this album as quirky is, in this case, an understatement if anything. The piano is the central instrument, a first for me when dealing with a metal production, and there aren't too many occasions without a piano motif or some piano notes to be heard somewhere in the arrangements. There's plenty of room for acoustic and light toned, clean electric guitar too, and on occasion keyboards, organ and Mellotron are applied as well. The latter most prominently on the brief, pastoral mood piece Black Wind From Mr. Takamine. Concluding composition Changing Direction also features some free form inspired piano details that should interest those with an interest in the more expressive varieties of jazz-rock, and that there are sequences with liberal use of Greek inspired acoustic guitars is also a part of the whole. But in between, on top of, underneath and on the side there's a whole lot of metal. Compact, hammering riff barrages, drawn out dark toned rich sounding riffs, technical brief guitar bursts, impact riffs aplenty. More often than not alongside the aforementioned piano, occasionally also with calmer rock oriented sequences making more or less brief appearances. On a couple of occasions passages that in sound were closer to the likes of U2 and Marillion appeared in between an intense or majestic metal run of some kind or other. Usually both, or more. The main vocalist employed on this production, Chandler Mogel, has a powerful, melodic voice of the kind that many metal bands will envy. His presence clearly elevates the total experience. As does the vocals of singer Kjersti Kveli when she employs her voice in normal or operatic manner, while the growling of band member Patrick Curley may be more of an acquired taste. It does fit the proceedings fairly good, but growling will always be a vocal style subject to personal opinions. At least for those who are too old to have grown up with that element in music.

Conclusion. Experimental, avantgarde and highly challenging progressive metal is the name of the game for Theater Of The Absurd. Their sophomore production "The Myth of Sisyphus" is the kind of album that manages to combine everything and the kitchen sink in a good way, and while somewhat too disorderly for me to raise the flag to the top on this occasion due to my personal taste in music I can safely conclude that this is a high quality affair, and one that comes recommended to fans of bands like, for instance, Cynic.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 6, 2014
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Graviton Music Services
Theater Of The Absurd


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