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(42:16, Melodic Revolution Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Breaking News 8:24 2. Idiot Box 5:29 3. What You Eat 6:02 4. Rich Man's Dream 4:49 5. Watching You 4:07 6. Police State 4:13 7. Revolution 4:45 8. Apocalypse Now 4:29 LINEUP: Blake Carpenter – vocals; keyboards; guitars Zoltan Csorsz Jr. – drums Robert McClung – guitars Petri Lindstrom – bass With: Marty Dorfman – voice Terri Carpenter – voice Elizabeth Martin – voice Troy James Martin – voice
Prolusion. The US project VOICE OF THE ENSLAVED is a side venture for US composer and musician Blake Carpenter, best known for his ongoing progressive rock project The Minstrel's Ghost. This self-titled debut album from Voice Of The Enslaved, released by Melodic Revolution Records in 2014, explores music of a harder-edged style than in Blake's main project.
Analysis. I have seen this project referenced as progressive metal in a few places, and while there's admittedly something of a metal edge to the material on this album, I wouldn't personally place this venture into that category. Some of the compositions come across as progressive rock with more or less subtle nods towards metal, while the more metal dominated parts of the material come closer to ‘80s melodic heavy metal in my book. But if I should align this album towards any more or less well-known band for comparison, I suspect Magnum would be my personal choice. Voice Of The Enslaved is a heavier and harder-edged project admittedly, but the bits and pieces used, as well as the overall approach on a few select tracks, make that comparison most valid for me. Those who fancy investigating this album are well advised to shy away from the opening track. Cinematic sequences that add an emphasis to the concept of theme explored on an album is very much a hit or miss affair, and for me the 3-minute long opening sequence of presumably fake news broadcasts mixed with bathroom sounds just isn't appealing or interesting either. Adding a further minute of these later on in the same track pretty much destroys this opening number for me, and while these cinematic sequences are well made, my main impression is that these will be interesting for a rather finite niche audience only. So, skip this track, folks, unless the description given comes across as strikingly tantalizing. What follows is a couple of tracks pairing off harder edged, metal-tinged sequences with gentler, smooth ones with more of a progressive rock intent, and possibly neo progressive rock at that, before the album takes a step aside to dip into more of a pomp rock oriented expression, of the kind that on many levels sounds like material that can be compared to the aforementioned Magnum. The following couple of tracks explore a similar expression, but with slightly more of an emphasis on what I'd describe as melodic heavy metal, on the halfway line between Magnum and Dokken, if you like. Concluding piece Apocalypse Now switches to a rather different landscape, using exotic, mystical keyboard textures and firm guitar riffs to create one of those striking and compelling soundscapes numerous rock and metal bands have crafted ever since Led Zeppelin popularized this particular mood and atmosphere with Kashmir back in the day. A Middle-East tinged affair, and like most such efforts one that is easy to enjoy and hum along to. To my taste, easily the strongest composition on the album. Personally I did find this production to be something of a roller-coaster ride though. The opening track obviously the main cause of that, as described in some detail, but I also found the mix and production to be a bit too closed in. Not to the point of being detrimental as such, but to the point where not all the songs had their strengths highlighted as far as I experienced them. To put it that way: there are songs at hand that probably would have been more compelling with a higher quality mix and production.
Conclusion. Apart from the rather flawed opening track, “Voice of the Enslaved” comes across as a charming production with a small handful of delightful tracks. Perhaps not the album that will inspire dedicated progressive rock fans the most, but those who have an affection for prog-tinged melodic hard rock as well as progressive rock strikes me as a key audience here, and I'd suspect that those who enjoy a band like Magnum at their most intense might find this album to be worth a check.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 24, 2015
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