Ark

Picture of Ark

Ark

Ark - Ark ©2000 Sensory
1. Burning Down
2. Where The Winds Blow
3. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
4. Singer's At The World's Dawn
5. Mother Love
6. Center Avenue
7. Can't Let Go

The folks who make up Ark are consummate professionals. The biography of the band is listed at the website, but a bit of it is worth repeating here so you can understand the music style you'll find on this disc. Ark is made up of guitarist Tore Ostby formerly of Conception and recently with D. C. Cooper and drummer John Macaluso formerly with TNT. The two met in 1990 and became friends. They decided to embark on a project together and from that decision Ark was born.

While this self-titled debut is not exactly metal, fans of Conception will be able to access it because of the distinctive style and immense skill of Tore Ostby. The style of this disc is hard to quantify. Some of it sounds akin to jazz fusion, some of it is progressive metal, some of it is progressive rock. All of it is experimental, out on the edge music. Ostby explains that he felt constricted by his role as bandleader for Conception. He and John decided to pursue something closer to free form expressive playing. The sound is loose and very unpredictable, made up of wildly varying styles. There is a lot of off the beaten path percussion (bad pun), stuff that really marches to the beat of a different . . . (ok, I won't finish it since it is a worse pun and John won't let me write for him anymore). The guitar styles range from metal shredding and chops to make you smile to Carlos Santana inspired solos to introspective classical bits to blues to you name it. Tore Ostby is one of those unsung stellar guitarists that bring a lot of happiness to those who "discover" his work. I think this disc represents more of a "finding ourselves" expressive outlet than it does a "this is what we sounds like" debut. It is almost a warm up session for something else that I think will be really big and really enjoyable. This is the experimental stage, the "let's see what this sounds like" reaching for something that's out there beyond the norms of progressive metal / rock / fusion or what-have-you. Once the members of Ark have coalesced into a unit, the sounds is going to be really great. As it is, the rough draft we have on this disc is a lot of fun and worth a listen. It could very well be a blueprint for a very successful band.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2000

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Burn The Sun

Ark - Burn The Sun ©2002 InsideOut
1. Heal The Waters
2. Torn
3. Burn The Sun
4. Resurrection
5. Absolute Zero
6. Just A Little
7. Waking Hour
8. Noose
9. Feed The Fire
10. I Bleed
11. Missing You

Ark are an experimental progressive metal band. They are not content to stay safely within the well-defined bounds of progressive norms. Their debut disc showed a band that was going to push the envelope and their sophomore disc continues to explore new territory.

Burn the Sun is a blistering display of what progressive metal is all about. No old school, tried and true stuff here. The melody structures are unanticipated and original. They are intricate and very involved. It will take more than one or two listens to fully grasp this album. The music is thick and immensely satisfying. There are influences from jazz, blues, avant garde, Latin music and classical music interspersed throughout the mix. When it is all combined and simmered, the result is a truly innovative progressive heavy metal that will blow your socks off. Don’t expect the same old, same old with this disc. This is not a disc for those who don’t like to leave their comfort zones. It is a disc for the musically adventurous to take and enjoy. Ark take s a wild ride through some uncharted territory and will have you white-knuckling it as you ride along with them. Believe me, the trip is worth it.

Tore Østby’s guitar playing is phenomenal. Østby is one of the best progressive metal guitarists there is. He can change from scorching the fretboard to playing so subtly as to hypnotize you in the blink of an eye. His guitar wails and screams its way through this disc, whipping you back and forth with its ferocity and making you come back for more listen after listen. Jorn Lande’s vocals are outstanding. His voice is gruff, gritty and full of soul, so very unlike the vast majority of progressive metal vocalists. His singing is alive with energy and intensity. Østby, Lande and John Macaluso form the core of the band. Macaluso’s superb sense of rhythm gives a great foundation for the guitar, keys and vocals to come together in a sound that is enormous on an epic scale. It is a rare thing to find a sound that defies description, but that’s what you have here. Complex music with intelligent lyrics delivered with style.

This is the best disc I have heard this year and currently holds my spot for “Best of 2001" thus far. If you are a fan of progressive metal, you simply must get this disc. If you don’t have a clue what progressive metal is about, buy this disc and learn. This is intelligent, complex music that will make you stop and really listen. This is an absolute must have disc for the fan of outstanding progressive metal.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 07/2001

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