1. The Towers Of Avarice
2. The Subterranean
5. Demise And Vestige
6. The Ghosts Of Dawn
Does anyone remember the film Metropolis? It featured the well-to-do in society living in their nice big towers while deep within the underground, the Morlocks slaved away. This disc follows a very similar theme in telling its story. The liner notes begin with this little snippet:
The disc is hawked as extreme progressive metal, and it certainly fits the bill. This is music on a par with Pain of Salvation or Spiral Architect. The band tells us that The Towers of Avarice is a six-part epic that combines the atmospheric drama of Fates Warning, the theatrical excitement of Queensryche, the challenging intricacies of Spiral Architect and Meshuggah, and a fantasy prose that would make Dream Theater proud. "We wanted to create a heavy, dark, and dynamic epic masterpiece," said founding member and guitarist Jasun Tipton. "We worked very hard to make sure every part fit perfectly into the puzzle."
The disk moves through the parts with grace and style. The heavy and dark atmosphere is oppressive and you can empathize with the character of the Subterranean. The longed-for freedom is expressed in the light and airy parts of the disc and the climax of the story is carried off with excitement and tension that is very well conveyed. The musical themes begin in the first track are repeated throughout the disc giving it a real sense of unity. The band uses harmony and discordant sound equally well to promote the emotion of the story. I think that is part of what draws me to this disc so much. I like how the story takes prominence over the technical play. The music doesn't get in the way of the story, but is used as a vehicle for telling that story. Singer Erik Rosvold does all the voices for the parts in the songs. He sings and emotes wonderfully. The opening lyrics of "Stratagem" are especially well done.
For all the emphasis on the story, don't think that the disc is short in the music department. As noted above, this is technically complex extreme progressive metal. The music is so densely packed that it will take several listens to appreciate it. This is not an easily accessible disc, but it is well worth the time and effort to apprehend it. Everything fits well and the end result is a tight package that has far more music intensity than you might find on any other two discs together. This one is highly recommended and well worth the time and effort that will be required of you to grasp the many nuances of this very intricate disc.
Review by Matthew Braymiller
Review date: 04/2001