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Anthriel - Transcendence Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 20 August 2017, 11:20 AM

Progressive Metal quintet ANTHRIEL formed in 2004 in Finland. They cite SYMPHONY X, DREAM THEATER, RUSH, KANSAS, and YES as their major influences. Following the release of a demo in 2007, the band released their debut full-length “The Pathway” In 2010. Seven years later, they have their second full-length album “Transcendence,” which contains eight new tracks. Finland is well known for its Death Metal roots but not necessarily Progressive Music, so I am definitely intrigued to listen to this. “The Calling” is a short, mood-setting opening track. It has a dreamy sound, with brief clean and subtle vocal harmonies, and just the right amount of keyboard presence. Building to a crescendo, and then loosening up with acoustic guitars; Symphonic elements take the track to completion. “Under Burning Skies” then slams in hard, reminding me of the seasoned Progressive act DGM. Melodies abound amidst the heavy bottom end, fueled by technical instrumental mastery. It has a very confident and bossy sound overall, charged to take on the world.

“Oath of Darkness” comes in at over eleven minutes. At first the vocals snarl, riding a close line to true vocals fry, but more in the vein of a singer like Russel Allen. The song is dynamic and ever-shifting; changing keys, riffs and rhythms several times. Listen for piano and keys in the mix as well. Though finespun, they are wonderful at supporting the main sound. The lead guitar breaks are great as well…you have the feeling they could break out and take over but they sound so much better softly dancing on the scales of the riffs. The sound builds towards the end like skyscrapers rising into the clouds. “Siren’s Song” is much shorter and reminds me of the earlier work of SYMPHONY X. The vocals are in the forefront here, reaching out strongly at times and retreating at others, all the while leading the glamor that marks the song. Lead guitar and keys trade off on solo passages.

“Painted Shadows” is Neo-Classical in nature right out of the gate, with some Power Metal influences that mix and meld with the Progressive elements. The classical influences in this track abound, especially considering the Symphonic principles. “Rhapsody of Fire” is just over seven minutes, and all about the guitar riffs, and the groovy mid-tempo rhythm. I never thought of describing this kind of music as sexy, but oh boy is it. Sleek and refined, it fills you with warmth as you marvel and the wondrous melodies and craftmanship. This is perhaps the track that hooked me most—the sophistication of the songwriting and the synergy created by the instruments is like the skill of an alchemist creating magic out of worldly things. “My Dark Morning Skies” has that misty and recessive sound that reminds me of ASIA, a band that was truly ahead of its time in the foundations of this genre. The tension that builds here is like a pressure cooker waiting to explode and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire ride.

A nineteen-minute closing song? Why not. The suite “Fallen Souls” takes the album to completion, and what a colorful journey it has been. When you consider the title of the album, “Transcendence,” that is exactly what you get in this monumental song. It’s a mosaic of sovereign majesty, that uses beautiful vocals, elated and enthusiastic guitar leads and keyboard and piano passages that stick the melodies like soul food to your ribs; an ever-satisfying meal that you walk away from with a smile that lasts for days. From start to finish, this ambitious effort hits the mark in almost every way. The Progressive Metal genre as of late is full of gems like this, just waiting to be discovered. This is a masterfully crafted album with a dazzling display of technicality that is not hard to absorb for the average listener. The melodies are right there, six inches in front of your face. Just open your eyes and ears and let the light flow through you.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Calling
2. Under Burning Skies
3. Oath of Darkness
4. Siren’s Song
5. Painted Shadows
6. Rhapsody of Fire
7. My Dark Morning Star
8. Fallen Souls
Timo Niemistö – Guitar
Antti Hakulinen – Keyboards
Antti Horttana – Bass
Henrikki Markkula – Drums
Simo Silvan – Vocals
Record Label: Lion Music


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Edited 17 October 2021

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