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Armed Cloud – Obsidian Desert

Armed Cloud
Obsidian Desert
by Anton Sanatov at 08 August 2016, 8:32 PM

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” Salvador Dali

And the clocks melted as the stilted elephants marched across barren sands towards the reflected lights of Alexandria…

So, now that we’ve set the scene…

Progressive metallers can arguably be referred to as the scientific surrealists of the Metal world. For what they ever so impressively manage to achieve in their elaborate musical realms is boundless artistic creativity with mathematical precision; and when this is done correctly, it can create sonic results that transcend both the past and the future.

Yet in the present, there are times when the daily flavour of Metal becomes too bland for our tongues and they begin to slither out like snakes, sniffing around for something exotic to nibble on. Well, jaded stomachs rejoice, for ARMED CLOUD’s “Obsidian Desert” is full of spicy, albeit traditional treats that shall satisfy your progressive needs.

If Salvador Dali were to illustrate the “Arabian Nights” you would most probably have a result that resembles the record at hand. Through an opioid haze we are brought upon the “Obsidian Desert” which is riffled with eastern scales and sacred grooves; the title track along with “Jealousy With a Halo” and “My Own Kind” in particular, make prominent use of alternative, exotic modes to give the record a middle-eastern feel similar to the eclectic work of Yossi Sassi.

This, however, is where the exploration of Arabic folklore ends, and for the remainder of the record, ARMED CLOUD choose to stick to a much more conventional, yet nonetheless magnificent Prog formula that is both highly melodic and full of body rocking grooves; the types that would make a charmed serpent tangle into knots. With tracks like “Wounded Healer” (one of the album’s main highlights), “Morning Star” and “Pyramid of Charlatans” the band glides across the igneous plains in high gear, painting the landscape with smooth, kaleidoscopic keyboard strokes and piercing, melodic guitar dabs reminiscent of Vinnie Moore’s “Time Odyssey” period and anything that bares Tony MacAlpine’s touch.

There is also a very old-school feel to “Obsidian Desert”; a characteristic that is rather noticeably reflected in the production values. Whilst the sound is well rounded and extremely tight – the bass guitar presence in particular is spectacular – there is also some 1980’s grain to this album that gives it a very organic feel; especially when you feel the full caress of the keys on slower tracks like “Meltdown” and “Aftermath of Moral Hazard”. The band sounds phenomenal; fully invested and extremely proficient – this is a Prog record after all.  As is previously mentioned, Remco van der Veen's keyboards are divine, and to contribute to their polished goodness there are also the lustrous, broad vocals of Daan Dekker.

Overall  - “Obsidian Desert” is deep; deep as the twisted vortex of the most surreal imaginations. It flows like the water of an oasis in the midst of a sea of sand and is as fleeting as a mirage of it. Whist it is not as heavy as such acts as SYMPHONY X, it will nonetheless be more than welcome in the reaching hands of any Prog Rock fan.

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

4 Star Rating

  1. Obsidian Desert
  2. Jealousy with a Halo
  3. Wounded Healer
  4. Meltdown
  5. My Own Kind
  6. Morning Star
  7. In Your Mind
  8. Pyramid of Charlatans
  9. Aftermath of Moral Hazard
  10. Wasted?
Wouter van der Veen - Guitars/Backing Vocals
Boris Suvee - Bass
Remco van der Veen - Keyboards/Backing Vocals
Daan Dekker - Vocals
Rico Noijen – Drums
Record Label: MaXxive Records


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