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Poem - Unique Award winner

Poem
Unique
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 16 March 2018, 7:27 AM

POEM is a four-piece Progressive Rock/Metal band based in Athens. Following some line-up changes, the band is solidified and are releasing their third album titled “Unique,” which contains seven tracks.

“False Morality” leads off the album, in a flurry of various rhythms and textures. The vocals vary from soft and pensive whispers to more angry belts that seem to come from the gut. There is a great ambiance running through the song as well, reminding me of RIVERSIDE at times. Dexterous shifting abounds as well.  “My Own Disorder” has a catchy and somewhat aggressive riff to open, followed by thoughtful vocals that lament. Heavy rhythmic accents in the guitars in particular keep that forward-thinking sound strong. George’s vocals are surely one of the highlights in the song; he is very expressive.

“Four Cornered God” is nearly eight minutes. George shows versatility in range as he negotiates a lower range flawlessly. The instruments assist in setting a melancholy tone, and they show restraint in favoring pleasing melodies above overly technical Progressive passages. But make no mistake, these guys are fantastic musicians. “Discipline” is a more succinct track that toggles back and forth between a despondent sound and an energetic rage. The song can turn on a dime like a hungry caged animal released into the wild. Progressive elements come into play with the layers they build and the variety of ways the instruments and vocals tell the story. Emotional elements can really dig at you here as well.

“Euthanasia” has a staggering type of guitar riff that opens up to more of a legato rhythm in the presence of the clean vocals in the verses but turn angrily when George releases his rage in the upper ranges with a marked snarl. The ambient instrumental passage is a nice contrast in its simple but alluring sound. The drum work of Stavros here is especially impressive. He does a lot more than hold down the meter on some complicated rhythms. Indeed, his sense of timing and knowing how to beef up the track with his adept fills and cymbal usage is noteworthy. The title track is fantastic. When you talk about the ability of a song to connect to your inner most feelings, this is a perfect example. Some weight is lifted here and the resulting somewhat solemn but very dreamy atmosphere and vocal harmonies are just beautiful. The entirety of the song is just broad and expansive…a place you would want to visit and never return.

“Brightness of Loss” is the closing song. Harmonies build in layers as the instruments paint a diverse landscape of various riffs and sounds. Guitarist Bergstrom has the ability to push subtlety in his approach and not use his skills to overpower the song. But as a guitar duo, they clearly have a vast repertoire at their disposal which they use intelligently. Takis has a nice touch here on the bass guitar as well, supporting the integrity of the melodies with not a note missed nor an extra unnecessarily provided. The song title is an oxymoron in conventional ways, but when you listen to way they work in both of these conflicting ideas in to the song, it makes perfect sense.

The Progressive Metal genre has really widened in the past decade and continues to flourish and develop along the way. Bands are finding new and inventive ways of providing their own unique colors in the genre, and I am constantly amazed as how many good albums I have heard in the genre shortly into the year of 2018. With POEM’s “Unique,” they have firmly established themselves as accomplished and sophisticated songwriters with a stalwart sense of melody development that makes you ache for more. The incredibly versatile vocalist George Prokopiou might be the most dangerous singer in the genre today as well. This album is the total package folks!

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. False Morality
2. My Own Disorder
3. Four Cornered God
4. Discipline
5. Euthanasia
6. Unique
7. Brightness of Loss
Lineup:
George Prokopiou – Vocals/Guitar
Lawrence Bergstrom – Lead Guitar
Takis Foitos – Bass
Stavros Rivos – Drums
Record Label: ViciSolum Productions
     


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