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Redemption - The Art Of Loss

Redemption
The Art Of Loss
by Anton Sanatov at 18 March 2016, 2:10 PM

There is an old interview of Maynard James Keenan (of TOOL/A PERFECT CIRCLE/PUSCIFIER fame) in which he suggests that good songs should carry climactic moments that deliver one to that orgasmic peak in the masturbatory process of listening to a record. Now I may of course be taking the singer's words out of context - even if there ever was one to begin with, considering Keenan's eclectic nature - but it is a valid point nonetheless.

Songwriting is an opportunity to show the odd horny listener a feverish time and debunk any repressed emotion one might harbour through musical fusion; in other words, get him/her off. Self abuse aside, the songs of a good record should be a raucous ride of varied sensations, and whilst REDEMPTION's "Hope Dies Last" is quite the serpentine laden climb, it unfortunately never seems to get the listener to the apex.

In a genre so musically experimental as progressive metal, there is truly an abundance of opportunity for self-expression. However, at times, even when all the ingredients are fresh, the finished dish ends up tasting quite plain. (I must admit, a rather unhygienic switch in tone considering the introductory theme.) I am not suggesting that "Hope Dies Last” does not have any flavour, quite the opposite, it has an abundance of it, but the pairing of the components doesn't seem to excite the palette for some reason. Yes, the tracks are epic in scope, but the compositional progressions are often found to meander, and thus prevent the right mood from ever settling in.

The instrumentation, as on most progressive records, is highly intricate and rather superb. "The Art Of Loss" opens the album with a barrage of neo-classical arpeggiation that might even get a nod from Malmsteen himself. And it proves to be only a warm-up for Bernie Versailles, who brings the heat throughout songs such as "Slouching Towards Bethlehem", "Damaged" (also featuring guitar legend Marty Friedman) and "Thirty Silver", demonstrating fine technique - phenomenally clean - and adding a considerable presence of melody to the songs, which is a rarity amongst a lot of the more technically inclined guitarists. Although there are moments when the lead axe-wielder's heart doesn't really seem to be in it, as some of the lead lines sounds like runs through scale exercises, but they are nonetheless always on point. The rhythm work of Nick van Dyck should also be commended, for it provides a groovy backdrop for the songs with some quite tasty riffs. "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" is truly a showcase for the band, combining the aforementioned guitar acrobatics in heavy rumble accompanied with dynamic keyboard work of van Dyck.

"The Centre Of The Fire" is a definite highlight. Full of power and emotional urgency, it proves to be the most consummate composition on the record, conjuring up majestic melodic textures with exceptional lyrical and instrumental delivery. A cover of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" (my personal favourite from the band's catalogue) is also a finely executed addition, and is probably one of the few moments on the album when vocalist Ray Adler pours out everything he has in store.

Overall, it's a good record. Perhaps it is not as enterprising as the offerings of such bands as DREAM THEATRE’s (their former tour mates) or as amusing as some of the more modern acts like AVENGED SEVENFOLD, but it is nonetheless respectable. Unfortunately, "respectable" doesn't always make you scream in ecstasy; sometimes a touch of lechery is needed to reach that elusive climax. Yet if you're a 'prog' fan or just appreciate great musicianship and high production values, then you may want to give this one a go. It's not the most memorable of rides, but you just might enjoy it.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. The Art Of Loss
  2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem
  3. Damaged
  4. Hope Dies Last
  5. That Golden Light
  6. Thirty Silver
  7. The Center Of The Fire
  8. Love Reign O’er Me
  9. At Day’s End
Lineup:
Ray Alder – Vocals
Nicolas van Dyk – Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards
Bernie Versailles – Lead Guitar
Sean Andrews – Bass Guitar
Chris Quirarte – Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records
     


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