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Twisted Illusion – Temple of Artifice

Twisted Illusion
Temple of Artifice
by Mark Machlay at 14 April 2021, 6:29 AM

It would seem strange to re-release an album only five years after its original debut, but in the everblooming genre of prog metal TWISTED ILLUSION have re-released their debut “Temple of Artifice” with the promise of not just one but a trilogy of albums in the next eighteen months. The English vintage sounding prog metallers hail from Manchester by founder and front man Matt Jones in 2014. To be fair, the band itself seems simply like a moniker for what is actually a solo projects for principle writer Matt Jones. The band contains revolving members who are involved with both recording and live shows, similar to monolith artists Steven Wilson and Devin Townsend. After releasing their debut, the band wasted no time and in true prog metal fashion, would release double album “Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces” in 2017. Ever since then, the band have never seemed to slow down, slowly, trickling out new material or even a full album fairly regularly.

The band continues to promote their albums fully independently and the re-release of “Temple of Artifice” is no different. To date, the band have been able to cultivate a diehard fan base in their home country of the U.K. as well as across both Europe and the United States. Selling thousands of albums directly to their fan across five continents and over twenty countries, the band is relentless and the pandemic seems to have done little to slow them down. To mark the anniversary Matt Jones explains “Despite the album initially being written in 2016, it’s more lyrically relevant than ever to me. “Temple of Artifice” is very much at the core of TI’s ethos and sensibilities and will continue to be so. It represents integrity, a promotion of good mental health and a joy to be found in the absurdity of it all.” As previously mentioned, the band are using this re-release to whet the fans appetites for the “Excite the Light” trilogy of albums that will distill the essence and all aspects of the band’s incredible sound. They are known for long prog rock epics like the title track of “Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces” as well as radio friendly pop rock tunes and all are presented here and more.

The first thing you’ll notice about TWISTED ILLUSION is their anachronistic vintage style and particular vocal delivery. Think DIO, RUSH or even early QUEENSRYCHE instead of more recent progressive metal. There is certainly a lot of DREAM THEATER influence too, evident very early on the album opener “Imitate Me Part 1” in which Jones imitates John Petrucci clean 12-string guitar tone. There is also the fact that the band bookends the album with 2 parts of an epic – one part at the beginning and one at the end – that DREAM THEATER used on “Systematic Chaos” but obviously goes much farther back given PINK FLOYD did a similar thing many years before breaking up “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” into two bookending tracks on “Wish You Were Here” in 1975. But you also have grandiose dual guitar leads, soaring and fiery vocals delivered expertly by Jones reaching highs of thrash legends Joey Belladonna but also gritty and layered like gravelly Dave Mustaine, it’s quite astonishing from a singer/guitarist who is so young. He also has a sense of humor, writing a song about the Apocalypse but the world is so distracted by social media they don’t even notice. The track – “Apocalypse…LOL” – honestly falls a little flat for me, but it’s nice to know the band can laugh too. I love the modern theme of “internet rock” that is woven through, especially apparent on “Online and In Line” and even gets a little pop rock but more like what 80’s metal would sound like if it would break back into the mainstream in the modern day. It’s not the most coherent album, does not seem to decide on what it wants to be ultimately, but Matt Jones skill certainly shines through and I look forward to this new trilogy of albums the band has planned for the future.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Imitate Me Part 1
2. Freedom to Fail
3. Hatred is a Virtue
4. Apocalypse…LOL
5. Online and In Line
6. A Moment of Lucidity
7. Imitate Me Part 2
Lineup:
Matt Jones – Guitar & Vocals
Saxon Davids – Guitar & Vocals
Phil Shacklady – Drums
Andy Gotteri – Keys
Chris Jones – Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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