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Thought Chamber - Psykerion Award winner

Thought Chamber
Psykerion
by YngwieViking at 03 October 2013, 4:42 PM

I still remember perfectly this day in the year of grace 1992, I was at a friend’s home, I was doing tape trading, and I discovered an exceptionally talented Guitarist and a truly gifted musician, his name was Michael Harris. He was the alter ego of another early guitar-Hero of mine, Mr. David Chastain, who was his mentor and also his partner for the great live release, once named “Counterpoint Live! Wild And Truly Diminished”, a hell of blistering infused guitar licks and impressive lava’s flow of notes. Since then I remained a strong supporter of all his works and projects, before this, Harris was known as the key guitar player in LEATHER’s solo album “Shock Waves” in 1989, also produced by Chastain. The numerous releases by his bands ARCH RIVAL or SURGEON were always a true pleasure for me, displaying his superb technique and his perfect taste for modern Neo-Classical riffage. The collaboration with Chastain had reached another chapter with the two consecutive release of ZANISTER’s 1999’s “Symphonica Millennia” and “Fear No Man” in 2001, and after an amazing stint with virtuoso pianist Vitalij Kuprij from Ukraine (RING OF FIRE / ex-ARTENSION / ex-ADAGIO) for a bunch of high profiled instrumental releases. Harris surprised everyone, including me, in teaming with ENCHANT’s singer for a real Progressive Metal project under the enigmatic moniker of THOUGHT CHAMBER, and the publishing of the debut album “Angular Perceptions” in 2007, which is by far the most innovative release of Harris in the last period of time, this album was a real highlight back then and finish pretty high in my famous TOP 30.

“Angular Perceptions” still stands in my book as a great album only a little overshadowed by DARKOLOGY’s “Altered Reflections” featuring Michael and Kelly Carpenter Sundown on Lead Vocals (FIREWIND / ex-BEYOND TWILIGHT / ex-OUTWORLD / ex-ADAGIO) in 2009 (I’m in waiting impatiently for chapter N°2 “Fated To Burn” very soon) but now in October 2013, its successor is here, so the question is, does “Psykerion” can match the brilliance of “Angular Perceptions”? Or maybe all those expectations were in vain… If you aware of Harris's fantastic skills as guitarist, his obvious strength in song composition, I’m not bloody Alfred Hitchcock, so the cliff hanger will not be too difficult to handle I suppose.

The whole spectrum of Harris and Leonard capacities is used in this concept album, a complete and uplifting story was wrote, also elaborated to fit the ultra-high level of playing, to click with another mind blowing collection of hyper challenging tunes like a collision or an hazardous telescoping of style in between PAGAN’S MIND / THRESHOLD / STAR ONE / SHADOW GALLERY melted with early ROCKET SCIENTIST’s keyboards, 80's RUSH (“Kerakryps”) and classic KANSAS signature melodious hook and vocal harmonies (“Light Year Time”), with an extra Jazz / Fusion element like TRIBAL TECH or Allan Holdsworth’s doozey patterns, captured in the guitar chops arsenal courtesy of Harris rich culture background (“The Black Hole Lounge”)and childhood musical education training.

The neo-modern Sci-Fi story is also a very human adventure about a intersidereal quest for a new shelter for mankind, Kerakryps-one is a gigantic space station that travels through the far away galaxy Psykerion and the whole telling mode is coming from the point of view of a young bloke called Avakus.

Lead singer Ted Leonard (currently also fronting SPOCK’S BEARD) was an incredible positive ingredient in the triumph of “Angular Perceptions” and again this time, his voice performance is clearly the pillar of the conceptual theme, the organic side, another smartest addition to the lineup is keyboardist and ENCHANT colleague Bill Jenkins who add some tasteful layers of sounds, a few symphonic ambiances, a fistful of epic atmospheres or he simply play some ethereal soundscapes out of the eerie score with many embellished waves of synth, in the most grandiose way, and obviously it’s the most orthodox Proggy parameter with the unmatched perfect tone of Leonard’s singing which is magical (“In the Words of Avakus”).

The more Metallic and mechanic touches are provided by new member Mike Haid (CHASTAIN / SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN) on drums and by Harris's distinctive tone and many amazing licks proving his proficiency in straight to the point rhythmic but also his polyvalence in acoustic's appoggiatura and a few strangely crafted atonal parts, in summary “Psykerion” is the most tangible proof for his superiority in each and every guitar styles and techniques.

To symbolize this density in the genuine art, the mastery of such demanding musical factors, I can recommend you to take a while to analyze the tracks “Psykerion: The Question” or the nine minutes "Transcend", before and in between you can find some fine interludes full on intriguing instrumental parts and soundscapes are also utterly worth checking, as "Xyrethius II” or “Planet Qwinkle” and even the floating moments of "Exodus” or the majestic weirdness opening of “Inceptus”, this release is a well-constructed and clever album with reoccurring melodic themes, a good way to keep the focus on the concept both lyrical but also in the composition field , something important for the credibility of the continuum of the narration. The song format isn’t regular and on the structural edge-side: it’s distinctly weird, the complex design is precisely made to match the recital with many scents, very much like a movie (“Circuits Of O.D.D.) or a book with chapters interleaved with each other. The cover art itself is beautiful and stellar (!) holding a real attractive effect tainted of darkness, coldness and mystery, the artist who is credited for this superb illustration is John E. Holland (MistyMountainGrahics.com).

Everything is technically perfect, even the production is top notch and the mixing did not forget the vivid rumble sensation and the low end of bass guitar played by newbie Jeff Plant (TRILATERAL COMMISSION), that reveal a few intense chops ("Kerakryps" / ”Behind The Eyes Of Ikk”) in the more Jazzy or Classic Rock fashion. Of Course, this effort isn’t for everyone, you have to be in a good mental shape to afford such a thick cerebral musical journey, it needs some time to fully get the things, but let me tell you something: It’s damn worth to your precious time and your hard earned money.

The limited edition first pressing of the CD will come with an O-Card and 2 bonus tracks: “Isle of Bizen (acoustic version)” and “Recoil (instrumental version)”.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Inceptus
2. Exodus
3. Psykerion: The Question
4. In the Words of Avakus
5. Light Year Time
6. Kerakryps
7. The Black Hole Lounge
8. Circuits of O.D.D.
9. Behind the eyes of Ikk
10. Isle of Bizen
11. Xyrethius II
12. Recoil
13. Breath of Life
14. Transcend
15. Planet Qwinkle
16. Inner Peace
Lineup:
Ted Leonard - Lead Vocals
Michael Harris – Lead Guitars/Keyboards/Vocals
Jeff Plant – Bass
Bill Jenkins - Keyboards
Mike Haid - Drums
Record Label: InsideOut Music
     


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