Issue 54 - January 14, 2003


cheating the polygraph
Apr 29, 2001
dead between the walls
Issue 54 – “We entered winter once again…”
Written January 12-13, 2003 - recent additions:
Brave - Waiting All This Time
Devin Townsend - Storm (more on that later...)

Greetings, devoted readers! Lots of bands to cover this week…

Agalloch – The Misshapen Steed, The Lodge: After reading the last issue and my frequent mentions of this band on the forums, you probably know that I worship this band. One of their strengths would have to be the evocative instrumentals, the former from Pale Folklore having a creepy feel to it and the latter consisting of a haunting guitar figure and that insistent “deer antler percussion”…

Amon Amarth – Across The Rainbow Bridge, Versus The World: The Viking metallers return with their third consecutive album in the same vein, eschewing the folk influences common in the genre for a more assaultive sound, appropriate for the latter call to arms. Both of these tracks are full of crushing riffs, and the band also shows improved dynamics, especially in the former track.

Andromeda – Encyclopedia, One In My Head: Having already went over the changes between albums, I’ll concentrate solely on the music this time. The former track highlights Johan’s skills on bass (filling in temporarily), and goes on to contain a memorable chorus, some insane tempo changes, and an unexpected outro. The latter has an excellent extended intro, aggressive vocals, and keyboardist Martin Hedin is all over the place…

Anguish – Symmetry, Fear Of The Rain: German progressive metal act who has received some good press. The former title track, available at official site, is highly impressive, balancing instrumentation reminiscent of Dream Theater with some well-done vocal harmonies, which are also present in the latter track as well.

Antique – Take This Sullen Timber, Frost Upon Broken Dreams: I became aware of this band after they contacted me about inclusion on my station (of course, that means both songs can be found there.) Both songs feature elements of doom metal, although played primarily using acoustic instruments, and are carefully crafted…

Arena – Skin Game, Cutting The Cards: The highly anticipated Contagion sees release this month, and it has begun to receive some rave reviews. Both of these tracks are among the best on the album, the latter being a definite highlight with its acoustic intro leading into an energetic near-metal track with an urgent chorus.

Biomechanical – The Awakening, The Hunted: British act that has gained some strong press lately…the music on both songs is intriguing enough, combining Nevermore-like heaviness with keyboard layering, but the vocals prevented me from fully embracing the band. Former track available at official site.

Dungeon – Netherlife (Black Roses Die), Insanity’s Fall: Australian act who was one of the first unsigned acts to get a promotional push from this site, and information on them is still available here. Both tracks contain some Maidenesque guitars and the former has a strong chorus.

Frantic Bleep – Third Stage, Mandaughter: Yes, that is their real name, not Frantic Fuck. This unsigned Norwegian band’s self-financed EP contains technical metal with a very dark atmosphere, containing both clean and death vocals. Very intriguing stuff for a debut, both songs available at official site.

Gordian Knot – A Shaman’s Whisper, Singing Deep Mountain: After seemingly endless delays, Emergent is finally here, its sound combining the controlled chaos of both Cynic (whose core members are all present on the former track) and King Crimson (Bill Bruford guests, creating a titanic pairing with Sean Reinert) with a panoramic atmosphere, best expressed in the immensely ethereal latter track. As expected, the talent displayed on this album is astonishing…

Ron Jarzombek – excerpts from Solitarily Speaking…: Taking advantage of periods of inactivity in the ongoing recording of the new Spastic Ink and Watchtower albums (both of which may be released this year), Ron recorded this album of short musical explorations, featuring tons of insane guitar work. The concept behind it is described in detail by Ron at Ink’s official site, which also contains many samples.

Kamelot – A Feast For The Vain, Lost & Damned: Epica is ready for release this week, and in addition to being the band’s most ambitious album to date and it is their most consistent and contains more of a balance between power and prog metal. The contrasts can be easily heard in both of these tracks, especially the carnival-like verses of the former being offset by the speedy tempo of its chorus.

Karaboudjan – Plan 714 Till Sydney, Dem Svarta On: Along with Pan-Thy-Monium, the most bizarre of Dan Swano’s numerous projects. While the former could best be described as a warped take on death metal, this is pure avant garde mayhem, which nonetheless shows Swano’s skills as a musician, especially in the former track’s foreboding atmosphere, and his willingness to try ANYTHING.

Karmakanic – Welcome To Paradise, Cyberdust From Mars: Project led by Flower Kings bassist Jonas Reingold and featuring most of its personnel…Roine Stolt performs vocal duties on the short but catchy track. The former track contains a somewhat campy vocal arrangement, but the music is still good enough to forgive its excesses…

Loch Vostok – The Forsaken One, Blunt Force Trauma: Recently signed act on the Intromental roster featuring former members of the underrated progressive metal act Mayadome. Both of these tracks are prog metal of the aggressive variety, including some harsh vocals on the latter, although the former tracks contains a great piano hook and a memorable chorus.

Masterplan – Crystal Night, Spirit Never Die: Another hyped release of this year’s first quarter, and unfortunately one of very few that has disappointed me so far. However, both songs do have their strengths, especially the pickup in the former’s final minute and of course Jorn’s vocals, that should appeal to many, especially power metal fans.

Memory Garden – Tragic Kingdom, Blissful: Melodic doom act that has released a few well-received albums, most notably 1998’s Verdict Of Posterity. The latter song from the earlier Tides is a piano-led track that reminded me of Anathema in its melancholy, and the former, available at the band’s official site, contains a powerful lead riff.

Nice Beaver – We Are The Sun, Culley On Bleecker Street: Great band name, probably taken from The Naked Gun. Even weirder is that this a Dutch band naming a song after a street in Greenwich Village…everyone loves New York. J The former track contains some tense sections approaching metal, while the latter has some effective instrumentation.

Novembre – Nottetempo, The Music: Their profile increased after 2001’s excellent Novembrine Waltz and a subsequent tour with Opeth and Katatonia, this band’s next move was a surprising one: a rerecording of their long out of print debut, renamed Dreams D’Azur. Both songs balance the band’s heaviness and progressiveness nicely, and show their continued development…compare with the original versions available at

Odes Of Ecstasy – Abstract Thoughts, Deceitful Melody: One of the first bands to be signed to The End, and the titles are definitely very descriptive of the majority of material released by the label. Both songs consist of atmospheric metal with a dark feel. Samples available at

Pagan’s Mind – Dreamscape Lucidity, Entrance: Stargate: Recently hailed by many in the progressive metal community as one of 2002’s best albums, Celestial Entrance lives up to its billing as an excellent combination of power and prog metal elements, demonstrated nicely by the verses in the former and the instrumental sections in the former. The sometimes maligned vocals may take some time getting used to, but they are in no way a weakness IMO.

Prymary - Tearing Through Weakness, Tanglebox: A prospective choice among some insiders in the prog metal community as a debut to look out for this year. Judging by the material I’ve heard, I’d have to agree. The former track is anchored by an incredible bassline, and the latter features some deft instrumentation.

Redemption – Desperation pts. 1-4: Progressive metal project featuring several notable names, including Ray Alder (in a limited function) and Symphony X drummer Jason Rullo. The centerpiece of the album is a 21-minute song cycle based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Highlights include the excellent riff on the first part and the memorable chorus in the second, which will not leave your head for days…

Ring Of Fire – System Utopia, Refuge Of The Free: “You’ve unleashed the fooking foory!” In a situation similar to Ark, former Yngwie vocalist Mark Boals now finds himself with superior talent, namely two thirds of Planet X and keyboard wizard Vitalij Kuprij, and better music. Unlike Ark, the vocals are what prevent me from enjoying this band more…

Section 16 – Monkey Patch, Once In A Lifetime/The Killing Words: The former track from this unsigned act features a savage riff enhanced by its namesake device, while the more proggy latter track contains a huge chorus…and an unexpected payoff in a hidden cover of one of Ryche’s most underrated songs. Vocalist Corey Brown also appears in Magnitude 9, thereby accomplishing the rare feat of being in two bands with numbers in their name that don’t suck.

Shadow Keep – Beware The Signs, Lucifer’s Pastime: The British metallers return with another album drawing heavily on metal as we knew it circa the late eighties, and again contains the screechy vocals of the since departed Rogue. The former track does contain a commanding chorus nonetheless, and the riffs are sharp…not exceptional, but still better than most recent power metal.

Alex Skolnick Trio – War Pigs, Goodbye To Romance: A nod to both his roots in metal and his current endeavors, as the latest release by the famed guitarist consists mostly of acoustic jazz takes on songs familiar to anyone who grew up listening to metal. What keeps this from being an exercise in novelty is of course Skolnick’s skill, and just when you become accustomed to the translations of the songs, he surprises with some manic soloing on both tracks listed here.

Sonic Debris – Snowflake, Orbweaver: The first band signed to the DVS label, home to adventurous prog metal acts like Into Eternity, Heaven’s Cry, and until recently Wolverine. This band is similarly unconventional, as evidenced by the atypical placement of acoustics in the latter track. The former track contains some effective guitar work.

Symphony X – Frontiers, Masquerade ’98: The two bonus tracks on the Japanese and limited editions of the Odyssey, respectively. The former ranks with most of the album, featuring a stellar bass solo from Mike Lepond and great harmonies on the chorus. The latter track, previously released on an import-only compilation (as the ’98 gives away), is a superior reworking of a track from their first album.

Devin Townsend/Strapping Young Lad: Storm, Devour: Normally I would not include them together because the differences between SYL and the DT band are obvious, but since releases for both are scheduled and one song from each has been made available at, why not. The DTB track ranks with most of Ocean Machine, with a more expansive production reminiscent of Terria. The SYL track of course relies on crushing riffs and enraged vocals, and reminded me a bit of the underrated Physicist album.

Treasure Land - Where Tomorrow Will Remain, Voices: Power metal act that has released a handful of albums, these songs are good enough to warrant recommendation, albeit unspectacular. The former track possesses an energy lacking in the genre, while the latter shows some progressive touches.

Voivod – Gasmask Revival, Rebel Robot: With renewed spirit and attention given to their new release The Multiverse, largely due to the presence of Metallicash refugee “Jasonic” Newsted, one of the originators of progressive metal return. Both of these tracks are reminiscent of the Angel Rat days, and the former contains a highly infectious chorus.

Thus ends this chapter…