In case you haven't noticed, all my reviews are for death and black metal bands. This is NOT a typical review for me. Time Requiem (Regain Records) is an incredible group of musicians very influenced by classical music adapted into the genre of progressive metal. Regardless of your personal tastes, as a musician you find yourself at times unable to ignore music you would not normally pay attention to. This record had that effect on me. It is simply brilliant.
I had the house to myself for a weekend, a rarity in my life. As I was working in the snake room, I started putting on promos I had to review. I went through the first minute or two of a few discs and took them off immediately, as I could not review them. They were too different from what I listen to, and in my opinion the records sucked, so I put them in the "pass it on" pile to be sent to others who write for clubkingsnake.com.
I had a few beers in me and was enjoying my time with my snakes working, but for the distracting shitty music I had been trying to get into. Then I put on Optical Illusion. At first I laughed, as the super technical doodling instantly gave me an idea of what I was in for. I was dead wrong. This record is so incredible I feel as if I must look deeper into this world of progressive metal, as apparently I may be missing out on some excellent music. Keyboard virtuoso Richard Andersson formed this band after deciding to take things in a bit of a different direction after his former band Majestic was put on hold, though from what I understand Majestic and Time Requiem are similar to each other.
As the disc played on I was just blown away. The musicianship was just flawless. I mostly concentrate on the guitar, but the keyboards on this record could be mistaken for a guitar at times - a shredding guitar no less. Phenomenal, seriously breathtaking. The problem I have with prog in general is that I always relate it to older music I have heard, and cannot help but refer to the master Malmsteen. Many years ago, he had made many metal heads aware of the classical composers' genius by taking influence from their music and turning it into metal, and he himself probably spawned this genre as far as metal goes.
Many a guitar player will boast, "Yeah man, I play just like Malmsteen." In reality, they don't. However, this guitar player definitely does. Magnuss Nilsson seems to run through all the motions of neo-classical shredder effortlessly. Combine that with the amazing keyboard master Richard Andersson and you have an incredible package. The entire band is just a precise machine that at times seems to be just showing off and I love it. This disc was played three or four times in a row that night, and I've been listening to it regularly for a long time now.
Since this is so far out of the realm of what I usually listen to, it's hard to know what comparisons to use. Dream Theatre and Rising Force certainly came to mind. I'm sure people who listen to this type of metal could be a lot more specific, but know this: This is not so over the top in the way of metal that people who like hard rock would hate it. The vocalist is a singer, not a screamer, 110 percent melodic, and a very good one at that. His voice complements the music well, and what is most appealing about the band is that a lot of the music that has vocals is not overly technical. It is not a total showoff record, it has a lot of moments where the song is quite basic and very easy to take in and enjoy. Then when it is time to showcase the musicianship they let it rip.
I especially like the fact that when the guitar is soloing there's no rhythm guitar track, only the bass is carrying the song, and it makes it easy to focus on this perfectly composed music. It is metal, no doubt, but this is practically an art form of its own. It's a group of musicians who seemed to write a perfect record. There's enough room for egos to make their point as masters of their instruments, and yet somehow still were able to keep things shackled with melody and memorable songs until it was time to unleash the shredding. Being a death metal, guy there are a few moments that I really do not like at all, but over all I found this record to be astounding and even influential. If you want to be blown away by a band that just captures the intricacy of classical music and yet keeps things modern, atmospheric and melodic yet heavy, buy this record. It is a masterpiece.