through the beautiful gates of symbolic conviction
that challenged the reign.
Stay with me, don't be afraid to believe
in man's infinite search for the truth in his world
and his right to portray the romantic face of legend
One Word Review: Elysian
Once upon a time, when I started my long journey into the world of Heavy Metal, I often found bands that gave me a really special feeling, while I listened to their music for the first time. It was a feeling of awe and amazement that music was able to create such vivid emotions and atmospheres. Nowadays I don't get this feeling very often. Maybe it is because too many bands sound too similar or that I have so much new music to go through, that I am not able to get into the music in the same way. I'm afraid it is a mix of both these reasons.
Saviour Machine is one of those awe-inspiring bands that it is worth to take the time to get really into. Their music is filled with atmosphere and above all emotion. With their second album they take a great leap forward and it pretty much defines their style. The music is more relaxed and laid back than the debut but the band has improved in every area and when they let go they really let go. In short this is one of those albums that feels complete.
In some ways I find it futile to describe a band such as Saviour Machine as my words won't be sufficient to convey the incredible beauty of the music. Since I'm writing this review, of course now I will give it a try :), but in the case of Saviour Machine hearing is believing. That said, Saviour Machine is surely not for everybody. Some may find the music boring or way over the top. Not me, right from the first time I listened to this album I was spellbound by Eric's voice, the imaginative instrumentation and the mystical ambience that filled the air while listening. The album has the ability to transport the listener to another realm of conscience, where the outside world slips away and all that is left is the music.
To describe the music in few words I would call it a close relative of Progressive Metal with a dark, slightly gothic and theatrical atmosphere that bubbles with melody. Progressive in the sense that it pushes the boundaries of what I have ever heard before. It is music that keeps on giving and giving if you let it, so be patient. The musicians are extremely talented and every instrument has so much detail that I can concentrate on one of them for the whole record and not get bored.
The most immediate, unique element of the band is singer Eric Clayton, who has one of the most distinguished voices I've heard. He portrays a wide spectrum of emotions, be it sadness, despair, anger or pure unbound moments of hope, he captures them all in the most chilling way. He has a prominent vibrato which may put some people of, but I think it adds tremendously to the intensity of his voice. Another unique element is Jeff Clayton's guitar playing. He wrings a certain tone from his guitar that is a perfect fit for the band.
The piano is also a very important element in the music. It is in all songs and its tone adds another important layer to the music.
In fear of making this review way too long, I will try to comment shortly on the songs.
Saviour Machine I opens with a quiet piano and a special mood is set right from the start. The other instruments enter the sound with a bombastic force and Eric's voice blends in perfectly, underlining the atmosphere with his deep melancholic voice. Simple choirs are used to give the music a mystical otherworldly feel and work very well. A very cool introduction to the world of Saviour Machine, but you have not even heard half of it yet.
The album continues with a beautiful acoustic guitar intro before chaos ensues in Enter the idol. This is probably where you will first notice the unique guitar playing of Jeff Clayton. I have always been amazed at the way the his playing flows together with Eric's voice, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of the songs while adding a great amount of emotion.
The chaotic atmosphere continues in The hunger circle. This is an amazing song, where just trying to follow the drums almost puzzles me. A haunting keyboard melody plays a central part, while Eric's voice and the extremely high pitched guitar notes flow together like a dream. In fact this song is like a wicked nightmare you can't wake from. Some vocal distortion in the chorus is the only thing I don't like. But I have never been a fan of that.
Child in silence continues guiding the listener through a sea of emotions. The exciting opening moments raise the intensity level high before the middle section where Eric's voice changes from ominous to more open and emotional.
Ascension of heroes has always been one of my favorites of this album. If you want to get a taste of Eric's voice then listen to this song. His voice has an ethereal feel here that captures the essence of the song beautifully and it hits me with power each time I hear it. Slowly fading away the beauty is overpowered by a judgement-day chaotic feel as the 16 minute epic The Stand takes off. A very complex song with many varying passages, this one took a very long time to open up. It has to be experienced.
American Babylon is in short, a riveting song. It has one of the saddest beginnings to a song I have ever heard. There is a great intensity in Eric's voice, which slowly rises in tune with the instrumentation. When the song reaches its climax the feeling is nothing short of majestic.
Ceremony is another favorite. In the opening moments the piano plays a foreboding melody, while the guitar quietly creeps up on it before being joined by deep ominous drums. The stage is set for a gripping song.
Love never dies is a close relative of Ascension of heroes and again a very beautiful song. Enuff said.
The albums comes full circle with one of my favorite songs ever, Saviour Machine II. There is something magical and transcendent about this deeply spiritual song. Just above 5 minutes of beautiful and chilling music all the way through. I feel my blood run cold whenever I hear this song and though I know why, I cannot explain it properly. Eric sings with authority and an incredible amount of emotion, pronouncing the words with emphasis in just the right places. The guitar cries out its notes and united with Eric's voice, this is a perfect harmony. The drums and bass give the song its slow floating rythm and alltogether this song has the power to transport the listener to another place. So close your eyes and drift away.
I have not touched upon the lyrics through the review, because they are really up to each person to decode. I say decode because I find them very cryptic, filled with metaphors and it is only with close reading and great concentration that I begin to grasp some of their meaning. They describe a journey, that is in itself a journey to understand.
Saviour Machine - II is a timeless album that will live beyond several thousands listens and still you won't have the same experience each time you hear it. Recommended from the deepest darkest edge of my soul.
The time has come, and so the band plays on,
releasing his power and shouting in tears,
"It is finished, do you see
the light of the saviour inside this machine?"
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012 - ProgPower87
Steen, Great to see you have the site back up. I always appreciated your insight. In addition, some of your favorite releases of all time seem to align very closely with my own. Case in point, Saviour Machine. While admittedly not in the vocabulary of most metal fans, their work is truly incredible. I'm not as big a fan of the Legend series as I am of Saviour Machine I and II, but have a great deal of admiration for Eric Clayton. His voice and stage presence (from the Live in Deutchland video) are commanding. It's a shame more folks have never been exposed to Savior Machine. Indeed they are missing something special.
Thursday, August 2, 2012 - Steen
Thanks, it's great to be back! I'm seeing Saviour Machine live for the first time in Zwolle in about a month and I really can't wait. I'll be warming up with the DVD you mentioned.