Every choice you've made is etched upon its face
Epitaph carved by your actions
Are we searching for a different state of grace?
No one is sure of the answer
Is this just a waiting room for something else?
How can you measure life?
Is it something we must lose to find ourselves?"
One Word Review: Distinguished
The first time I put on this album, and listened to the opening two minutes of Desperation Part I, I knew this was going to be good. Then I looked at the promo material and noticed the members of Redemption, and I started getting very excited. Listening to the whole album for the first time only intensified that feeling. Refreshing and exciting progressive metal is what we have here.
...That was 17 years ago, and my first impression of one, among the hundreds of promos received monthly. What I didn't know at the time, Redemption was about to become my absolute favorite progressive metal band, through their next three albums. It was a journey of incredible depth, emotions and musical wizardry, that I still look back upon with fondness and deep feelings. Though Rick Mythiasin only sang on this album, he is a great part of what makes it work, and he brings amazing depth to the music, by his way of singing. I can only compare him to John Arch of Fates Warning, when trying to put into words, what he accomplished here.
Below is my original review from 2003, word by word.
The members of Redemption are: Rick Mythiasin (former Steel Prophet, now Taraxacum) on vocals, Jason Rullo (Symphony X) on drums, Bernie Versailles (Fates Warning, Agent Steel) on Guitars and mainman behind the band, Nick Van Dyk on Guitars, bass and keyboards. Guest appearances include Ray Alder (Fates Warning) who sings on Desperation Part II, Michael Romeo (Symphony X), who orchestrated of a few symphonic passages and Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), who plays drums on the track As I lay dying.
Nick Van Dyk is the mastermind behind the band, and has written almost all the music and lyrics. The good thing is that he has created some fantastic, massive compositions, that seem to bring out the best in all these talented musicians. With two small masterpieces and three songs of very high quality, this album comes highly recommended. The two masterpieces I'm talking about are the four part suite Desperation and the 24 minute Something Wicked this way comes.
Redemption should appeal to all fans of Progressive Metal. Highly complex compositions with fantastic rhythm and melodies. The music has a dark feel to it, along with a melancholic atmosphere, and an overall haunting feeling. Rick Mythiasin sings better than I've ever heard him sing before, and at times, he even brings back memories of one of my favourite vocalists ever, John Arch (Fates Warning). Rick's voice fits perfect with this music. The level of the vocals is mixed on the same volume as the music, maybe a little lower, and that gives the album a very distinct atmosphere, as it sometimes feels like the vocals are almost swallowed by the the heavy and powerful music.
The feeling I get from this album is like a 68 minute blow of fresh air. There is so much brilliant music to take in, that I know I won't tire of it for a long time. Mostly I'm reminded of a mix between Symphony X and older Fates Warning, but it's very hard to describe music of this high quality justly with words. I'll bring forward a couple of songs to give you an idea of what's going on.
The album opens with Desperation, a four part suite based on the Stephen King Novel of the same name. I'm sorry to say that I haven't read that one... yet... (2020 note: still haven't read it)
Desperation, Part I starts of with a symphonic passage to set the mood. Michael Romeo is the man behind this, as well as the ending passage of Part IV. Soon the song changes with a hard, ominous riff that rips open the dark atmosphere that pervades the whole album. The riff is slightly similar to one found in Metallica's One, but its very cool nonetheless. Rick sings with a lot of feeling and helps give the song the right atmosphere, especially the chorus is breathtaking. There are countless small details in the music, like the way the drums play together with the bass and underline the main riff, and it's this attention to detail that makes this album a joy to listen to, all the way through. I don't want to give everything away, but listen closely to hear how the background sound changes with each verse...
A beautiful piano melody sets of Desperation Part II and along with the voice of Ray Alder, it delivers a fantastic feeling and emotion. After hearing this song a couple of times, I have found it impossible not to sing along every time I hear it... It doesn't take long before the song takes a dive into heaviness and darkness. Notice the fantastic Romeo-like way the guitar lifts the song, and leads it to the chorus, where another brilliant riff brings a lot of power. The chorus evolves with each listen and fits the mood of the song perfectly. This is a fantastic song and a definite highlight.
Desperation Part III and IV concludes the story with equal amounts of power, intensity and emotion. I especially like the way the piano is used to bring atmosphere to the songs, and it makes a nice contrast to the very heavy music. Overall the music in this four part suite is completely mind-blowing, and this has to be one of the best starts to an album ever. I sometimes wish that this story had been extended to form a complete concept album as everything moves really fast... But trust me, you want to hear this four part masterpiece over and over once you get to know it.
After this epic start Nocturnal is a little easier to digest. By no means a simple composition, the song has a heavy rhythm that fits very well with the chorus, where Rick shows his brilliant skills. Also the drum work in this track is very interesting. As I lay dying is the other "short" song in the album. This is a very complex song, filled with rhythm changes and a huge amount of small details, that I only started to notice after repeated listens.
Window to space is a 13 minute song that just seems to fly by. The composition of this song is very impressive, with many small parts that flow together with perfect ease. Rick sings with great presence in his voice, and gives the song a lot of soul. Check out the brilliant part, that starts around 03:30, and lifts the song into another dimension. Fantastic. I especially love the ending part, which feels like a Shadow Gallery meets Iron Maiden moment. Truly Majestic.
With lyrics like "Climb towards the sun and burn your fingers on life. If you're lucky you'll burn your body and soul", this song is inspiring and beautiful, yet still very melancholic.
It is only fitting that an album of this epic scope is finished with the 24:29 minute opus Something wicked this way comes. This song is based upon the book written by Ray Bradbury. I bow my head in shame and testify that I haven't read that one either...
A very dark and brooding atmosphere reigns this song. Starting out slowly, the song quickly builds to a huge musical work, with a thrilling story. All eight parts of this song are woven together to form an epic work of genius. A couple of my favorite parts include the brilliant and powerful Part V: Autumn people and Rick's singing in Part VIII: Departures, which is nothing short of amazing. Also, the keyboard is used in a brilliant way through the song, notice the way it seamlessly blends with the guitar solo around the 23 minute mark. A couple of samples from the movie based on the novel from 1983, are very well utilized to add tension and atmosphere to the song. The fantastic thing is that the song works as well as it does, and it becomes a true masterpiece.
All the way through the album, the music is heavy and powerful, with a very dark atmosphere. All musicians put on exhilarating performances, with no instrument going unheard. Guitar-wise, heavy riffs and melodic solos are abound, the complex drum work sounds like pure genius at times and the bass has a great sound and there are many cool details to listen to. The keyboard plays a big part in the atmosphere, with sweeping piano melodies, and many small background parts. The complexity of the music challenges the listener to sit down and concentrate, otherwise you'll miss loads of little touches. But the beautiful thing about the music, is that you don't absolutely have to sit down and concentrate to enjoy it. The very melodic and powerful nature of the music makes it good to listen to, while doing something else too, the songs still stick in my mind. This is also a huge testament to how well the music has been composed.
Describing the negative aspects of this album can be done very quickly, because I can't find many. The only thing I've noticed is that the drum sound in the verse Desperation Part IV sounds a little off. It takes up too much of the sound and bugs me a little. I also find that Nocturnal and As I lay dying fall a little short of the genius level of the other songs. They are still excellent songs, but not quite up there on the masterful level of the other three. Maybe they are just too short :) ha! Well, this is just nit-picking and doesn't degrade the overall impact of the album.
The music is very complex, and demands some listens before everything falls into place. This is one of those albums that grow better with time, and reading the well written lyrics certainly helps too.
I hope that Redemption is not just a one album project. This is one of the best releases of the year so far and a real gem!
Written By Steen
Online: Sunday, May 10, 2020
Desperation - Part I
Desperation - Part II