A MUST BUY!!
As I open up the first music file to grace my computer since returning to becoming a music critic, I immediately recognise the name Redemption. Until now, this power prog outfit had only been a name to watch for in my musical travels as something not to be ignored, but never actually getting around to checking them out. I knew that they were up on a par with such legends of the prog world as Symphony X and Opeth. Not perhaps the dizzying heights of Dream Theater, but a pretty high pedestal nonetheless.
The first thing to strike me during the first couple of minutes of the album’s title track 'The Art Of Loss' was the contrast of Ray Alder's mid-range vocal meeting with Nick Van Dyk's expertly written and played guitar riffs and lead parts. Initially I found this to be a little incongruent, expectant as I was for the soaring power metal wails and upper range vocal control, but it grew on me in a big way by the start of 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'. The more I thought on it, one comparison I made was Gary Moore fronting Threshold. Not a bad combination for me, I assure you. The more I heard, the more I began to grow attached, almost reliant on the constant rhythm section changes and guitar/synth solos that grace this opus in abundance. It became apparent very early on that this album was going to be a masterpiece, and one that would grace my ears for pleasure many more times to come.
As a newcomer to this band I was unsure what to expect but was more than pleasantly surprised by what awaited me. Intelligently written lyrics addressing how we as humans deal with our emotions and drawing upon those experiences in a positive light. Sublime guitar work and synth accompaniment permeate this entire record from start to finish making it all but impossible to point out any particular high point as there were no low points to address. My particular favourites if pressed to comment had to be the 'Slouching Toward Bethlehem', the aggressive 'Thirty Silver', and the epic 'At Days End'. One other track deserving of particular accolade was the stunning cover of 'Love Rain O'er Me', originally performed by 'The Who'. This as many would agree was arguably one of the finest vocal tracks ever recorded by Roger Daltrey, and some would say by any vocalist ever. John Bush (Anthrax/Armoured Saint) makes a guest appearance here in counterpoint to Ray Alder doing justice to the benchmark performance by Daltrey, and absolutely nailing it! Performances by bassist Sean Andrews and Drummer Chris Quirarte are comparable to some of Myung and Portnoy's finest moments. They are the understated glue of the rhythm section holding everything together like the all-powerful god in the crowd that keeps his presence a mystery yet palpable at the same time.
This is an essential buy as albums go, and an opportunity to not be missed.
Words by Paul Clarke.