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Ark - Burn The Sun CD (album) cover

BURN THE SUN

Ark

 

Progressive Metal

4.03 | 215 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Negoba
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Could Have Been So Beautiful

Ark was a prog metal supergroup that produced an extremely promising, though uneven, debut album. For their second album, singer extraordinaire Jorn Lande, multi-faceted prog guitarist Tore Ostby, and drummer John Macaluso added Randy Coven, who was a shred bass aficionado in the guitar mags, and keyboardist Mats Olaussen, who had played with Yngwie Malmsteen. All the pieces were set for a prog metal masterpiece. Unfortunately, Lande led the band further down the melodic power metal path, and the progressiveness is actually less here than on their debut.

That said, this is a monster of a power metal album. The guitars are heavy, the riffs driving, and the chops of the players are phenomenal and on display. The bass deserves special regard here. Randy Coven plays like a demon on this album, let loose like he'd probably never been on record before. Along with providing active, jazz-infused accompaniment, he also gets some unbelievable solo spots, including a percussive face off with Lande doing traditional Indian vocal percussion! Lande is also a force of nature. While other vocalists may have higher ranges in terms of register, there is virtually no metal singer with a broader range of timbre, with different aspects of their voice brought to the music. On this album, Jorn's own identity is consolidating from his myriad influences, and is leagues above the majority of prog metal singers. And while he pulls off the ballads and straight rockers well, they are less interesting for (at least this) prog listener's ears.

My biggest disappointment is that guitarist Ostby doesn't get the chance to truly branch out. His parts are rocking and extremely well constructed, but his flamenco flavored acoustic chops are less prominent here than on the debut. As a result some of the exotic feel of the music is lost. (The flamenco IS still on full display on the song Just a Little, which evokes the Seal song Crazy a little too closely). Tore's metal soloing is typically blistering, and admittedly his metal rhythm parts are just friggin' amazing. I suspect the shift in the balance of influence from equal parts Lande and Ostby to Lande as decided frontman was part of the breakup of the band. (This is painfully clear if you look at the promo pictures from the two albums.)

There ARE a fair number of proggy elements in this album. Intermittent thematic sci-fi references and off time rhythms punctuate the album. Heavy syncopation, jazzy bass, and exotic tonality are frequent visitors. There's just not enough. The little tastes we get are delicious, but this could have been a true feast.

For this review, I came back to listen after checking out some lesser known prog metal outfits. This album is so much better than those that my rating is going to increase as a result. Also, I have not listened to the debut album in a few weeks and I'm better able to judge this one on its own merits. It holds up remarkably well. It's hard to give this album the same rating as the debut, but within the reference point of prog metal, it is appropriate. Ark represents a fairly unique niche in an overpopulated genre, and this album is indeed excellent.

Negoba | 4/5 |

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