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Sieges Even - The Art Of Navigating By The Stars CD (album) cover

THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS

Sieges Even

 

Progressive Metal

4.19 | 292 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

yuastnav
5 stars This is actually the first progressive album that I've listen to and it's also the one that brought me to Progressive music altogether - and made me want to listen to more. The third track, "The lonely views of Condors", was the first track that I've heard from that album and I immediatly liked it. At first I was a little intrigued but the more I listened to it the more I wanted to relisten this song. It still remains as one of my favourite ones from that album (it's actually very hard to give individual ratings to the tracks on this album, if not nigh to impossible), although Markus Steffen, the guitarist, wrote in the forums once (the first forum, the one that suffered from the database crash) that this particular song was merely pieced together from several composed parts.

Even though I assume that opinions will severly differ on that topic, I still consider this album to be somewhat of a concept album. It doesn't explicitly tell a story or tale or something along these lines, it rather tells the story of life in a generalised way, beginning with the first track, the laughter of a newborn, and ending with dark music and foreshadowing lyrics (a similar theme is used in the end of the song "Stigmata" and in the beginning of the second track, implying circular character of life). This idea is found throughout the whole album and ends with Styx - a very fitting name for the last song - the river of death. The lyrics themselves have a slightly medieval touch (the band, or rather Markus Steffen, cited Lord Byron and Shakespeare as their/his influences, though I cannot recall that correctly anymore), although this may just have been my first impression. Still, the lyrics contain so much, more ore less cryptic, imagery and metaphors, it's just enjoyment listening to them and imagining what thought may have crossed these guys' minds while they wrote them.

Even though I think I recall Arno Menses, who became their new vocalist at that time, saying, that he was quite nervous about singing on that new album so that he couldn't bring out his full potential. Whether or not that is true, his singing remains very melodic and beautiful. Of course it is quite a change compared to their 1991 album "A Sense of Change" (which is sadly the only of their older albums that I've had a chance to listen to) and Jögi Kaiser's "jazzy" style of singing but Arno does an excellent job at establishing himself as the band's new singer in that constellation (which, unfortunately, didn't last all too long after that). It fits Markus melodic way of playing the guitar perfectly. The distorted parts on this album are nice and heavy, the solos are great yet they aren't too protruding which could've hurt the wonderful interplay of the vocals and instrumental parts; the use of Markus' classical guitar is amazing, an instrument I haven't been privileged to hear too often in progressive metal.

The Holzwarth brothers are another thing that really amazed me with this album. Until now I never thought about the Bass as such a strong instrument as it is used here; this album really widened my perception of music in respect of that instrument. The bass is not employed as a bass in the sense of today's rock music (sorry, but as I said - my first prog album), it's being used as a real bass-guitar here. The interplay between Markus' guitar and Oliver's bass is hard to convey in words. It's delighting to hear the bass and the guitar changing back and forth between their roles as rhythm and solo instruments. Same thing goes for Alex, too. The drums provide a consistent background and whenever a climax point is reached they hit it big (that is especially the case in Stigmata, atlhough "climax point" may be a bit exaggerated, I just couldn't find a more fitting expression).

It's also an amazing thing to notice, that Sieges Even doesn't have a keyboard player or an additional musician. They keep it very simplistic with the guitars, bass and drums - maybe an effect thrown in here or there. The only time where an additional instrument comes into play is the flute in "Lighthouse". As far as I recall, again - Markus said that in the forums, it was an improvisation of someone who was in the studio when they recorded the album. It couldn't be more fitting though. The flute is preceded by the guitar and it gives the whole song an interesting new direction, a slight classical touch. It's great how the song is pieced together and how these two acoustic instruments are incorporated into the combination of the other electric instruments.

The only thing that really bothered me a little is the intro of "Blue Wide Open". For some reason I am somehow irritated by that vocals only part right at the beginning of the song - it's just something I cannot put my finger on. Still, once you get past that you can look forward to hear Markus at work, who has actually been helped by Oliver Holzwarth, the bassist. That's why that beginning cannot really change my opinion on that five star rating. Everything about that album is just right. It's always a joy to resign these beautiful lyrics or to play whole passages in your head and after all these years I'm still not tired from it. I just hope these guys had as great of a time producing that album as I have listening to it.

As for the songs: I will abstain from giving each song an own review. The only thing that is worthy of mention is how great the songs have been pieced together e.g. the ambience effects that have been used to connect some of them etc. I hope this first review of mine may have given you a little more insight into the music of Sieges Even. Of all the four albums I've listened to (A Sense of Change, The Art of Navigating by the Stars, Paramount, Playgrounds) this one is, in my opinion, the best one.

yuastnav | 5/5 |

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