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Black Symphony - Black Symphony CD (album) cover

BLACK SYMPHONY

Black Symphony

 

Progressive Metal

3.08 | 5 ratings

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aapatsos
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars From the album's liner notes, it is evident that BLACK SYMPHONY is virtually a one-man's vision. Rick Plester is the name of the main man behind this - beautifully and successfully named - project, who with his heavy guitar melodies and crunchy keyboard sounds has produced an interesting amalgam of different musical forces.

Released in 1998, this debut shows its musical directions even from the first few tunes: powerful, dynamic and guitar-oriented American progressive metal, supported by the use of acute piano notes and a range of orchestral keyboard sounds. Mike Pierce sings in a relatively strange way, at least for prog metal. The main vocal influences seem to be bands from the alternative-metal scene and this is passed onto the overall character of the album. Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine and Faith No More influences are noticeable. Guitar playing is coming straight from classic metal and American power metal backgrounds. The use of piano sounds in conjunction with heavy guitars sounds as a pleasant novel combination particularly in tracks like Breathe and End of your Life.

The album starts off in an energetic mood with three compositions on a medium-high tempo, dominated by crisp heavy guitars always accompanied by keyboards. However, the focus is constantly put on vocal and backing-vocal melodies even though Mike Pierce's voice sounds relatively aggressive leaning towards more alternative forms. The middle part is somewhat more experimental with more keyboard sections and slow-changing-to-aggressive parts. A few eastern music influences appear in The Poor/The Edge and The Wind that reminded me of Amorphis' Elegy album. Although the album's middle part is not as appealing as the opening, tracks like The Poor/The Edge and Listen involve the best guitar work on this debut.

Period of Mourning returns to the character of the opening tracks on more contemporary forms and mid-tempo beautiful guitar and vocal melodies even if it lasts only 2.5 mins, being the shortest track of the album, before the closing 12 min title track. The Black Symphony's first 5 minutes displays a melodic piano main theme which through Helloween-like riffs builds up to a - yet again - heavy refrain and falls back to the opening melodies. From there on, a symphonic interval, a hard rock guitar theme and solo and an experimental drum/keyboards passage conclude the track relatively indifferently.

This album came in a shiny, impressive all-black plastic case (limited edition) costing 2-3 euros near its time of release and was a pleasant surprise. It can be judged as a positive and promising debut with some excellent and novel ideas, even if you get the feel that the compositions are missing something. The combination of progressive metal with alternative rock/metal forms is interesting - and thus is recommended to fans of the respective genres - but the repeated aggressiveness in the singing might sound tiring.

Highlights: the opening Never and Breathe as well as Period of Mourning

aapatsos | 3/5 |

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