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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

4.17 | 282 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Postulate
3 stars Lots of praise for this one, and it's understandable why - prog metal fans have a fetish for polish, and this album is nothing if not slick. A little too slick, if you ask me, though...I do miss the way that Sieges Even would employ instrumentals in the past to explore their music rather than just decorate it.

The elements of a well-crafted release are all here: thick, swimming bass, vocal lines that are Yes-like, but more reserved and intimate (it's gotta sound "mature," don't you know), and clockwork Rush riffs sprinkled with Sieges Even's own homegrown prog crunch that brings to mind an appropriately oceanic atmosphere. I feel, however, that that instrumentals are lacking on this album, and for the most part they serve as little more than a means to segue between Arno Menses' vocal deliveries. There are some exceptions, but they are altogether too brief and scattered. The breakdown in the middle of the final track, Styx, is illustrative of this - suddenly, a refreshing dynamic change that throws the listener into a mash of start-stop guitar crunch reminiscent of late Fates Warning...and then it segues perfectly into a bass-led melody...and then it returns...and repeats...and ends. It starts, but decides to move on before it goes anywhere. The reviewer weeps for fond memories of Tangerine Windows of Solace, all of whose themes and ideas were dissected and scrambled seven ways from Tuesday (in a way that would make all but the most patient fan nauseous, but damn, were they rigorous about it). That's not to say the progressive instrumentals aren't there, but they are taking a backseat this time around, and the album is primarily a series of pleasant melodies adorned, rather than commanded by, the three fantastic instrumentalists this band has to offer. This is a trend that I dislike in Siege's Even's music, and one that would continue on into Paramount.

That's not to say the decoration I'm talking about is bad - far from it. Steffen's plucking during The Lonely Views of Condors ("Now I'm soaring on lost latitudes...") is perfect, and Oliver Holzwarth's bass gives the album a constant feeling of depth and foreboding (and how appropriate, given the album content). I just long for some juicy prog deliberation and reassembly is all; the closest we get is the fantastic solo during To the Ones Who Have Failed (again, these guys were *clearly* listening to Fates Warning), and that's not quite enough for me. The repeating theme of the album, which appears three times and seems to unite some sort of concept, feels tacked on, though the sound of the music as a whole is cohesive. This leads to a climax at the end of Styx that overstays its welcome and softens the blow of an otherwise overwhelming track - you don't HAVE to bookend the album for symmetry, especially when it distracts from the goal of the songs. Other than that, however, the feel of the album is superb; you can hear a lot of fear and courage mixed into it, from the gentle nursery melody that starts Lighthouse (highly reminiscent of Dream Theater's Through Her Eyes, at least to my ears) to the bizarre climbing one-note guitar riff in Stigmata. It's definitely an original work in many ways, and for the *most* part it's a pretty intense emotional experience.

HOWEVER! Sometimes this sentimentality is overblown - the lyrics move from one vivid metaphor to the next, many of which are cliched or unbelievable in context. Check out the vocal harmony that opens Blue Wide Open. No thanks! Though in all fairness the track is salvaged by some nice acoustic guitar work. Furthermore, there's some rambling going on - The Weight in particular (a track that reminds me of Yes' Machine Messiah) meanders, and some of the later vocal stuff is stale ("The more we wait for things to change / The more they stay the same / And the more they stay the same / We change") Ay ay ay. And, as a final criticism, the production is a double-edged sword, as with most modern prog metal. It's clean, but lacks dynamic contrast in many places.

That's about all I have to say! This is good but not amazing. Three stars.

Postulate | 3/5 |

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