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Stream Of Passion - Embrace The Storm CD (album) cover

EMBRACE THE STORM

Stream Of Passion

 

Prog Related

3.87 | 86 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Before you read any further, please take care to notice what category this album is in: Prog-Related. Therefore claims of "lacking progginess" only amount to so much. Anyway, it is true that STREAM OF PASSION's first album, Embrace the Storm, has more popular elements than most of ARJEN LUCASSEN's works.

First we'll deal with the bad news. The songs tend to run short--none reaches the 6-minute mark, and the other real weakness in my mind is that MARCELA BOVIO wrote the lyrics...and they're pretty much the kind of lovey-dovey/angsty stuff you'd expect to be written by a woman (this comes from a female reviewer). They're not unpleasant, but be ready to ignore them if you're looking for something more serious. I might have also recommended that one or two songs not be on here. Probably a lot would've been solved by cutting "Nostalgia", which isn't bad at all, but by that point it just gets a little bit old. Dedicated LUCASSEN fan that I am, I find myself looking at BOVIO as the reason for this--her voice doesn't really vary in timbre, and her lyrics don't give you much to hold on to over the course of the album.

However, now that I have all of the bad news out of the way, let's move on to the good news, and there's a lot of it to be found!

First, MARCELA BOVIO's voice is outstanding. Don't let yourself be scared by the idea of female-fronted metal or hard-rock bands like NIGHTWISH--BOVIO could sing circles around TARJA TURUNEN any day. The song "Deceiver" does better than any other on the album in showing off her full vocal range, which proves her an effective singer in both lower and higher registers. Turning to "Breathing Again," I'm not sure why, but I particularly like her delivery of the line "what so many long for" throughout the song.

Also, if we must consider this album pop, or pop-inspired, then this is pop with real musicianship unlike most of what's out there. LUCASSEN himself plays rhythm guitars and throughout the album proves he can really rock, especially on the heaviest tracks like "Haunted". The lead guitarist, LORI LINSTRUTH, proves (in spite of BOVIO's lyrics!) that girls really can rock--she'd be perfectly at home among fast-playing guitarists like MICHAEL J. ROMEO and JOHN PETRUCCI, and time will certainly continue to improve her skills. But she isn't a one-sided guitarist by any means--she also proves she can play soulfully in songs like "Open Your Eyes", where she summons a Jeff Beck-like weeping-wailing sound from her guitar. Finally, I found myself really appreciating the subtle touch of ALEJANDRO MILLAN's piano on tracks like "Passion" (you'll need headphones to detect it during the chorus) and "Calliopeia", where the effect is more obvious.

Some of the songs feature sounds that you've probably never heard on AYREON albums--such as the distorted-sounding drums that open and close the album. Also, the string accompaniments take on a more strongly Eastern flavoring than I've ever heard LUCASSEN sustain for a real length of time on any AYREON album, especially on tracks like "Passion" and "Calliopeia". And yes...there is the AYREON resemblance on some songs--some of the heavy songs are a bit reminiscent of "Tower of Hope," although not making any direct borrowings. The resemblance is stronger on the string riff in "Passion", but most obviously on "Embrace the Storm," which could almost be "Carried by the Wind, Part II". That's not a bad thing, though--I enjoy that song a lot, and by the end when you hear all of the strange combinations and permutations on the string riff in the chorus, you can tell it's its own piece.

Overall, I give this album a 3.5--but this is the kind of 3.5 that comes with a "very strong buy" recommendation if you think you can deal with the little issues. Still, I'm very happy to round it up to a 4. And especially if you're a fan of LUCASSEN, you will want this album in your collection.

FloydWright | 4/5 |

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