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Overhead - Of Sun and Moon CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.79 | 83 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Overhead is a progressive band from Finland and their fourth and latest studio album is a real treasure full of innovation and masterful musicianship. Each composition has a diverse structure, rather different from the track preceding it, and in this the album exudes a refreshing feeling as the music tends to move from heavy metal riffs to tranquil passages of beauty. The emotional music is helped by the diversity in musical instruments; Alex Keskitalo is an excellent flautist, along with very effective vocals throughout, Jaakko Kettunen adds aggression on heavy guitars, and some wonderful soloing, Tarmo Simonen augments the sound with ambient keyboards, and piano, along with swathes of synthesizers, Janne Pylkk'nen holds things together on bass, with some infectious grooves to hook into, and all is overseen with the accomplished percussion work of Ville Sj'blom.

The album begins with definitive prog metal on 'Lost Inside 2', with some Dream Theater riffs, and an epic chorus. This is soon followed by 'Berlin', that has a melodic guitar phrase and some soaring solo work sprinkled over the top. Almost seamlessly 'An Afternoon of Sun and Moon' takes over and is definitely a break away from the heavy intricate riffing to make way for the sweet sound of keyboards and gentler nuances. It even has a reggae rhythm and some odd vocals that move from clean low tones to a high register. The chorus builds well with electro melodies and retro synths. Next is 'Aftermath' that sounds unique with an electronic pulse and lovely harmonies. The guitar reverb has a spacey vibe, and alternative style vox enhances the feel. The chorus gets heavier as the guitars crash in. The synth really shines on this and is effectively high pitched and smooth in texture, and there is a flute sound combating the more heavier sounds; like Ultravox meets Dream Theater.

The drums are rather erratic on 'Syriana' that purposefully encompasses Oriental nuances. The rhythm is jagged and has a very different style to previous tracks. A spacey middle section reminds me of the glistening chiming keyboards on The Doors' 'Riders On The Storm'. A highlight of this is the extended lead guitar solo that powers out some tremendous licks. This one is a rollercoaster ride of eclectic styles and one of the highlights. 'Grotte' follows as an instrumental with tribal drums and scorching guitar work, absolutely mesmirising and with some very fast arpeggios and hammering. The flute is silky smooth and haunting. Parts of this have a spacey atmosphere and overall it is a beautiful piece of music leading to the bombastic final tracks.

'Last Broadcast' is a psychedelic track especially enhanced with fuzzy guitar and spacey textures. The vocals are nicely performed here, some of the best on the album, and there is an electronic vibe that is endearing breaking away from the heavier riffs. The lyrics are memorable, 'electrified, or to not let go, to softly say no, electrified, like I'm always lost in snow, gone.' Parts of this are very dreamy, but it has a downbeat darkness and the guitar distortion is lurking around the corner ready to break through. Eventually the guitars return and powers out a simple but effective riff, and the structure spins out of control in an extended coda to draw it to a satisfying conclusion. This is one of the best songs I have heard over recent years.

'Alive' is a mini epic with very strong vocals and uplifting melodies. The guitar soloing is incredible and it competes nicely with the flute as the two instruments trade off nicely. The melodies on this are more uplifting and again the vocals are excellent. The album is absolutely improving on every track which makes a pleasant change. I love the melodies on this and the lyrics in that infectious chorus, 'we're coming alive again, the silence has ended, it's morning the dawning of everything, coming in from the cold, the kaamos descending, tomorrow from beyond the sea.' After the second chorus the rhythm moves to a kind of techno disco feel and this is curiously effective. I love the synth swirls and the pulsating disco bass pulse. It is such a diverse detour into this style that it works beautifully balancing out all the heaviness preceding. As the crystalline synths chime and the flute warbles dreamily through there are outbursts of distorted guitar. Eventually a crunching riff dominates and I love that sound at 5:30. Synths join in with a darkened melody and some crashing percussion beats. There is a false ending and then we are treated to a glorious lead guitar break with soaring string bends and this culminates on another chorus to bring it to an end. Easily the greatest track on the album for me as I have rarely heard such a retro 80s sound merged with the current metal vibe done so brilliantly.

'Angels and Demons' closes the album with another melodic uplifting song driven by guitars and some wonderful flute. This one has a Therion style cinematic feel with bombastic epic intro and an odd time sig in the verses. Again the style diversifies with time changes, and flute trilling. An extended lead break balances out staccato piano breaks with Zorba the Greek banging notes, and more retro synths and operatic vocals. This one is deliriously all over the place and it is glorious.

The album packaging is creative with some weird schematic drawings of the human anatomy and other odd structures, and all is designed in 3D (it was a nice touch to include the 3D glasses with this album too!). The 3D images jump off the cover in a wonderful digipak gatefold, and it works well as an innovative bonus, along with the lyrics embedded in the design.

At the end of the album one is left with a profound sense that they have heard a special album with some moments of brilliance along the way. The album moves away from the prog metal that launched it, and towards the end the music has transformed into some psychedelic alternative rock. There is even a smattering of some oddball disco beats, but it all works well to maintain the interest of the listener. I would definitely recommend 'Of Sun and Moon' as a piece of very accomplished musicianship and accessible heavy prog. The vocals are never too raspy and at times are sung with powerhouse emotion. The riffs never dominate for too long and there is enough here to satiate the palate of most proggers who enjoy eclectic prog sounds tinged with spacey psychedelica.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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