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THIS MORTAL COIL

Redemption

Progressive Metal


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3 stars Redemption returns with their fifth studio album.

This band has it's origins as a home for ex Symphony X and Fates Warning members. Listening to this album, the Fates Warning link is pretty obvious. Them and some pretty strong Dream Theater connotations. The result is an all out assault of power, or prog metal as it is listed as in ProgArchives.

The vocals are OK. The instrumentations is rhythm guitars with guitars and keyboards as solo instruments. Mostly guitars, though. The vocals also drives the melodies here.

The result is a good power metal album. Not the most interesting album I have ever heard. Then again, power/prog metal is not on my list of genres I prefer listening to. But I find nothing offensive on this album and nothing great either. This is a pretty standard prog/power metal album which will probably get this band new fans.

3 stars

Report this review (#539555)
Posted Saturday, October 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Here is a metal album in the same vein as the type of metal you may expect from Symphony X. Fates Warning vocalist Ray Alder certainly is as good as he was with that legendary band and his voice never falters from loud high register to a gentler cadence on the softer songs. The metal is driven hard by the dextrous lead guitar work of Nick Van Dyk. He also provides keyboards where it is needed. He is joined by the rhythm of guitarist Bernie Versailles. The final piece of the band is provided by the rhythm machine of Chris Quirarte on drums and Sean Andrews on bass.

The first thing one may notice from the outset is that the riffs have a proclivity to sound like Metallica, at one point the early Metallica sound is protuberant on the first songs on the album. The voice is always sparkling and resilient, every lyric is audible, and Alder injects passion and power into his performance. The lead breaks are a part of the overall sound and they are handled deftly by the fret melting work of Van Dyk. Certain lead solos are absolutely brilliant, with speed sweep picking, pitchy squeals and fast hammer ons, especially notable on 'Dreams From The Pit', 'Noonday Devil' and 'Departure of the Pale Horse' (the best song on the album).

The vocal work is astonishing at times, the high falsetto comes into play often and is never overbearing, rather part of the passionate thematic content, such as on 'Perfect' or 'Begin Again'. There is a type of concept on the album revolving around Biblical references such as the fall of the devil and temptation in the garden, and of course at the end Revelation is referenced in the awesome mini epic 'Departure of the Pale Horse'. The album seems to become more progressive in style the further into it especially with the ethereal intro to 'Noonday Devil' and the time sig structure of 'Let It Rain'.

The quieter songs are always an excellent balance to all the shredding. The guitars are downtuned to emit the classic galloping riff style often heard in 80s metal. The band have an approach to their music that is at times dark in content, (especially on the section where whispered voices tell the protagonist that they are alone in the dark and prayer is useless), but the sound is not offensive, due to easy listening vocals, and neither ground breaking in terms of innovation. The album will appeal to listeners with a penchant for Symphony X or Dream Theater, and that is perhaps my highest recommendation.

Report this review (#547880)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Every new album from Redemption is something to celebrate in the progressive metal community, especially considering that this American powerhouse has been on quite a winning streak lately. Hot off the heels of the killer Snowfall on Judgment Day is This Mortal Coil, the fifth full-length album from Redemption. Everything that we've come to expect from Redemption is here in full force - powerful and technical guitar riffs, lush keyboard palettes, outstanding musicianship, and powerful vocal lines that can only be delivered by Ray Alder. This Mortal Coil is ultimately a successful entry into their discography, yet I can't help but feel a bit let down by a few key aspects of this release. Although this is musically an outstanding album, the production flaws and uneven mix leave my enthusiasm for This Mortal Coil a bit more restrained than it should be. Fans of Redemption should be sure to check it out, but this isn't the best starting point for those new to the band.

Those familiar with Redemption should immediately recognize the sound on This Mortal Coil. Expect a strong influence from Dream Theater, Fates Warning, and Symphony X within the sound, even though Redemption does have their own distinct brand of progressive metal. The songs are generally pretty conventional and accessible (in a good way), and always contain unforgettable choruses and killer riffs. The technical acrobatics of the band are as impressive as ever, and plenty of furious guitar and keyboard duals always keep things interesting. This Mortal Coil's most appealing factor, for me at least, is the vocal performance from Ray Alder of Fates Warning. Even though he may not hit those same notes he used to sing in the late eighties, he proves that he's still one of the most powerful and emotional vocalists in the prog metal world. The melodic sensibilities of his singing style parred with the extremely memorable songwriting structures make for plenty of unforgettable moments contained within This Mortal Coil.

In most regards, This Mortal Coil is a near-flawless album. Actually, the quality of musicianship and songwriting are so high that I may even consider it one of Redemption's best albums to date. So what is the hold-up that restrains my full enjoyment of this album? Unfortunately, it's the iffy production and uneven mix. Even though the album doesn't sound horrible, the sound here is hardly excusable for a band with this much reputation and popularity within their respective genre. The sound comes across as overly compressed and distorted, and the mix seems to emphasize all of the wrong things. The vocals are awfully low in the mix, often being drowned out by a flood of loudly-mastered riffs and drums. The loud and compressed production certainly doesn't do a prog metal album any justice, and I really wish that Redemption would re-produce this album sometime in the future. The current sound quality ends up nearly crippling all of the album's other assets - something that I will rarely say, especially in this day and age.

In spite of its glaring production flaws, This Mortal Coil is still a very successful observation from Redemption that most fans of the band should check out. I've had a really good time experiencing this album, and there are enough killer tunes here to keep me revisiting again in the future from time to time. With songwriting and musicianship this strong, it's hard not to at least be left somewhat impressed by This Mortal Coil. The album is dragged down by a poor production, but the redeeming qualities are still enough to warrant a 3.5 star rating.

Report this review (#551575)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'This Mortal Coil' - Redemption (5/10)

Being formed by members of Symphony X and Fate's Warning, it does not come as much of a surprise that Redemption are one of the most talked about progressive metal bands these days. Now close to a decade old, this supergroup has now put out five albums, all falling within a fairly close style to its parent acts. 'This Mortal Coil' is the most recent album from these titans, and anyone who has heard what Redemption is all about before should have a good idea of what to expect here. Redemption's latest falls into an ever-growing category of albums that while incredibly impressive from a production and performance standpoint, ultimately fails to move me in any way. For all of the talent exerted here, it is all the more disappointing that the end result is little more than a run-of-the-mill melodic power metal record.

Glorious things have been done in the past by both Fate's Warning and Symphony X, and I would even have some great things to say about some of the music that Redemption has released in the past. However, I get the feeling that the label of prog metal is being watered down now to the point where it is perhaps unintentionally crossing over into power metal and even melodic rock much more than it did when the fusion of prog and heavy metal was still young. If there is one thing that progressive metallers and Redemption in particular have however, it is musical skill. This is a well-produced album with strong performance and even a handful of jaw-dropping instrumental sections. The times where the band breaks into technical segments or solos is where Redemption really shines, sounding a great deal like the bombastic instrumentals of Symphony X. Sadly, the proggy moments have been toned down on 'This Mortal Coil' in favour of more melodies.

All in all, the melodies and songwriting here are both fairly good, although it is most often predictable. One thing that surprised me here was the voice of Ray Alder, for the fact that his delivery here is so much different than his work with Fate's Warning that I have heard; he aims towards a soothing melodic delivery that nails pitch perfectly, yet I can't say that I prefer this dimension of Alder. I would never deny that Redemption have talent- they are in fact a collaboration of some of the most gifted and enduring musicians in progressive metal. All the same, their work on 'This Mortal Coil' feels tame and predictable. This streamlined effort is reminiscent of the disappointment I felt with Symphony X's latest release. Where I'm left wanting a roller coaster, I'm stuck riding a tilt-a-whirl, albeit a very well-oiled one.

Report this review (#552011)
Posted Monday, October 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a difficult review that I 've tried to avoid writing. In a year that EVERYONE released great (to say the least) albums you expect mindblowing releases from your favorite bands. So here we have a very good album but few things hold it down.

My first problem is the production, which is a mystery if you consider the previous works of Neil Kernon. Some called it uneven, I will call it lame, too fuzzy guitars, no depth to the whole music. It feels like an old vinyl through a poor stereo. I agree with the comment that they should re-produce it.

And the second problem is Alder's sound. In some songs (especially the heavy ones) it doesn't fit. It is too low for this kind of song and the production drowns it. Is like a noose around his throat, it sounds single-dimensional. I don't believe that he lost it, something went wrong I think.

Third problem, there are great compositions that could gone better, I mean 3-4 songs here are at the level of Sapphire but the band choose to be more power than prog, more heavy. Nevertheless in the second part of the album things went better, since it is more emotional.

If you put these aside, what you get? Strong compositions, great melodies, incredible and technical instrumental parts. It is all heavier and dark, I think due to Nick's health issues. This is working well, Redemption were always heavy, early thrash infuences were always around, check No Tickets To The Funeral. Sometimes you wonder if these guys can play slow riffing. Noonday Devil is the heavier moment of this, just like Leviathan Rising was for the previous album. And then you get Let It Rain, one of this year's best songs and a couple more that are emotional like this, f.i. Perfect.

So after 3-4 spins I started really liking it. It is a grower, it is so strong that you forget about the problems. You just hold on to what you love about this band, powerfull riffing with emotional voice. This is no Snowfall and I don't ever consider comparing it with Fullness of Time, but it is a very good album. At the end of the day, I still consider myself a die hard fan of them.

Report this review (#556001)
Posted Monday, October 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I often say to myself: "Self, a song without a guitar solo isn't worth listening to". Now, that just may be my reaction to people that don't appreciate solos, but what is abundantly clear in all of Redemption's work, and in particular this one, is that they feel the same.

The guitar solos on this release are superb and BV deserves special credit. Redemption put all the things that make metal good into their sound. Progressive? Well if musicianship, skill, dexterity, melody and songwriting are hallmarks, then yes. But they do fit better into the straight ahead metal with a bit of thrash category, where this album should receive 4 stars.

Again, the lyrics are very personal and mature, a hallmark of their sound and particularly poignant considering NVD's recent battle with cancer, but ultimately this record falls a bit short of their last 2-3 releases. It just sounds a little 'tired' for want of a better word and like other reviewers here, I too question the production, it's a bit too raw for my liking, but I find the mix fine (especially the solos!).

Report this review (#565962)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars fall from grace!

i'm sorry, i tried...i really did but couldn't get around to appreciating this effort from Nick and the boys from Redemption. i only got into Redemption with the beautiful Snowfall on Judgement Day and then went into their back catalogue as far back as the debut (which was the only other albumthat i didn't really like).

given that the calibre of the band - Nick's and Bernie's prowess with guitar, Ray's illustrious "past life", the tight rhythm section of Chris and Sean and the layers of wonderful bars from Greg's keyboards remains unchanged from the previous album, its hard to understand where they went wrong. and they did go wrong somewhere...

the chugging guitars that start in Path of the Whirlwind just seem to go on (and playing the same chords) through the first 4 songs including the lacklustre Dreams from the Pit.

Noonday Devil manages to get away from this mechanised flow but isn't really a great song. The highlight of the album is most likely Let It Rain which is catchy, melodious and in a similar vein to Redemption's "ballads" from their past.

then, its back to the sludge factory and, after listening to the album now some 15 times (like i said, i really tried!) i still cant tell the next 4 songs apart...but hang on, its not over yet!

we still have the closer, the "epic" Departure of the Pale Horse. now, this is a masterpiece in all the wrong ways. yes, its 10-min long but there is probably not a minute-long piece of good prog-metal. somewhere along the way, they try to work in phrases and sections from the first 10 songs and its totally confusing. end-result: 10 minutes of torture...

sorry again, folks! this is almost totally a wasted effort. i was very tempted to go with just the 1 star but hey, these guys were one of my favourite bands after the last album, so give them a break, ok? just hold on for the next one and hope they get it right

Report this review (#568088)
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars AN ALBUM THAT IS SURE TO GROW ON YOU---

This is the 5th release from the progressive metal elites, REDEMPTION and it's an album that is most likely a need for most to listen a few times to fully appreciate the dark, emotional content of this album, THIS MORTAL COIL. 

What should be known clearly is that in 2008 lead Guitarist, NICK VAN DYKE was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called, Multiple Myeloma. This album is a very dark, emotional piece  that is about the feeling of mortality, coming to the understanding that death looms over us all and that we have to accept the best things in life even though we as human beings we have to battle the frailty of our own human condition. Ergo, THIS MORTAL COIL is sure to Rick your psyche and make you think about how precious life is and the best way to do that is through fast and Furious prog Metal at a very elite level of musicianship. 

THIS MORTAL COIL starts off with a huge bang with the track, PATH OF THE WHIRLWIND which is a very energetic song that is full of life with blistering drums and a strong chorus to boot. Excellent opener. The next track, BLINK OF AN EYE is absolutely sublime and is my personal favourite song on the album. The sound arrangements are incredibly well thought out and Ray Alder's voice is perfectly on key to complement this speed demon of a song.  Another notable track on the album is the emotionally laden, NO TICKETS TO THIS FUNERAL. This obviously has some deep rooted connection with VAN DYKE beating his cancer and saying to the NOONDAY DEVIL, that I'm here to stay and you can't take my life just yet, so tickets for my funeral to you! It's quite a theme with this track, but it really works and sparks some incredible guitar from Van Dyke and well as a few nice keyboard solos to slow things down a bit. Also, the chorus for NO TICKETS is very catchy and will surely get stuck in your head. It's like I said, this album will grow on you. Lastly, the power ballad LET IT RAIN is a wonderful track and really helps round out the album by slowing things down a bit so the listener can catch his/her breath because REDEMPTION don't take their foot off the gas for very long on this release. It is a serious prog metal ambush that attacks the senses boldly. 

All in all, I have to say that this album is not as bad as others have lead on for it to be. Personally, I feel that it would make a nice edition to any prog metal collection, especially if you were to obtain the 2 disc special edition of the album where by the 2nd disc contains a 6 track cover set done by the band. Cover tracks include, FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND/LOVE LIES BLEEDING which is fairly well done 2) JANE 3) HOLD THE LINE 4) EDGE OF THE BLADE 5) LOVE TO LOVE and 6) PRECIOUS LITTLE THINGS. A very enjoyable set list and fans of UFO will be in for a treat because REDEMPTION nail LOVE TO LOVE. The opening keyboard solo by VAN DYKE is melodic bliss. 

I'm giving THIS MORTAL COIL a 4/5. It was a fairly enjoyable experience, although it does contain some recycled material from their previous works, but i say 'who cares! It sounds good.' Enjoy prog heads. 

Report this review (#871434)
Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Redemption play a deeply personal (no political rants here, just man and his problems), pounding yet melodic type of sophisticated metal, with great guitar-synth interplay, usually fast, but sometimes they slow down for a kind of a cathartic slow burner. This type of music is suitably complemented by the strong and emotional voice of Fates Warning vocalist, Ray Alder (who is a rare type of a Hispanic front man in prog metal).

Redemption's latest album, This mortal coil, does not offer much new to their catalogue, maybe little bit heavier and more aggressive than usual. There are good tunes here - fluid and fast Blink of an eye, for example, the slow burner Let it rain, etc. But this album is marred by poor, muddy production, and out of shape condition of Alder's vocals, who has a slight natural hoarseness in his voice, but sounds more hoarse and tired than usual. This is by itself not a crime, but it stands in strangely glaring contrast with the previous album, Snowfall on judgement day, which was maybe over-polished, but very dynamic in sound. You could always pare down over-production excesses, but not so radically and in a downfall manner.

Now, you could make an argument that such bleakness is appropriate to the subject matter, the struggle with a death-threatening condition of the band leader, Nick van Dyk. But it's no excuse for a rushed production work, which makes this album kinda hard to listen to, if played together with Redemption's earlier work.

Report this review (#1000443)
Posted Wednesday, July 17, 2013 | Review Permalink

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