Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

ARTENSION

Progressive Metal • Multi-National


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Artension picture
Artension biography
It was sometime in '92/'93, when Vitalij Kuprij, who was studying classical music in Switzerland at that time, met Roger Staffelbach, a Swiss guitarist who was also studying at the Jazz School in Lucerne. They soon founded their band ATLANTIS RISING, which played several instrumental gigs in Switzerland. After having recorded some demos, they got in touch with Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, who showed great interest in the band but suggested to add some vocal lines to their songs.

Vitalij had already known stunning drummer Mike Terrana from one of Yngwie Malmsteen's tours. His friend, bassist Kevin Chown, also joined the band and enriched their sound with solid experience and great musicianship, and ARTENSION was born.

Mike Varney introduced Vitalij and Roger to several musicians, one of them being John West, whose soaring vocals, along with Vitalij's and Roger's lightning-fast solos, became the trademark for ARTENSION's neo-classical and agressive music.

ARTENSION forum topics / tours, shows & news


ARTENSION forum topics
No topics found for : "artension"
Create a topic now
ARTENSION tours, shows & news
No topics found for : "artension"
Post an entries now

ARTENSION Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to ARTENSION

Buy ARTENSION Music



More places to buy ARTENSION music online

ARTENSION discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ARTENSION top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.34 | 17 ratings
Into the Eye of the Storm
1996
4.04 | 19 ratings
Phoenix Rising
1997
3.61 | 19 ratings
Forces of Nature
1999
3.25 | 12 ratings
Machine
2000
3.56 | 25 ratings
Sacred Pathways
2002
2.88 | 15 ratings
New Discovery
2003
2.86 | 16 ratings
Future World
2004

ARTENSION Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ARTENSION Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ARTENSION Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ARTENSION Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ARTENSION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sacred Pathways by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.56 | 25 ratings

BUY
Sacred Pathways
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

3 stars Led by keyboard maestro Vitalij Kuprij (Ring of Fire, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), singer extraordinaire John West (Royal Hunt) and guitar wizard Roger Staffelbach, prog/neoclassical metal band Artension have been churning out album after album since their inception, Sacred Pathways being their 5th in only 7 years since their 1996 debut. For the occasion, the band is completed by the same formidable rhythmic section (Mike Terrana / drums; Kevin Chown / bass) that had played on Artension's first two records and had then left after that. With such a technically proficient line-up, the quality of the playing is not under discussion ? but the real question is whether the songwriting is up to par, after Artension's previous record Machine had disappointed more than a few fans.

Fortunately, the US-based combo seem to have found their mojo again. Sacred Pathways features an impressive array of textbook neoclassical metal tunes, rhythmically tight, sublimely melodic and running at speed-of-light tempos. The inspiration of Baroque and classical music is evident throughout the record, in the construction of the vocal melodies, in Kuprij's and Staffelbach's ornamented solos, as well as in the use of contrapuntal harmonies. Personally, I prefer the more original mixture of hard rock, prog and neoclassical metal that Artension pursued at the beginning of their career. But I have to admit that the band's take on the neoclassical metal style is very well-done and convincing here.

Songs like "Your Victory" and "The Emperor" rip and shred like anything ever composed by His Neoclassical Majesty Yngwie Malmsteen, and then some more (listen to the slapped bass groove on "Your Victory"). Meanwhile, "Running out of Time", "Sacred Pathways" and "Nightmare" are more melodic affairs that remind me of bands like Royal Hunt and allow John West to showcase all his talent, illustrating why he was such a sought-after vocalist at the time. His voice is clean and trained, and yet rich in resonance thanks to his powerful vibrato and soulful, husky tone. Also enjoyable are the obligatory ballad "The Calm before the Storm" and the brisk instrumental "March to Ruin" where Kuprij fully unleashes his compositional and playing skills.

The album contains a handful of duller moments, from the anonymous hard rock filler "The Killing" to the odd, Queenesque piano ballad "Flower of the Orient" that closes the record awkwardly. The album's main drawback, however, is its production. This is a problem that has afflicted several Artension's releases. There are several issues. The drum sound is pretty terrible, too dry and compressed. It constantly drowns out the guitar, whose sound is also poor and thin. Even the keyboards do not sound great, which is surprising considering the prominent role they play for Artension. The mix is also poor and at times it is really hard to follow the harmonic structure of the songs, because all one can hear are Terrana's busy drumwork and John West's vocals ("The Emperor").

Despite these shortcomings that in part do ruin the listening experience, Sacred Pathways is a solid album, thanks to its inspired songwriting and the excellent playing of all musicians involved. It is a considerable step up relative to Artension's previous record, Machine, and although it is not at the levels of the band's first two albums, it is up there with the best work by neoclassical metal artists.

 New Discovery by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.88 | 15 ratings

BUY
New Discovery
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

2 stars Just one year after releasing a strong comeback record such as Sacred Pathways, prog/neoclassical metallers Artension returned with their sixth full-length album New Discovery. The album was recorded by the same line-up who had played on the previous record, comprised of the three permanent band members, keyboard wizard Vitalij Kuprij, vocalist John West and guitar player Roger Staffelbach, plus Mike Terrana on drums and Kevin Chown on bass. Stylistically, the new album follows in the footsteps of the band's most recent records, embracing the neoclassical metal sound and leaving behind the prog metal ambitions that had characterized their earlier albums. In addition, New Discovery brings back traces of hard rock that was present at the beginning of Artension's career but had been somewhat left behind in recent years.

Throughout their career Artension had the unfortunate tendency to alternate strong and weak releases. Although not a complete disaster, New Discovery sadly belongs to the latter category. The main culprit is the uninspired songwriting that mars many of the songs on this album. There is a sense of rigidity and formulaic repetitiveness running through the 9 tracks of this LP. Most songs follow the same structure of verse/prechorus/chorus/instrumental break without any variation or innovation. The arrangements are also quite monotonous. Terrana's busy double-bass drumwork is pushed to the front of the mix, with bass and guitar chugging away underneath it, to the point that the songs can often come across as rhythmically dull ("Remember My Name"; "The Last Survivor"). The song melodies, carried by West's vocals and occasionally Kuprij's keyboards, are frequently cut from the same cloth of Baroque-inspired music that inspired Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen, which can be fun to listen to for one or two songs, but rapidly grows tiresome across 50 minutes of material.

To be fair, Kuprij does try to inject some variety into his songwriting, by seeking inspiration in classic hard rock, most evidently on "Hearts Are Broken" and "Call of the Wild" where John West channels his inner Joe Lynn Turner in the most convincing way possible. These songs, however, are quite dull and would probably be classified as fillers on any good Deep Purple or Rainbow album. The album's best songs are thus those where Artension manage to combine neoclassical metal and melodic hard rock in a less unyielding manner, such as on the title-track, "Innocent Soul" and "Story Teller". The obligatory power ballad "Endless Days" is also remarkable, thanks to its memorable melody and John West's soulful performance. Also on the plus side, the album's sound production is significantly improved compared to some of the previous Artension's albums, like Sacred Pathways. Drum, guitars and keyboards sound much better than on that album, probably due to the fact that they were recorded in different studios. The mix is still fairly muddy and compressed, though, and this penalizes particularly the guitars and the bass, which are sometimes difficult to hear clearly.

Ultimately, New Discovery gets appreciated mostly for the quality of the playing of the five musicians involved, than for the ideas that form the music. The solos and instrumental jams that inevitably appear in all songs are all excellent and really fun to listen to. If only Artension had managed to write consistently good songs around them, New Discovery could have been a strong album, while instead it only occupies a decent, but lesser place in Artension's discography.

 Sacred Pathways by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.56 | 25 ratings

BUY
Sacred Pathways
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars They released their first album in 1996 but Artension have only recently started working with each other again. The press release describes this as 'Neoclassical Progressive Metal', and that is probably quite a fair description. The music is based very much around the keyboards of Vitalij Kuprij who in fact met guitarist Roger Steffalbach when he travelled to Switzerland to further his studies on piano (as well as playing in other rock bands such as Ring Of Fire he has also recorded a solo classical CD).

Vitalij writes all of the music and loves nothing better than to show off his speed and dexterity, sometimes to the detriment to the music as a whole. But when it works, such as on "The Emperor", it can be awesome (possibly as this is one of the tracks where Roger also lets rip). John West (Royal Hunt) provides all of the vocals but the feeling for much of the album is that although it has many good points, and some quite brilliant, overall the band could do with a few more tunes and less of the posturing. Not an album to totally dismiss, and one that I will play again, but bands like Stratovarius are more consistent to my ears.

Originally appeared in Feedback #66, Feb 03

 Phoenix Rising  by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.04 | 19 ratings

BUY
Phoenix Rising
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars Is this only the second review of this album? I feel the need of advertising this band. Artension were from Switzerland but featuring the Ukrainian monster keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij, that's the reason why I went to know this band as I'm a Kuprij's fan.

Kuprij is a monster keyboardist of classical extraction, or better he is a classical pianist and orchestral director who likes composing and playing progressive metal and the remarkable thing with Artension is that I don't see a big gap between the keyboard and the other instruments. The rest of the band is composed by people so skilled that you won't see anything like i.e. Emerson Lake and Palmer. There's not a leading instrument, it's an ensemble.

The singing is almost always clean and the guitar is often launched in fast solos alternated with the keyboard's. The band appears to be influenced by the early hard-rock and metal bands, in particular Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Iron Maiden with an eye to the longhair metal bands of the 80s but also thank to their skills they have developed a very personal style since from the debut.

This Phoenix Rising is not properly a concept album but requires a mention about the lyrics, too. Of course I will only reproduce parts of the lyrics in order to avoid copyright issues.

"Area 51" is a complex song with many variations in the theme and very powerful, don't listen while driving.... some of the lyrics say: "My powerful doubt burns a hole in my mind Is it confusion, predictions of thoughts concealed Come with me, take my hand, see what I've seen". You can find the first good and very fast keyboard's riff just in the middle of this song, and when it ends Staffelbach is able to continue with the same speed on the guitar. After the solos there's a 30 seconds passage very classically influenced before the song comes back to the original theme.

The song starts with "Packed their bags and left that day one way ticket to outer space Mohtership has sailed away blinded by the comets fall Faithfully they follow, into the fire they ride Fearless hope by their side if only they knew the stories he told were untrue" Still clean vocals and a song format for this track. It's probably because of Kevin Chown's vocals, but this song reminds me to Iron Maiden. There's also an excellent "duel" between keyboards and guitar. The Area51 guy has convinced somebody to leave "through the gate" then "No one told them it all was a lie (he said) take my hand and together we'll fly".

"Valley Of The Kings" begins slow with a piano base, the metal arrives after 1:30 minutes. It's quite a standard for the genre: a slow melodic song with dark elements like, just to mention one, the Metallica's "Nothing Else Matter", but I like in particular the vintage sounds used by VK. The lyrics say: "Cross the sea to the Valley Of The Kings men are fools never know what the future brings gold and thieves in the Valley Of The Kings look what you've done, oh the damage is done ". It's a long track, so the slow part is later replaced by a central true metal section made of fast drumming even though it's still melodic. I have in mind Bruce Dickinson's "Tears Of The Dragon".

The following song is about a sort of schizofreny: "Came across a memory of me as someone else", then "Didn't recognize me, Didn't know what to do In another lifetime I could have been you" This is the Blood Brother. This song has an Uriah Heep flavor specially in the descending scales and the excellent organ solo. An old fashioned song on which Chown sounds between Dickinson and David Byron. One of the album's best.

The story is now a little clearer. We are on a starship going somewhere in the deep space following a lie: "Light years are days the bravest of hearts lead the way While loved ones on earth are praying"Come back to me"". Another good metal song with fast drums and a lot of notes played by bass, guitar and keyboards in the instrumental parts. Excellent performances of guitar and voice in particular.

The title track has a very dramatic start: "Awake but you're asleep you're drawn into the light", then "And all your fantasies are real, and now you can see I see a phoenix rising". It's a bluesy dark song which makes me think to Lucassen's "Star One" as reference.

An intrusion of classical elements starts "Forbidden Love". It's a sort of love song. It says: "in my arms once again knowing that you can never be mine divided by mountains of circumstance". Not very original but very well arranged and played as the whole album is. The instrumental part and its guitar solo raise its level.

Now we know what the starship is seeking for: "The City is lost we search for Atlantis whatever the cost The City is lost child of the sea for eternity tossed The City is lost". Also this song can remind to Maidens but just as reference. The sentence below clarifies everything:" Survivors escaping disaster sailing to far away lands brought knowledge of pyramids, physics and flight the proof is beneath ancient sand". So the phoenix seems to be the mankind and the knowledge survived to Atlantis.

"Goin' Home" starts as a slow love song with piano and vocals. "Take me far away, across the Seven Seas We'll sail to yesterday, our burning hearts set free" then a sort of goodbye "Divin' through the night through the stormy weather Make it last forever and a day" It proceeds melodic but powerful: a classic metal love song.

At the end is quite unusual that the closer is an instrumental with the emblematic title "I Really Don't Care". It an extraordinary piano solo on which VK has the possibility of showing his virtuoso skill. It's just a two minutes track but I wish an entire album made of this stuff if possible.

As written at the beginning of this review I think that this band surely deserves more attention. The album is very good and with a bit of a concept that makes it more tasteful for progheads. No doubts in giving it 4 stars.

 Into the Eye of the Storm  by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.34 | 17 ratings

BUY
Into the Eye of the Storm
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars I have reviewed a boring album just after lunch...I need to wake up, so give me some metal...

I have discovered the Artension, a band based in Switzerland but lead by the Ukrainian Vitalj Kuprij after suggesting the inclusion of him (rejected) on PA. Vitalij is an orchestra director with a double discography: classical as director and metal as keyboardist. He's one of those keyboardists classically trained and very fast, and his keyboards are one of the most distinctive elements of Artension's music. Of course also the other elements must be fast enough to avoid being just the keyboardist's support band. The vocals of John West are clean and very standard for the genre and I think that this band can easily been compared to the DREAM THEATER.

In this debut album, apart of the technicalities (all the band's elements are very skilled), the first song which shows also an excellent songwriting is "Smoke And Fire". The instrumental interlude driven by a great bass on which the keyboard solo is low-volume, so not invasive, has fusion moments as it anticipates the metal-fusion genre which will appear more than ten years after this album.

Another track which deserves to be mentioned is "Lost Memory" which starts with a classical intro of classic guitar and piano. After a pause the theme is reprised by the band and the track progresses still maintaining a classical mood but with a lot of rock, too.

Out of the highlights this album contains quite standard prog-metal skillfully played, but so standard to be non-essential. It would deserve more than three stars but it's not enough for the fourth. However I strongly suggest it to who likes fast played "symphonic metal", like YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, fans of the genre in general and also people who likes classically influenced keyboards. Even fans of Emerson and Wakeman can have some fun listening to this album.

 Forces of Nature  by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.61 | 19 ratings

BUY
Forces of Nature
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars I'm a Vitalij Kuprij fan, so I went to see what he did before his solo career. This album has been my first opportunity to listen to Artension. Being Vitalij a so skilled performer, I would have expected a keyboard-driven group, but what I have found is a band of extremely skilled musicians able to demonstrate all their skill in a short 3 minutes track.

In fact, Wild Trip in less than 4 minutes contains excellent shots of drums, classical guitar and bass other than keyboards. This is the track I've remained impressed of.

The rest of the album contains melodic parts mixed with classic Metal. All the tracks are very enjoyable and easy also for ears not familiar with this genre, so I think that, unlike Vitalij's solo works, this prog-metal is more prog- than metal-oriented.

John West's voice is a typical metal voice. So typical that it looks like he came directly from the 80s. What is very nice is the contamination. The coda of Guardian of the Hunt, played by synh piano and classical guitar is classic rock and could compete with some of our beloved dynosaurs. Anoter outstanding song is "Behind Your Eyes" which features a more usual (today) version of Vitakij's keyboard.

It's 3.5, but it made me wish to try other stuff of Artension, so I round it to 4.

 New Discovery by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.88 | 15 ratings

BUY
New Discovery
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars One of the latest album of melodic classic progressive metal band, based in Switzerland. You will hardly find unusual sounds or experimental structures here. But generally music is at the standard of its genre.

The band is founded by russian keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij, and he is the main engine of the project. Sound is strongly keyboards based, very melodic, vocals is competent, but too pathetic and bombastic for my taste. Guitars and drums sound OK as well. Main accent is done on melodies, and sound is too much polished and too soft. In fact, this album remind me another similar project, established by another russian keyboardist Andre Andersen in Denmark - Royal Hunt. Similar melody vs. Metal energy scheme, similar pop-oriented sound.

In fact, you can imagine this Artension album's music as Royal Hunt with Europe vocals (a-la "Final Countdown" song). Possibly , it doesn't sound too attractive, but I believe some soft prog-metal fans will listen this album with some interest. And keyboardist work is really classy there!

 Future World by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.86 | 16 ratings

BUY
Future World
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

2 stars ARTENSION are a multi-national band that was formed in Switzerland in the nineties.This is their seventh and most recent album from 2005. John West is the vocalist here and the only name I recognize.The music has a classical flavour, and at times that Power-Metal rhythm comes to the fore. Keyboards are very upfront, much more so than the guitar. Well all these things add up to me not liking this album at all. Just my tastes in Metal that's all, because man these guys can play. I just don't appreciate it or enjoy it.

"Dark Before The Dawn" opens with keys as a galloping rhythm comes in with vocals.There's that Power-Metal style right there. Guitar before 2 minutes solos followed by bass then it kicks back in. "The Day Of Judgement" has some gymnastics early before it settles in with vocals. Guitar after 2 minutes when the vocals stop. Keys follow then the earlier melody returns. "Federation" opens with synths which are replaced quickly by a thunderous rhythm. Spoken vocals and a calm are followed by riffs.Themes are repeated and we get some crazy synths too. Not a fan. "Tree Of Knowledge" opens with piano as background synths come in. It kicks in after a minute. A calm with vocals a minute later. I like when the vocals get more powerful a minute after that. It kicks in before 5 minutes again. Lots of synths.

"Prelude" is filled with piano melodies. "Future World" has a good rhythm then it settles with vocals. I like West's passionate vocals on the chorus. A calm with piano before 4 1/2 minutes then we get some tasteful guitar before 6 minutes. "Close To The Sun" is pretty good. The focus is on the vocals, that's probably why. "Take Me Into Your Arms" is heavier but then it settles with vocals and piano. Kind of like a power ballad really. "Stand & Fight" is uptempo with lots of synths. "I Really, Really Don't Care" is how I feel at this point. "Moonlight Sonata-1st Movement" opens with quiet piano.

I don't give a lot of 2 stars because I can usually find lots to like with an album even if i'm not a big fan of it. That's not the case here. It's insulting in my opinon to throw 1 stars at albums just because you don't like them or don't "get them" when others are giving 4 and 5 stars for the same recording. My rant of the day (haha).

 Sacred Pathways by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.56 | 25 ratings

BUY
Sacred Pathways
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 realy

Fifth studio album of Artension proves that they are still in business and quite well. On this album is the same line-up like on Phonex rising, the one from previos album was a little diffrent, there was another drumer in stad of Terrana. Another well and good example of how must sound a prog metal album with a good doze of neo classical elements. Taken their influences from bands and musicians like Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow or Deep Purple in places, Artension manages to creat something not necesary over the top, but for sure pleasent and with catchy pieces. Every musician involved here has his own manner of aptoaching the instrument, so the resoult is a good album with excellent keys arrangements, great guitar solos and an outstanding voice of Mr. West as always. Every single piece frim Sacred pathway is a pleasure to listen, all have same level, so not one is more in front. The album desearves 3 stars for sure from my side , but as a whole is less intristing than Phoenix rising. If you like bands mentioned above and aswell like prog metal, give this band a try they worth it. 3 stars, good but non essential.

 Forces of Nature  by ARTENSION album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.61 | 19 ratings

BUY
Forces of Nature
Artension Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Artension third album entitled Forces of nature from 1999 is again a good album , but the shining moments from previous work are in less quantity now, leaving space to a more mainstream sound, but don't expect to something comercial, it's only less intristing than Phoenix rising and also less great than Sacred pathways from 2000. The music reaches influences from Malmsteen, Rainbow even Deep Purple with some neoclasical prog metal aproach, not bad at all but not something special either. Also Artension is toying with heavy-power elements in places not only prog metal, that gives other dimension to the album. The best of what I can extract from here are again the fantstic duels between guitar of Roger Staffelback and keys Vitalij Kuprij, and the excellent voice of West great musicians, very skilful instruental passages, and musicianship is tight , but as I said as whole the album is little less enjoyble than the prior one. Terrana is now gone to play drums with Rage, but he will come back next year to do the work with Artension since the last albu from 2005. The best pieces are Lost Horizon - simply great are the vocal arrangements here, great and very powerfull voice has this John West (remind me in places with John Lynn Turner, but more rough in places), Shape shifter and Tall ship - on both pieces is invited another legend among guitarist the famos Jamas Murphy from Obituary, Death fame and colaborations with many bands and aswell solo career. So I will give to forcess of nature 3 stars, a good one, but nothing realy special, but worth some spins from time to time. The prior one Phoenix rising was and is to me much better.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.