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COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Germany


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Counter-World Experience biography
The fusion of jazz-rock with heavy metal is not an easy nor readily accepted form of music, and requires players of unusual vision and abilities. Berlin trio COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE have been creating such a music since their inception in Hannover, 2002. The group is comprised of three of Germany's most accomplished young musicians, guitarist/synthist Benjamin Schwenen, Thorsten Harnitz on drums, and world-class bassist H.D. Lorenz. The sound is quite unique though they occasionally remind of a less grandiose PLANET X, with hints of KING CRIMSON, JOE SATRIANI and even NEBELNEST.

2002 saw their debut "Always Home", primarily a modern fusion outing. 'Fraktal', their second release in the summer of 2004, introduced electronic sounds and heavier guitar layers, bringing in strong elements of metal and high-tech synthesis. In 2006 they recorded their third, 'Leaving Lotus', described by Schwenen as "Cybernetic metal combining with smooth, Pat Metheny-like texturing."

Full of complexity, innovation and surprises, COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE is a band that extends the power trio concept into the future and progresses the state of both metal and fusion.

- Atavachron (David)


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
This is an important group in contemporary progressive jazz-metal and offers heavy, tasteful and intelligent music.


Discography:
Always Home, studio album (2002)
Fraktal, studio album (2004)
Leaving Lotus, studio album, (2006)

Counter-World Experience official website

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COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE discography


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COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 7 ratings
Always Home
2002
4.00 | 9 ratings
Fraktal
2004
4.00 | 12 ratings
Leaving Lotus
2007
4.08 | 14 ratings
Metronomicon
2009
4.07 | 10 ratings
Music For Kings
2012

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COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Music For Kings by COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.07 | 10 ratings

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Music For Kings
Counter-World Experience Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Music for Kings' - Counter-World Experience (8/10)

Although 'concept' albums are ridiculously abundant in the progressive metal genre, it takes a lot of skill and determination to make it work. Harder still is to pass a concept entirely instrumentally, without a set of lyrics to guide the listener along. Sure, it may be argued whether or not Counter-World Experience's "Music for Kings" is a concept album, but if song titles are worth anything, this is a showcase of some of history's most famous (and infamous) monarchs. Like a tender steak, many of these lords' stories are rich and bloody. Though this may be an ample breeding ground for death metal, Counter-World Experience play a highly jazz-infused form of metal. Most importantly, they do it really, really well. Bloodlines aside, there's a great deal to appreciate here.

The concept of jazz metal generally has me thinking of Cynic or Exivious. Counter-World Experience reminds me most of the latter, although these guys take their explorations down a more diverse set of avenues. Jazz and progressive metal are the two central ingredients in this mixing pot, but listeners should not be surprised to hear elements of world music and Medieval folk involved in the sound of "Music for Kings". On paper, this sounds like a lot to take in within the course of an album- and it is, but Counter-World Experience organize it in such a way so that it fits. The music is built around Benjamin Schwenen's guitarwork, particularly around his lead playing. His 'soloing' style finds itself at a tasteful crossroads between rapid fusion observations in the image of Pat Metheny, virtuosic rock leads, and neoclassical shredding. Although it would have been nice to hear the other two members of the band get more room to strut their skills, there can be no complaint concerning the tightness of this band.

Counter-World Experience seem to take a more classical approach on "Music for Kings" than they have on the past. The album's "Coronation" prologue introduces the concept with a choral arrangement that could have been plucked from a Medieval fantasy milieu. Although "Trois Filles du Roi", "Beowulf" and "Karl the Great" all obviously draw upon European figures, Counter-World Experience tip the hat to monarchs as far from home as East Asia, with the dark, King Crimsony "Tiger of Qin". With each culture and monarch CWE jump into, the music reflects it accordingly. "Gilgamesh" is backed up with a nearly tribal rhythm, coming off as much more aggressive and looming than its more reserved European counterparts. The highlight "Beowulf" ends the album on a wonderful note, with some beautifully epic guitar melodies to bid listeners farewell.

Although it may be the way the album ends that tempers my view, "Music for Kings" could have used a little more melody. Although there is a great deal of variety on the album, the largest part goes to Schwenen's fusion solos. While incredibly impressive, some listeners may be put off by how frequently the solos come in. Of course, what jazz metal album would be complete without a good bit of guitar exploration? Counter-World Experience have a consistent reputation for solid progressive metal, and "Music for Kings" does not disappoint. This latest record is easily deserving of a listen.

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 Metronomicon by COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.08 | 14 ratings

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Metronomicon
Counter-World Experience Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by justaguy

3 stars This is a very powerful metal fusion group from Germany. That style you don't come across too often, I think. It can be described as: Tool meets Allan Holdsworth. The musicians themselves call it "progressive jazz metal". Very metallic sounding guitar, heavy, saturated bass and very quick drum work, and at the same time - jazzy, quite intellectual and sometimes a little abstract improvisations, all that is smoothen up with some acoustic guitar, piano, vocal or strings addings. It comes very closely to the music of Clad in Darkness or Gordian Knot, the perfect bassist Sean Malone's project, where Steve Hackett collaborated once.

The trio Counter-World Experience was founded in 2001 and has issued three albums before the "Metronomicon". I listened to a few songs from the previous albums and it seems that they are quite persistent in their style. Which maybe some demanding listeners could find a little too constant. You can't really distinguish one album from another. Saying that, it means also, that the level of music quality is constantly high. Their composing and technical skills will become a benchmark for many musicians one day.

The album begins with "Deus ex Machina", where a fragile wordless female vocal, like a beam of sunlight, counterpoints the dark heaviness of the metal guitars.

In the title song "Metronomicon", another quite heavy arrangement is interrupted firstly with Benjamin Schwenen's guitar-synth solo, which comes very closely to what Allan Holdsworth does with his SynthAxe. The sound of guitar-synth is not that rich, comparing to the SynthAxe, but well, how many SynthAxe players are there anyway?

The third number, Fuego Barbarico, is a heavy metal flamenco, something what Al Di Meola could produce, if he was a member of, let's say, Static X.

Then comes "Metis", with a quiet and beautiful acoustic guitar introduction, ruptured to pieces by heavy guitar riffs. This number has everything a good progressive song should have: different rhythms, changing melodies, spacious solo's, very complicated bass loops and a little less aggressive drum rhythms.

"Quintus" has an interesting, slow, little abstract, almost Bach-like intermezzo, again broken up by the heavy metal riffs. Beautiful.

"Deep Waters" is beautiful in it's slowness, with guitar, guitar-synth and bass trading solo's. The bass solo in the middle of the song is really something special, very technical but in the same time melodic.

Actually, every song in the album has it's own treat, something special, which makes it different from the rest. "Digital Dust" has that fantastic piano intro and a heavy keyboard solo by the guest musician Jörg Sandner. "Youth" has a typical house-like synthesizer start, overflowing into a jazzy synth-guitar solo, which turns into a heavy metal riff. "End of the Path" has fantastic jazzy bass solo's that would make Stanley Clark be proud if he produced them and a violin quartet intermezzo, a little abstract and quite interesting.

This is very strong and consistent record, technically and melodically, highly recommended to all the funs of metal fusion. If they exist. Well, of course, the metal lovers, prog-rockers and some adventurous jazz connoisseurs will dig this one too, I think. Still, a 4, and may be, only because I don't count myself as a metal fusion lover, so to me it is not really essential.

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 Leaving Lotus by COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 12 ratings

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Leaving Lotus
Counter-World Experience Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Ovidiu

4 stars This is the third try for this so talented German band and it sems that this album is the most mature to date!I don'y know their previous releases,but LEAVING LOTUS proves a solid maturity of the compositions and some very,very catchy songs!Stylistically,we can consider the COUNTER WORLD EXPERIENCE music to be a prog fusion metal,including many jazz elements with futuristic ideas and a matallic vibe everywhere !Not in the sense that we have serious and massive guitar riffs-and we have plenty of them-but the music has a cold atmosphere,something like an unbreakable war machine in action!The sound is sensational and each musician does an excellent job!The songs are direct,sometimes showing extremelly technical sparks ,never in excess,but definitelly the final product remains very technique!Keyboards and guitar syhnthsizers are present everywhere and the drum sound is astonishing,bringing a sound in the jazz metal direction!It's not so mindblowing like PLANET X or 7 for 4,but it's something very well done and the compositions are song orientated! Sometimes we feel some KING CRIMSON influences,but more modern in displaying! AMYGDALA ,the opening track is perfect for a first song and the rest of the album continues the direction and offers an excellent audition of a very well composed album especially!The playing is majestic too!Benjamin Schvenen is a very talented guitar player,in permanent search for new ways of expression and the keys are also in his attribution ,so CWE music is very metal orientated absolutelly!Catchy jazz elements are very enjoyable and the technical chops and breaks are always well done!THORSTEN HARNITZ and H.D LORENZ are performant musicians and the trio seems to be very compact,like a monolith!I feel great potential in this band and I am sure the coming albums will be more and more interesting and diverse,stylistically speaking! Definitelly 4 well deserved STARS for a very promissing and adventurous band!

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 Metronomicon by COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.08 | 14 ratings

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Metronomicon
Counter-World Experience Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Four albums into their career and German metal act Counter-World Experience are as good as ever.

9 creations filled to the brim with quirky riff patterns are served here, with short, pacy highly technical bursts as well as slow, brutal, meandering riff barrages. The bass is often given the role of providing momentum, and adds some jazz touches to the proceedings at times, and the drummer serves up some excellent rhythms as well.

It's the additional details that are most interesting here though. Atmospheric, low key opening sequences. Interludes with mellow, wandering undistorted guitars. Dreamy passages with synth textures and solo guitars. Even a violin and cello theme is inserted in the final track End of Path.

The sparsely but effective use oif synths and keyboards to add textures and enhance moods in some of the metal segements is an additional nice feature here, and even the blend of aggressive metal and trance in Youth actually works pretty well - although in that case the trance sequences comes across as far more interesting than the metal ones. Neat contrast though.

Recommended to those who like or are intrigued by instrumental, quirky and shifting progressive metal with technical and extreme embellishments.

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 Metronomicon by COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.08 | 14 ratings

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Metronomicon
Counter-World Experience Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Pieromcdo

5 stars This is Prog Fussion at is best.To the soft,smoth side of there music to the extreme wild moments all going together perfecly in harmony and complexity That is Jazz,Extreme Jazz at is best .The song Start with something you no and you wakeup always in a different world ,the world of Counter-World Experience. With this completely unique music they ride my imagination wild full of emotions it is like Uzeb mist with Blotted Science It contain lots of instruments the bass player brings the fat to the song .Outstanding musicians outstanding compositions This is a must ,you will found this at Gemm This discovery from Prog Archives Make all the times locking for the perfect prog worthit Thanks to all. Pierre

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 Leaving Lotus by COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 12 ratings

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Leaving Lotus
Counter-World Experience Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Third time is the charm they say. And although I'm not familiar with the first two releases from this German trio, I was certainly charmed by their third release.

Although not a constant feature, the heavy use of dark and grim sounding guitars is what I will remember best of this album. That particular sound is so strong and special that it has made a lasting impression. Combining that guitar sound with mellow passages, sometimes fragile and sometimes epic guitar synths added, some jazz-tinged atmospheres and excellent percussion, drums and bass work makes for an interesting and fascinating journey in a musical landscape described by the band as jazz metal.

And this CD will probably appeal to most that think instrumental jazz metal sounds like music it's worth checking out.

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 Fraktal by COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.00 | 9 ratings

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Fraktal
Counter-World Experience Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Staggeringly good power trio out of Germany doing some great things with the fusion of metal and tech-jazz, with an emphasis on the metal and a streamlined sound that still holds a lot of feeling. Like a younger and leaner Planet X, guitarist/synthist Benjamin Schwenin, drummer Thorsten Harnitz, and bass player H.D. Lorenz bring together the teeth of cleanly distorted guitar lines, laserbeam synth harmonies, and a solid rhythmic foundation. The title cut crunches with demanding, oddly-timed riffs and sweet electronics. 'Chaoslace' is a bit more straight-forward and evokes Satriani style colors and nu-metallic landscapes as does 'The Virtual Factor' which shows-off Ben Schwenin's exceptional talents on guitar, and 'Watercoloured' is softer and flowing. The trio delivers a precise and powerful tech-fusion without overwhelming the senses like some of the contemporary extremists can, and fans of Steve Morse, Satch and other high-end instrumentalists should thoroughly appreciate Counter-World Experience. A winner, and any of their three CDs will do.

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Thanks to Atavachron for the artist addition.

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