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ROSWELL SIX

Progressive Metal • United States


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Roswell Six biography
ROSWELL SIX is a US based project organized by Shawn Gordon from Progrock Records, combining the creative skills of writer Kevin J. Anderson and composer/keyboardist Erik Norlander to create a novel approach to the art of concept albums: To base a concept album on the book of an acclaimed author and to let same author actively contribute in the production of the music based on his novel. Rounding up the core members of the project is Andersons wife Rebecca Moesta, contributing her writing skills as an acclaimed author; Norlander's wife Lana Lane and bassist Kurt Barabas (Amaran's Plight).

The end result is a lavish production with a number of well known guest stars; with a book tie-in that one might assume author and musicians alike hope will lead to synergetic effects in terms of sales for both. As the book in question is the first in a planned trilogy; expect additional releases from this project if the first one proves to be a success.

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Terra Incognita: Beyond The HorizonTerra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon
ProgRock Records 2009
Audio CD$9.21
$9.20 (used)
Terra Incognita: A Line In The SandTerra Incognita: A Line In The Sand
ProgRock Records 2010
Audio CD$6.99
$4.25 (used)
Terra IncognitaTerra Incognita
Extra tracks · Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$34.73
$18.11 (used)
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ROSWELL SIX discography


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

3.32 | 26 ratings
Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon
2009
2.85 | 23 ratings
Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand
2010

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ROSWELL SIX Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand by ROSWELL SIX album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.85 | 23 ratings

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Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand
Roswell Six Progressive Metal

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Same project, different band

A Line In The Sand was the second album released under the name of Roswell Six. Somewhat strangely, however, almost none of the people involved in the production of the first album returned for the recording of this one. The creative leader of the debut, Erik Norlander, is not present here at all. He has been replaced by Henning Pauly who performs all the instruments on this album! As on the previous album, the vocals are handled by a cast of guest performers including Steve Walsh (of Kansas fame) and Charlie Dominici (the original singer of Dream Theater). Michael Sadler of Saga is the only lead vocalist that appears on both of the Roswell Six albums. The strongest connection between the two albums is supposedly the story upon which it is based.

Given the very different cast involved it is not surprising that this album sounds different than the first one. There is a stronger traditional Heavy Metal/Blues Rock/Hard Rock/AOR foundation this time around. It is not at all bad music as such, but the songs are somewhat weaker on this one. The opener is good track, though. The vocalist here is Steve Walsh, and the sound is not unlike what can be found on his recent solo albums.

Overall, I find this album decent but rather unremarkable. Recommended for fans and collectors of (mildly progressive) conceptual Metal.

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 Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon by ROSWELL SIX album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.32 | 26 ratings

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Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon
Roswell Six Progressive Metal

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Halfway

Roswell Six is an all-star Progressive Metal project similar in style and form to Explorers Club. The project leader here is the amazing Erik Norlander and the large cast is gathered from such admirable sources as Dream Theater, Saga, Asia, Lana Lane, Shadow Gallery, Kansas, and IQ (among others). This star-studded line-up is almost certain to attract fans of those bands, this reviewer included, but even if these big names certainly gives you more than a hint of what to expect here in terms of style, I have to point out that in terms of quality, Beyond The Horizon does not come close to any of the better efforts of these great bands. Don't get me wrong, there are certainly some very good moments and individual contributions to be found here, but overall the album is a bit of a hodgepodge of the contributors' diverse styles and sounds. It thus sounds a bit like a sampler or compilation album as the separate tracks are not always as connected to each other musically as one would have hoped. The several songs on which Lana Lane sings lead for example (Halfway to name one), sound very much as if they were taken straight off her own albums. Now, this is not surprising given Norlander's essential role in both projects. Neither is it negative as Lana Lane's music is very often brilliant and never bad. Similarly, Here Be Monsters sees John Payne deliver a song that, though on the heavy side, easily could have come off an Asia album. Again, Michael Sadler provides some fantastic ballads that would not have been out of place on a Saga album, etc. Indeed, all the vocalists are excellent and do an excellent job here. But still I must say that I prefer them in their respective home environments.

As far as the instrumental performances go, some lovely flutes by Martin Orford and violins by David Ragsdale stand out. This contributes to the occasional "oriental" feel of several songs. Overall a good album, but there are many better ones of its kind; even Norlander's own conceptual Music Machine beats this.

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 Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand by ROSWELL SIX album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.85 | 23 ratings

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Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand
Roswell Six Progressive Metal

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Second in line of three one-man project's album, based on Kevin J. Anderson novel "The Map Of All Things". First project's album was based on the novel " Edge Of The World" of the same author. Album is completed with well illustrated inlet book with all lyrics, pictures and both albums and books pictures. Good marketing.

As almost all one-man projects, music there has that specific " flat" sound. Never played live in whole, this is product of multi layered mixing/recording technologies, where recording studio is as much important instrument as any other used to play this music. Technically musicianship is competent if slightly boring, for sure you heard such music (often in better versions) hundred times, but if you're not interesting in new things too much, possibly you wouldn't be very disappointed.

Main trick to add some spices in that release and at the same time attract more listeners is guest vocalists. Steve Walsh is possibly best known name between other 9 (!) guest vocalists (Arjen Lucassen add some backing vocals as well).

Album is conceptual and in fact sounds as audio-musical illustration to novel. Possibly the idea was each book and album will help to sell each other. As a person obviously for a some decades too old to be attracted by such kind of books ("... Brick To Brick, Stone By Stone We Build The Wall To Protect Us All..." ), I can't speak about lyrics there.

Speaking about music, it's kind of below average for real progressive metal standard but possibly not so bad for one-man project. Hardly innovative or even interesting, I believe it could find it's listener. Just I don't know any person I could recommend this album for listening.

My rating is 2+, can't round it to 3 ( or to name it " good album but non-essential"). More release for fans only.

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 Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand by ROSWELL SIX album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.85 | 23 ratings

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Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand
Roswell Six Progressive Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A Line in the Sand is the second chapter in what may become an ongoing series of concept albums from Progrock Records, issued under the project name Roswell Six. And for this sophomore effort, label stalwart Henning Pauly supplies all the songs and instrumentation, while the guest stars covers the vocal parts.

Progressive metal bordering on heavy metal is the foundation this time around, where heavy riffs and rich symphonic backdrops are key features alongside the plethora of vocal talent. Eastern and Arabian tinged textures is used effectively throughout to add an exotic tinge to the proceedings, and a couple of nice ballads are inserted to add variety.

Personally I found this album much more interesting than the first one. Opening track Barricade is a monster, a brilliant and engaging effort all the way. And while none of the songs that follow manage to compete with the opening number in quality, quite a few of them are highly interesting efforts nontheless. And the jubilant chorus of final piece Victory, with a few nods in the direction of gospel in the way it has been crafted, will stick to your brain for quite some time after encountering it.

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 Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon by ROSWELL SIX album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.32 | 26 ratings

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Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon
Roswell Six Progressive Metal

Review by The T
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This is a by-the-numbers progressive-metal album in the tradition of AYREON with strong elements of more traditional symphonic power metal a la RHAPSODY OF FIRE. This band's mastermind, Erik Norlander, clearly leaves his imprint on the music with his majestic, symphonic-and-spacey keyboards that remind us both of his band ROCKET SCIENTISTS and of his collaborations with Arjen Lucassen.

There's not much new on this recording. This music has been done before and probably in more inspired ways (again, AYREON). While there are some good riffs and ideas here and there, there's nothing that will make this album stand out from several other oriental-melody- ridden, epic metal records. The performances by the singers are correct, yet not extraordinaire either. Even James LaBrie gives a lackluster performance, reminding us of his worst days when his throat was suffering (especially when he tries to reach for the highest notes). Lana Lane does her usual stuff, balanced and melodic, yet a little generic.

With plenty of albums with lyrics based on epic tales, not even the story is enough to lift ROSWELL SIX's debut from mediocrity (another cliché-fest of swords and warriors). The album gets 2.5 stars, and for the overall quality of the performances and the good moments I'll round it up this time, because its lack of originality can't negate the fact that at least this is very enjoyable well-crafted music.

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 Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon by ROSWELL SIX album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.32 | 26 ratings

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Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon
Roswell Six Progressive Metal

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars My goodness, the supreme PA prog "softie" is doing a heavy symphonic review! OMG! What has the world come to? Topsy-turvy, I guess! So I need a little raunch occasionally, does not make me a metal head! To quote the PA bio "ROSWELL SIX is a US based project organized by Shawn Gordon from Progrock Records, combining the creative skills of writer Kevin J. Anderson and composer/keyboardist Erik Norlander to create a novel approach to the art of concept albums: To base a concept album on the book of an acclaimed author and to let same author actively contribute in the production of the music based on his novel. Rounding up the core members of the project is Anderson's wife Rebecca Moesta, contributing her writing skills as an acclaimed author; Norlander's wife Lana Lane and excellent bassist Kurt Barabas (Amaran's Plight)", yet most impressive was the barrage of fantastic vocalists chosen here to show their wares: DT's Labrie (ok, so I am not a fan but...), the intense Michael Sadler of Saga fame, Asia's John Payne and the lovely Lana Lane. Ravaging guitars are expressed by Chris Brown of Ghost Circus and Shadow Gallery's Gary Wehrkamp. Drummer Chris Quirarte of Prymary, violinist David Ragsdale (ex-Kansas) and Martin Orford (ex-IQ, Jadis) who adds some flute, round out the elite crew. Erik Norlander's whooping keyboards and symphonic synths infuse considerable fanfare and pomp to the sci-fi proceedings and the whole opus just rocks! Yes, its epic, bombastic, even heavily Wagnerian at times, interspersed with chunky ballads, the tender Ragsdale violin seducing on "Letters in a Bottle" while Sadler evokes an awesome, a powerful yet emotion-drenched vocal that will leave you stunned. Beautiful music with meaningful vocals gets even better on "Halfway" with the sultry Lana Lane on the mike, wallowing in sympathy "to the family members of military personnel serving overseas". When the going gets tough (mostly with Labrie's vocals) on tracks such as "I am the Point" or "Anchored", the guitars bite with venomous disregard. The highlight tracks here are without a doubt "Here Be Monsters", a colossal metallic slab a la Ayreon, full of lush symphonic bliss that has a little "Kashmir" feel (Erik , you little thief!) , harsh guitar crunching obliviously and impassioned vocals from Payne, Lane and Sadler triumvirate. (No wonder that I got hooked by this PA stream. Marketing slut, go figure!). Right behind this jewel is "The Sinking of the Luminara", a positively devastating instrumental adventure that showcases some elegant piano, twirling violin and the emergence of a rumbling Barabas bass solo that will shake your booties! Who is this guy? WOW! I mean nothing gets me more delirious than a subtly pounding bass frolicking within a mellotron vortex, my goodness! A sibilant synth solo only compounds my sonic orgasm. This is a thoroughly enjoyable masterpiece that I intend to indulge in, again and again. The highly cinematographic "The Winds of War" has Lana bellowing forcefully, a powerfully fluid voice that expresses convincingly (I find many male heavy metal singers insanely hilarious, a parody of sorts...Long story...). The contrast- laden "Swept Away" has fittingly raging rhythmic barrages, chopping away at the Lane melody with liquid guitar flurries, Sadler keeping his own with a melodic control that is truly inspiring. Their vocal duet is simply enticing and highly applause worthy, while Norlander tosses in some sweeping synthesized gale winds. "Beyond the Horizon" , the title track completes the revelation as Sadler once again grabs the microphone stand and delivers a performance that easily rivals his acclaimed Saga work. Every word is clearly understood and deeply felt (ain't that what a lead singer is supposed to provide the audience?), a well- placed acoustic guitar intervention infuses even more bravado to the simple "quenching the sorrow" emotions. "Merciful Tides" reprises the magnificent "Letters in a Bottle", giving Lana the final merciful word, replaying the enchantment and the utter pleasure derived in listening to this song and by extension this delightful album. Wehrkamp pulls off a mystically enticing solo to augment the passion. Norlander pulls on the instrumental velvet curtain with the über-symphonic "The Edge of The World", a fitting and polished farewell to an exciting musical journey, great story, amazing music, fabulous performances and gorgeous artwork. Nice indeed! An inch away from masterpiece anointment. I am very surpised by Sadler, wow! 4.5 uncharted lands

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 Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon by ROSWELL SIX album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.32 | 26 ratings

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Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon
Roswell Six Progressive Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A somewhat underwhelming debut by this US project; serving up a long concept album somewhere in between symphonic prog and progressive metal in style.

It's not an album without appeal though, despite of or because of not hitting off straight away with a jaded reviewer. There's some obvious similarities to Ayreon here - albeit more of an Ayreon light in terms of musical and compositional complexities - but the story told is much more fathomable than Lucassen's excursions into the literally field.

Indeed, fathomable and likable are words one can describe much of the material on this album as. Not that interesting to most proggers I'd think, but rather music that should appeal to those mostly listening to and interested in the less complex aspects of music in general and rock in particular.

A concept story, some melodramatic twists to music and story and a sad love story thrown in for good measure makes me conclude that this is a production aimed at a crossover market first and foremost. An album for the girlfriends of male proggers as well as a general mainstream-oriented audience. And I think chances are good that it'll be a hit in those market segments. Hardcore proggers should approach with a bit of caution though.

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Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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