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Progressive Metal • Norway

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Ark biography
Hailing from Toten, Norway, ARK was founded by guitarist Tore OSTBY after his influential, early progressive metal outfit CONCEPTION had disbanded the previous year. He was initially joined by his friend, experienced drummer John MACALUSO, a former graduate of the California Percussion Institute of Technology and band member of MCM, POWERMAD, TNT & RIOT. Together, John and Tore created an amalgamation of musical styles underpinned by groove laden heavy progressive rock rhythms blended with flamenco guitars, double bass drumming and Floydian soundscapes. The arduous search for a singer with a wide and expressive range, capable of articulating the demanding material, ended with the recruitment of Jorn LANDE, former frontman for THE SNAKES (with Bernie MARSDEN & Mickey MOODY), and symphonic metal outfit MUNDANUS IMPERIUM. The trio made the conscious decision to move away from writing commercial hard rock material which had influenced their backgrounds, the consequence of which was to provide a considerably more influential legacy for the progressive metal genre than a mere two albums would suggest.

This creative outpouring resulted in their critically acclaimed, eponymous debut "Ark" (1999). With the help of Trond Nagell DAHL on keyboards, the trio created an album of great diversity, displaying a dynamic sound firmly grounded in hard rock, blended with intricate rhythmical patterns and an addictive melodic structure which appealed to a wide cross section of listeners across the rock and metal fraternity. With the bass sound oddly suppressed, the rhythm section is compensated for in MACALUSO's creative drum rhythms, while OSTBY creates some very unusual flamenco-style guitar work on "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame".

LANDE, whose versatile vocal style could alternate effortlessly between Steve PERRY, David COVERDALE, Ronnie DIO and STING, proved a popular frontman across the concert circuit, the band quickly developing a strong cult following. With appeal gathering momentum, work started on a follow up, for which bassist Randy COVEN (Steve VAI, Steve MORSE, MOUNTAIN) and keyboard player Mats OLAUSSON (Yngwie MALMSTEEN) were drafted in to enhance the overall sound. Their second album, "Burn The Sun" (2001), produced by Tommy NEWTON and considered to be an underground progressive metal landmark, took the band a noticeable step further in their development, incorporating eastern rhythms and chants, juxtaposed against Latin sections and now trademark...
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Wild Untamed ImaginingsWild Untamed Imaginings
ProgRock Records 2010
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ARK discography

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

3.93 | 119 ratings
4.02 | 237 ratings
Burn The Sun

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

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ARK Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Burn The Sun by ARK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.02 | 237 ratings

Burn The Sun
Ark Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Ark - a sadly short-lived and obscure Norwegian prog metal/hard rock band - is best perhaps introduced as one of the first projects of hard rock vocalist extraordinaire Jorn Lande (and featuring some other session musicians reappearing in countless other projects). Songs on their second album are not especially progressive, but feature relentless and technical playing. This is hard rock of the hard-hitting variety. Ark is also know to incorporate the occasional flamenco guitar. A question mark is the more accessible song Just a little, which obviously borrows from Seal's "Crazy". I don't know the band well enough, perhaps this is deliberate and royalties were payed. Ark has only one other album, which is more progressive in structure, but not as tight and with a very poor production.
 Burn The Sun by ARK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.02 | 237 ratings

Burn The Sun
Ark Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars Although signed to a mostly progressive label, this unfortunately is not the much-loved and much-missed Ark who had dreams of Mr. Jones. Instead, this is the second album of a band that started life in Norway. Drummer John Macaluso and guitarist Tore Østby eventually found the right vocalist in Jorn Lande (Company Of Snakes) and after the success of their debut album in 1999 were then joined by Randy Coven (Steve Vai, Steve Morse) and Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen).

The results of this unions can be heard on this their second album. What is apparent straight away is that they do not feel restricted to any musical style as hard rocking "Heal The Waters" is followed by "Torn" which at times sounds as if it has been influenced by Japan. There is no surprise that the music is for the most part blasted out, or that it is very fine given the musicians, but the surprise is that given that this is a relatively unknown band the song writing is so strong. All of the songs are written by the original trio and the way that none sound like each other yet manages to maintain a band identity is a credit to them. An interesting album that deserves further investigation.

Originally appeared in Feedback #62, May 01

 Burn The Sun by ARK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.02 | 237 ratings

Burn The Sun
Ark Progressive Metal

Review by BORA

2 stars A spiritual person, I had a bit of a reservation to the album title "Burn the Sun". Some may find the title clever, in my world it comes across as immature and disrespectful. Not a good start. Still, a Norwegian super group held some promise and I obtained both of ARK's albums - sight unseen - for that particular reason.

Whilst not a Metal devotee, my collection contains a handful of such albums that I'd rather not be left without. This is not going to be one of them

I have no doubt that many will find the experience here exciting and I won't belittle their preferences. From my end, the music is well performed, but of little interest to me. Powerful vocals bordering on violent, I am not at all comfortable with that.

For general talent and delivery I'd offer 3 stars without any reservation. For personal preference this is not something I would ever listen to again.

 Ark by ARK album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.93 | 119 ratings

Ark Progressive Metal

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars In terms that have to be decent and not too impressive, this album could easily be called as HYSTORICAL!Why this pretentious appreciation?Simply,because it bringed something new and fresh in music in 1999!At his time this album had the effect of a bomb!It was so unexpected to errupt such an album,in the middle of nothing special in music,where brilliant ideas were less and less present!An offensive of black metal,or power metal with the same clichees,even in the prog metal world nothig special was present to the most of the bands! Ordinary albums and nothing memorable!And...this ARK album came to prove that it is possibly to have an eternal new musical beginning!TORE OSTBY was a very spectacular guitar player with a good pedigree in the band CONCEPTION and the vocalist JORN LANDE was more known as a DAVID COVERDALE clone in diverse projects ,but with a more rough edge of the voice and JOHN MACALUSO made several albums with TNT,ALEX MASI and YNGWIE MALMETEEN, proving scarry technical skills ,definitelly a very impressive drummer! So,this was the core of a great band that came at the time in 1999 with a stunning album that took the prog metal community by storm!Unbelieveble complex and varied guitar parts,nervous drum tempos and a total unconventional manner to sing prog songs with latino influences sometimes,twisted measures and complicated songs and totally unusual and above all- 100% uncommercial attitude!The timing of the songs varies from a little more than 5 minutes to almost 10,and plenty of space to prove the fantastic technical disponibilities of some heavenly gifted musicians!What is the more difficult is to include in a category,a stylistical category this album or to say...well it could be compared to...?!??!Because ,undoubtedly ARK music cannot be compared to anything!The componistic influences for the guys in ARK came froim their experiences and a permanent wish and desire to make experiments,without any boundaries!!!Something unbelieveble fresh and original under all aspects! A second opus BURN THE SUN pushed even further the technical and compositional capacities of the ARG guys,but after that munfortunatelly the band split and let the dream to flow that one day they will come back!!!Even now,after 10 years-in 2009,we realise thet this kind of album was something of exceptional at it's time...and it's still today! 2010 will bring the 3-rd ARK album,officially the band was reunited by MACALUSO in 2009 August and this year a new album will be released!I have already te feeling that the prog world will suffer another shock!
 Ark by ARK album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.93 | 119 ratings

Ark Progressive Metal

Review by FatalV

4 stars What an amazing debut!

''Ark'' is the self-titled debut of the Norwegian band, Ark. Ark release an excellent debut and promises a lot! Anyone notices immediately, that this band has a wide sense of music in general! Its compositions is something never heard before. There are many musical genres appearing, being combined with wisdom. Genres like progressive metal, blues, jazz, flamenco and salsa rule the whole concept. Jorn's out-spaced voice is, perhaps, the driving force of this monster band. His vocal abilities, similar to Geoff's Tate (Queensryche) and Midnight's (Crimson Glory), colour the whole album's atmosphere, taking it in extremely high levels. Tore Ostby is the main band's composer and his guitar playing gives away his great musical education in various genres. An extended ability of combinig different music styles. The wonderful rhythm section, made up only by the drum set of John Macaluso, complete this amazing trio.

''Ark'' is one of the albums that changed the Progressive character of 00's. The band composes and perform extremely difficult music, boding its next masterpiece, ''Burn the Sun''. Of course, the recognition came later, but the point is that Ark consist a prog-master band only just from its debut. A highly recomended band for everyone prog lover!

The only thing that bothers a bit, is the poor and sometimes dirty production, as well as the absence of bass. But, this is only a personal opinion.

4 stars!

 Burn The Sun by ARK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.02 | 237 ratings

Burn The Sun
Ark Progressive Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Could Have Been So Beautiful

Ark was a prog metal supergroup that produced an extremely promising, though uneven, debut album. For their second album, singer extraordinaire Jorn Lande, multi-faceted prog guitarist Tore Ostby, and drummer John Macaluso added Randy Coven, who was a shred bass aficionado in the guitar mags, and keyboardist Mats Olaussen, who had played with Yngwie Malmsteen. All the pieces were set for a prog metal masterpiece. Unfortunately, Lande led the band further down the melodic power metal path, and the progressiveness is actually less here than on their debut.

That said, this is a monster of a power metal album. The guitars are heavy, the riffs driving, and the chops of the players are phenomenal and on display. The bass deserves special regard here. Randy Coven plays like a demon on this album, let loose like he'd probably never been on record before. Along with providing active, jazz-infused accompaniment, he also gets some unbelievable solo spots, including a percussive face off with Lande doing traditional Indian vocal percussion! Lande is also a force of nature. While other vocalists may have higher ranges in terms of register, there is virtually no metal singer with a broader range of timbre, with different aspects of their voice brought to the music. On this album, Jorn's own identity is consolidating from his myriad influences, and is leagues above the majority of prog metal singers. And while he pulls off the ballads and straight rockers well, they are less interesting for (at least this) prog listener's ears.

My biggest disappointment is that guitarist Ostby doesn't get the chance to truly branch out. His parts are rocking and extremely well constructed, but his flamenco flavored acoustic chops are less prominent here than on the debut. As a result some of the exotic feel of the music is lost. (The flamenco IS still on full display on the song Just a Little, which evokes the Seal song Crazy a little too closely). Tore's metal soloing is typically blistering, and admittedly his metal rhythm parts are just friggin' amazing. I suspect the shift in the balance of influence from equal parts Lande and Ostby to Lande as decided frontman was part of the breakup of the band. (This is painfully clear if you look at the promo pictures from the two albums.)

There ARE a fair number of proggy elements in this album. Intermittent thematic sci-fi references and off time rhythms punctuate the album. Heavy syncopation, jazzy bass, and exotic tonality are frequent visitors. There's just not enough. The little tastes we get are delicious, but this could have been a true feast.

For this review, I came back to listen after checking out some lesser known prog metal outfits. This album is so much better than those that my rating is going to increase as a result. Also, I have not listened to the debut album in a few weeks and I'm better able to judge this one on its own merits. It holds up remarkably well. It's hard to give this album the same rating as the debut, but within the reference point of prog metal, it is appropriate. Ark represents a fairly unique niche in an overpopulated genre, and this album is indeed excellent.

 Ark by ARK album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.93 | 119 ratings

Ark Progressive Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Power prog metal supergroup.

That label is a huge burden to shoulder but this band lives up to it beautifully. If I were to imagine what Prog Metal was without the preconception of Dream Theater or any of the other standards, this is what I would imagine. Firmly rooted in the core of heavy metal, with many allusions to the 80's classics, this band progresses into realms that their obvious influences would never have imagined.

The most obvious characteristic of this group is the powerful voice of Jorn Lande, who sounds most obviously like David Coverdale but pulls from both more powerful (the oft mentioned RJ Dio) and more gentle elements than the Whitesnake frontman ever displayed. I am a former Whitesnake fanatic, and Jorn sounds as good as Coverdale at his best when he chooses that part of his voice. But he has so much more to pull from. Amazing vocalist. Admittedly, however, my previous affection for Whitesnake certainly affected my opinion of this band.

The second leading character in this project is Tore Ostby, a prog metal guitarist with all the shred chops you could want plus his characteristic clean tone / flamenco influenced playing that can also be heard on his previous project Conception. While both offer guitarists like me all the burn that we could desire, Tore's ability to seamlessly blend clean and distorted tones, jazzy chords, and textures is what puts the prog into this band.

I am less familiar with the drummer, but the work here is very good, with dark tom parts, the now standard double bass, and syncopation all adding dark flavor to the mix. He's more than able to keep up with the all-star chops of the other members.

Composition is a final important piece here. These are multi-segment pieces that go far beyond the metal formula and are sure to please the prog heart. Dark harmonies, slow builds, climactic energy, it's all here. The songs are strong, all enjoyable. Though there are certainly chances for the artist to show their chops, this disc is about the songs. Flurries of notes are used as colors to enhance the music, rather than showing off, which certainly is a weakness of some metal bands both prog and standard. Ark's member have the savvy and taste to concentrate first on songs.

There are some significant weaknesses in this disc. First is the track order. The best tracks are in the middle of the disc and certainly the early tracks are among the weakest. I'm tempted to start at track 3. And with all power metal / 80's influenced metal, there is a cheese factor. Frankly, it's less than listening to Labrie sing, but it's almost unavoidable in this kind of metal. The melodies are good but not amazing, and the lyrics are again fine but nothing to really amaze.

In the end this is very good prog metal. Best classic metal voice I've heard in the prog arena and one of the more interesting guitarists. Definitely recommend.

 Burn The Sun by ARK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.02 | 237 ratings

Burn The Sun
Ark Progressive Metal

Review by FatalV

5 stars Perfect, Excellent, A true MASTERPIECE!!!

''Burn the Sun'' released in 2001, is considered to be one of the most wonderful Progressive albums for the 00's...Releasing a notably worthy debut album (Ark), the band now presents a true masterpiece. The production is far and far better and clearer than the last album. The band presents a fabulous progressive style full of different kinds of music just like metal, jazz, flamenco, psychedelic and blues that are wisely connected each other.

Tore Ostby releases his best prog work, accompanied by excellent musicians. Jorn Lande (vocals) is the ''monster'' of the whole project with an out-breathing voice that has so many colors. The virtuoso Randy Coven (bass) passing around slide and fretless basslines consists an excellent duo with John Macaluso (drums). The keyboards of Mats Ollauson are also highly presented and well worked.

The band manages to release some extremely beautiful and technical material that makes every prog (or not) listener admiring. Recommended to EVERY prog listener and fan..A masterpiece for every music library..

5 stars!!

 Burn The Sun by ARK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.02 | 237 ratings

Burn The Sun
Ark Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There's so much that I like about this record, but there are a couple of things about it that keep me from giving it 4 stars.The first and most important are the David Coverdale-like vocals. I never was a fan of his singing or his commercial sounding music. That is hard for me to get past. The other is the lyrics, and while they may be easier to ignore they are in some cases really bad. Just read them, it will be obvious which songs i'm talking about. Having said all that, these guys create some pretty amazing music at times.

"Heal The Waters" contrasts the heavy and lighter sections (reserved vocals and synths) quite well. Good song. "Torn" opens with some atmosphere. I like it. It kicks into gear a minute in. Contrast continues. Some excellent bass in this one. Another good one. "Burn The Sun" opens with some good guitar before turning dark and heavier with vocals. Female spoken words 3 minutes in. Some fantastic guitar follows. "Resurrection" opens with some very good drumming. Cool song. I like the mellow sections. A wall of sound 5 minutes in. Nice.

"Absolute Zero" is my absolute favourite on the album. The vocals have a different tone to them. The drumming is so intricate like Bruford. It takes off 1 1/2 minutes in. Awesome bass ! Back to opening sounds as contrast continues. I just really like the style of music here which is so different from the rest of the album. "Just A Little" opens with what sounds like Spanish guitar melodies. I don't like the vocals at all or the song. Too poppy for my tastes, in fact it sounds like that guy who calls himself Seal. We do get some good electric guitar later but it's way too late to save this mess. "Waking Hour" features percussion and synths. It becomes more powerful after a minute. Contrast continues. "Noose" is quite heavy. Great guitar solo before 1 1/2 minutes. "Feed The Fire" is a good uptempo track with brutal lyrics though. "I Bleed" has the focus squarely on the vocals. Love the guitar solo after 2 1/2 minutes that goes on and on. "Missing You" is the 9 minute closer. I can't really get into this one either although it it's ok.

Good, but not even close to being great in my opinion.

 Burn The Sun by ARK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.02 | 237 ratings

Burn The Sun
Ark Progressive Metal

Review by darksideof

5 stars I am ordered it and I am listening to it for the first as a whole album now. Man!! a 5 star CD!! I was moved to get the whole album because last year I downloaded one of the best tune from the album ( Resurrection) man what a killer tune so I finally got to hear the whole album and I am loving it all ready. some part sound like Latin Prog-Metal. again 5 star. if you into Cristal clear metal hard rock music. this is most.
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