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Inside The Sound - Wizard's Eyes CD (album) cover

WIZARD'S EYES

Inside The Sound

 

Progressive Metal

4.10 | 57 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
5 stars A very special package arrived in my mailbox one afternoon, a couple of weeks ago. "Wizard's Eyes" by the Ukrainian guitar wizard Max Velychko's band project, Inside the Sound, is the long-awaited sophomore album. An instrumental project started by Velychko and bass guitarist Dmitry Trifonov in the mid-2000's, the project became a serious focus of these two in 2007 when a drummer and keyboard player were added. Their debut album, "Time Z" was released in 2010 and it has been a long wait for the second release.

As the liner notes inside the digipak explain, "We have always been influenced by guitar heros, prog-rock projects, even jazz-fusion and modern electronic indie styles of music." This easily lets you know what to expect on this album, and the results are very intelligent and pleasing music. With so much time to put it all together (six years for some songs while others were written in the early stages of the project and re-arranged for this album), the album plays out very smoothly with each track expertly crafted. After the first two listens, my thoughts were, "What if Allan Holdsworth (God rest his soul but give him a guitar just to be sure) and Bill Bruford had done a project together in the recent past and invited Steve Vai to add some solos here and there?"

This album is a success for as many reasons for what it isn't as for what it is. As Velychko is a skilled guitarist, this could easily have been and guitar instrumental album with loads of focus on the guitarist's talent. This could have been packed with awesome riffs, searing solos, and multi-tracked guitar parts. It isn't any of those things. As much as Velychko is a star here, the other band members are a very important part of the compositions. There is a variety of keyboard sounds and some solos, giving us warm, cosmic effects, mechanical moods, jazzy leanings, and cold outdoor atmospherics all depending where they are needed to enhance and create an effect in the music. The drumming is not over the top but restrained when it needs to be, much as I have felt about Bruford on his solo album, "One of a Kind", and when the bass comes to the forefront at the beginning of "To the Sky", it's such a welcome treat.

One thing that is easy to appreciate about this album is the selection of music and ordering of the songs. There are heavy, grooving rockers in "Dreaming Deja Vue" and the title track, slower, beautiful tracks in "Fantasia", "Friends", and "Horizon", but mostly a very pleasant range of sounds and mid-tempo meters throughout the album. There's a guest sitar player on "Haribol" and a tabla player on "Empire V" and "Horizon". Some of the guitar solos have that melodic metal sound, others are more jazz-fusion. I feel after each listen that the every track has been treated with the greatest of care in putting it all together for the album. A curious thing is the "bonus track", "The Cold Spring". Though the mood is certainly unique on the album (indeed I feel like I can hear water running under ice with bare fields of wet, brown straw mottled with lingering patches of snow), the music itself is just as wonderfully impressive as any other track on the album. I wonder why it was treated as a bonus track. Certainly though, it's a welcome addition to the tracklist.

One final word of praise for this album, the total running time is about 53 minutes which is just perfect. Again, every track has purpose and delivers it beautifully. There are no tracks I feel are trying to fill a quota of time length and I believe keeping the length to a reasonable less-than-an-hour leaves the listener satisfied without want or without feeling that the album is stretching. It's a wonderful listening experience.

If you are interested in hearing this, I highly recommend it. Though Max and Co. can rock it, most of the music isn't particularly heavy nor is it showy and unnecessarily complex or "weird". Instead, the album delivers a diverse palette of sounds that are easy to enjoy and invite frequent replays.

FragileKings | 5/5 |

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