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Consortium Project - Consortium Project II: Continuum In Extremis   CD (album) cover

CONSORTIUM PROJECT II: CONTINUUM IN EXTREMIS

Consortium Project

 

Progressive Metal

3.05 | 12 ratings

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lukretio
1 stars Continuum in Extremis is the second album of the solo musical project by Ian Parry, best known as the vocalist of progressive/power metal Dutch band Elegy. The singer released a first album under the name of "Ian Parry's Consortium Project" in 1999, which was intended to be a one-off departure from his main band Elegy. However, the success of the first record convinced the singer to continue the project and thus in 2001 Continuum in Extremis was released, with Parry helped once again by a large and impressive score of fellow musicians, among which many had also played on the first album, including Stephan Lill (Vanden Plas), Patrick Rondat (Elegy) and Thomas Youngblood (Kamelot) on guitars, Dirk Bruinenberg (Elegy) on drums, GŁnter Werno (Vanden Plas) on piano/keyboards, and Jan Bijlsma (Vengeance) and Patrice Guers (who will later play with Rhapsody) on bass.

While Continuum in Extremis shares many sonic characteristics of the previous records, there are also marked differences, including a general upping of the ambitions and scale of the project. For one, the music on the new album is the fruit of a more collaborative effort, with Lill, Youngbllod and Rondat all contributing to the songwriting, whereas the debut record was penned entirely by Parry. To signify the passage from solo project to a more rounded band effort, the album indeed came out under the banner "Consortium Project", dropping the "Ian Parry's" part of the band's name. Another important difference is that, while the debut album was a collection of thematically separated songs, Continuum in Extremis is a concept album based on a fairly convoluted story about a utopian/dystopian future where men and women have evolved as separate species living separate lives on the planet. Moreover, the music on Continuum in Extremis is heavier and more firmly rooted in progressive metal than the previous record, with the hard rock influences that were fairly prominent on the debut, largely dispensed of here.

While on paper these changes could have fixed some of the shortcomings of Parry's first record (especially the fairly monotonous songwriting), the new album fails spectacularly to deliver on its promises. In my opinion, it all comes down to pretty weak songwriting. This is music that uses all the right ingredients of progressive metal (gritty riffs that strike a good balance between immediacy and intricacy, richly symphonic keyboard arrangements, solid rhythm section that adds just the right amount of complexity), but somehow fails to combine them into a tasty finished product. The songs fail to build any momentum and one has often the impression that they meander directionlessly, riff after riff, into nowhere, without reaching any emotional climax or resolve. Parry's weak vocal melodies are probably the main culprit here, as they are completely unremarkable and fail to give a much-needed melodic identity to the songs. The end result is nearly one hour of music that just chugs on and on and on, without doing much else for the listener. This is what I would call "elevator metal music": an inoffensive heavy background which you can mildly nod your head to, but that becomes tremendously boring if you divert your full attention to it.

I find very little to save here. The musicianship is good, and it couldn't be otherwise given the quality of the line-up involved in the project. Parry's voice is good too, gritty and emotional, it transmits good Dio-esque vibes. The lack of good vocal melodies is a killer for me, but I cannot complain about the singer's technical performance. Songwise, the two ballads of the album ("Intrusions of Madness" and "Sentiment in Sanctuary") are among the least unremarkable pieces, featuring some interesting vocal arrangements. "What You Sow, You Reap" is another decent track with good riffs and decent vocals. The rest is pretty forgettable, even after repeated listens.

Overall, this album was pretty disappointing for me. The line-up, the concept nature of the album, and the fact that this was a follow-up to an already decent debut had made me hopeful for a good listening journey. Alas, it became an excruciatingly boring trip, with very few notable moments amidst a grey sea of dull averageness. I'd only recommend this to hardcore fans of Parry.

lukretio | 1/5 |

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