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Sieges Even - The Art Of Navigating By The Stars CD (album) cover


Sieges Even

Progressive Metal

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5 stars Long time ago I was introduced to Sieges Even "Steps" era and I was blown. Later on, I had the chance to listen the excellent "A Sense Of Change" and I knew that this band was something special ( I'd wish I had the chance to listen its follow up, "Sophisticated" which it's out of print...). Years later, I knew they were working in a project called "Valparaiso" and I loved the demos so much but unfortunately the cd never saw the light of day. Two weeks ago I was taking a look to the Inside Out Records website and VOILA!!!! a new Sieges Even album was just released!!!! This opus is a masterpiece from beggining to end, refined chops, time changes, haunting melodies, wonderful vocals ( their best ever), all this wrapped in a wonderfully produced album (cristal clear sound). Additionally, the music is very original, it just sounds like Sieges Even's A sense Of Change era but improved in every aspect Keep in mind this is not progressive metal, it is a very progressive rock album in its own kind with incursions in hard rock territory. My candidate for album of the year.
Report this review (#49926)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars All I can say after a first audition of the so awaited release of this album is...WHAT A DISSAPOINTMENT!!! Yes...defnitelly SIEGES EVEN were a major band from the technical point of view!!! Some of the European journalists called the Germans...the WATCHTOWER of European techno-trash...or technical metal!SE in 2005 are...only a shadow of the technical metal that they did in the last...millenium! Unfortunatelly the music sounds so sad and withour major ideas in 2005,a music which was made especially for shocking the fans!All I can say is that the 2005 album is something else!OK...the new singer does fair his job...the musicians know well their instruments...but where ere the technical wizzardries...where are then the compositions ?!?!And there aren't major real songs on he album!All of them sound in the same style...same way?!?! Where are the imagination and the great technical skills from the previous albums?!?!If they wanted to surprise their fans...thet did it at 100%,but it is impossible to make new fans with this kind of music!!!I want to say that if old SIEGES EVEN fans want to hear superbe instrumental music from the former SE members from UNEVEN and SOPHISTICATED cd's,then you have to buy 7 FOR 4!!!And you'll see...SIEGEN EVEN spirit lives on !!! So,it's hard to say if it's a major album of 2005.I can say it's a major dissapointment!!! And I am fan since LIFE CYCLE album...
Report this review (#55777)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars What a big disappointment! Agree with everything mentioned by reviewer Tamtam 11/8/2005. So many sites and reviewers have given this 'album of the month' or awarded full marks - WHY? Why is this labelled as Progressive Metal? Progressive maybe, but not metal. Yes the vocalist has a good voice and yes the musicians are clearly talented, but the songs and the compositionsc never get out of neutral. No great breaks or solos solos to get the adrenaline going - nothing exciting happens. In fact the 'twangy' guitar sound that is very persistent all the way through is quite irritating.No-way does this album compare to other great 2005 Prog Metal releases (so far) - Redemption / Circus Maximus / Lord of Mushrooms / Ivanhoe / Scenes and of course DT. Sorry guys - but hey, this is only MY opionion.
Report this review (#55780)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you are looking for the return of the 90's era Sieges Even, move on. Sieges Even sounds nothing like the succinct technical metal band they once were. Fortunately, certain reminiscent elements of the old sieges even style still remain. The song structures are quite interesting, and many of the melodies are formed similar to the way the band used to do it. A fair amount of instrumentals remain as well. As much as it pains me to say it, the vocal arrangements sound like CCM at times. The lyrics are the ultimate failure of the album. Myself, I am not one that typically puts too much emphasis on the lyrical quality of the music, but at times the lyrics are so amateurish on this album that I can't enjoy the rest of the music. For example, the chorus of track 6 is: "riding on a sea spray, falling from the sky, riding on a sea spray, blue wide open sea and sky." And too much of the album is like this. The vocals are poetic, but ultimately vague and meaningless. It's really not as bad an album as I think I've made it sound, but in years to come this album will be forgotten. Though the music is high caliber, it doesn't have the lyrical qualities needed to make it excellent. If you want to hear Sieges Even at their best, try to find Sophisticated...or let's all hope Inside Out will buy the copyrights and reissue it.

Report this review (#57221)
Posted Sunday, November 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sieges Even is back with another masterpiece just as good as "a sense of change". They have already proved their technical virtuosity many times in the past and this time they focus on melodies and atmosphere. This is how concept albums should be made: it follows a theme throughout the whole running time and still succeeds to be totally multisided and versatile in all aspects of music. TAONBTS clearly shows that this band has a true sense of melody and they're making music without compromises. In my mind, this is the Close To The Edge of the 2000s. They just don't make this kind of adventurous progrock anymore and I'm so glad Sieges Even is back and hopefully continues to be an exception.
Report this review (#59909)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a fantastic comeback. To all the people above, just stay with the old work. At least SE has the guts to NOT play the same tune over and over. And there's this one" Though the music is high caliber, it doesn't have the lyrical qualities needed to make it excellent. If you want to hear Sieges Even at their best, try to find Sophisticated" Yeah true, lyrically Sophisticated is a killer, give me a break. Don't get me wrong, the old ones are excellent albums. But TAONBTS deserves a place between those, sorry some of you don't get that.

To all of you who are into "great" music, do yourselves a favour, buy it. To all of you that only like 3000 notes and rythm-changes in one song, tough luck

Report this review (#60805)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a wonderful comeback!this album is truly amazing!!This how progmetal must be played today when a lot of our favorite bands (DT) disappointed us...This album is most close to the sense of change era of the band...with fantastic acoustic and emotional parts, excellent progressive moments and a great structure throughout the whole album, THIS IS A MASTERPIECE!!I saw them live just before a few days and this was one of the best concerts I've ever seen!And what a graet singer..He is amazing.Those who were waiting the return of the "watchtower" sieges even era i can understand your disappointment but give this album a chance..My favorite of the year for sure along with riverside and one of the most succesful comebacks ever made because this is about musical and emotional expression and not for using Sieges even label just for making money.Amazing work guys,great concert in Athens!!Thank you...
Report this review (#60918)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars While I can understand the disappointment of some with this comeback album, I'm afraid I cannot share it. Initially my reaction was "Oh they've gone back to 'A Sense of Change' style, and at first I too was a little disappointed. But a few days on and I must say that this is a great album and definitely my album of 2005 (although I haven't been inspired by much this year, too be fair).

I really like the way the band have structured the album as a concept split into parts and I don't really agree that it all sounds the same. Yes there are recurring themes, but for example 'Lighthouse' stands brilliantly on it's own, which is not something you could say about the individual parts of 'A Pleasant Shade of Gray'.

I take the point about the lyrics, but not being big on lyrics myself I am prepared to overlook them for the simple reason that Arno Menses is a great singer. The importance of this cannot be overstressed as I personally find it very hard to listen to the first two albums because of the atrocious singing which spoils some very good music.

I think that fans of Fates Warning would probably appreciate this album, as it seems to me to inhabit a similar field (if slightly less Metal), where melody is King and the techno bits are used sparingly. Personally I think that's a good thing. Sure I used to like listening to Watchtower and things like that but after a while it becomes a competition rather than music and I think that's a shame. A well placed passage always serves much better in my book, but I have to admit that if SE hadn't put those passages in I might not have found this album quite so enticing.

I also think that maybe Marillion fans might like this album, there's one part which really reminds me of late Fish-era Marillion, well, it's more of a bass line really...but it certainly stands out. (Sorry - can't remember which song it's in).

Report this review (#63227)
Posted Thursday, January 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars The Art Of Navigating Forward ...

This production was a big surprise for me in 2005 - they are from Germany but I never had heard from this band before. The Holzwarth brothers (drums and bass) are the constant part of SIEGES EVEN. They have searched for a new vocalist with a lot of care. Well spotted! And Markus Steffen (guitar) who produced the first three releases with the band is back. The result is extraordinary because very unique - great complex rock songs where you can hear the prog metal school.

'The view from here is frightening' - some sequences are repeated through the songs and so it looks like a concept album. The sound quality is really superb - full and heavy but every instrument can be heard crystal clear - excellent. All of the songs are containing amazing vocals and various acoustic and electric guitar work. Ignoring the intro the release starts with'The weight and I first thought: Oh boy - what else can follow after this wonderful thing? But The Lonely Views Of Condor, Unbreakable and Stigmata are on the same level. Blue Wide Open is a melancholic ballad with acoustic guitar.

Something totally new for me and therefore it seems to be a step forward in the development of Progressive Rock! I would not call this a typical Prog Metal album - metalheads may be disappointed. 'The Art Of Navigating By The Stars' can also be recommended to Neo Prog and Art Rock fans.

Report this review (#64296)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think this album is much better than anything they've done before. I haven't heard "Steps", though. As for "A Sense of Change", it seems the musicians were very busy trying to pack every minute of music with maximum quantity of notes, and that's a minus for me. This time the guys don't hesitate to "stop and smell the roses". Wonderful melodies, music which is rather complex but very listenable, and the incredible skills of every band member - that's what will make most prog lovers happy. Me too!
Report this review (#67395)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Of the many new (and resurging) prog-rock bands, Sieges Even has made greater strides than almost any band worldwide, with the possible exception of Marillion. When listening to this CD, it is hard to distunguish just how many instrumentalists are involved if one does not have familiarity with the band's lineup (which actually is 4, one being strictly the vocalist). The layering and texturing of the guitar work is truly imaginative and unique to anything I've heard before.

Comparisons have been made between Sieges Even and Rush, but in my mind it must have been their earlier releases that prompted such a comparison. I don't hear anything even remotely resembling Rush on this CD. It does hit listeners where they live, as I've introduced this to several friends (even some very hard to please) who are as impressed as I am with the band's creativity and skill in both instrumentation and in songwriting.

Standout track for me would have to be 'Unbreakable', but there isn't a dog on the whole CD.

Report this review (#70437)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Stars. I have no previous experience with the band but have read a lot about how they previously were a lot heavier than this. No matter their history, if you take this album on its own merits, you have to be blown away. The band is basically one guitar, bass and drums with a little bit of rhythm guitar with lead guitar in the mix. The Holzwarth brothers are an awesome rhythm section and Mr. Steffan makes so many full and diverse sounds with his guitar that most prog lovers will not miss the keyboards. And then you have the vocals. Arno Menses, their new singer is awesome and the vocal harmonies on the entire record are every bit as good as King's X. This pushes the boundaries of Prog Metal but doesn't really get there. The songs just ooze melody and I really would have a hard time comparing it to anything else I have ever heard. Easily an excellent addition to any prog music collection.
Report this review (#77855)
Posted Thursday, May 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Art of Making Beautiful Music

The Holzwarth brothers are European Progressive Metal legends. The creatvity and skill of these two alone is downright amazing. After ten years, Sieges Even has finally released a new album. Arno Menses and Markus Steffen are the latest musicians to walk through the revolving door the Holzwarths frequently open.

Progressive Metal is a sophisticated genre. There is a myriad of adjectives that can be used to describe many albums made by amazing musicians in this genre. This album however is one of the few I would use the world beautiful to describe. That's right, this album is downright beautiful music that can be absorbed by a listener each and every time.

The composing is different from what many have come to know Sieges Even for. This album is focused much more on creating an intimate connection with the listener. It's a concept album. The concept is one that revolves around maturing and aging, what better concept to go along with such intimate emotional music. There's great depth to the harmonies and time signatures throughout this album. The transitions are really brought out by drummer Alex Holzwarth, so the listener can never miss an important music change; unless of course the listener isn't even listening, therefore resigning his role as a listener.

Oliver Holzwarth puts in one of the artistic bass performances in the genre. His rapid scale runs and strong polyrythymns can fascinate those who could consider themselves deaf to basslines. He shows an incredible ablity to shift positions and articulate. Holzwarth is able to do so many stylistic things that many bass players in the genre do not do. His playing is smooth, sharp, light, or heavy whenever the situation calls. Holzwarth exhibts both great technique and great artistic sense, two things which are very difficult to mix.

Alex Holzwarth does many of the same things brother Oliver does except on drums. Alex Holzwarth can play the difficult polyrythymns and the technical fills. All four limbs for Holzwarth are costantly being used to play the most sophisticated rythymn parts possible. He is as dynamic on his set as Oliver is on his bass, creating great stylistic soundscapes to make beautiful music. The rythymn section of this band is above that of many five star quality albums.

Markus Steffen is the new guitarist. He is an interesting fit. His abilities do not reflect that of a typical progressive metal guitarist, but that may be one of the things makes this album so special. Steffen has a great ability to play smooth cycling arpeggio figures. He makes great transitions between keys and chords, a sign of a great choice of leading tones. Steffen has excellent technique, but rather than showing it off in solos, he has great chemistry playing with a band. Steffen is a skilled guitarist that does not get in a listener's face.

Arno Menses did not quite have the positive impact Markus Steffen did. Menses' vocals don't quite have the chemistry the rest of the band has, at least on the first lesson. With every listen Menses' vocals consistently seem to fall more into place. His vocal abilities are extraordinary with great intonation and tone, but an unconventional tone for the genre.

The production is crystal clear. The more impressive thing about the production is the variety of tones each individual instrument has while retaining this clarity. The drums, bass, guitar, and vocals all change throughout the album. This album is a tonal masterpiece that fans of active production will absolutely swoon for.

Fans of harder and faster progressive metal may not appreciate this album as much. Fans of more inventive and softer forms of progressive metal will definately appreciate this album. None the less, this album showcases great musical abilities combing excellent technique with stylistic abilities that we need musicians for. This album is one of the most human in progressive metal.

Report this review (#78361)
Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my introduction to Sieges Even and I could not be more impressed. Certainly not progressive metal anymore, but retaining those progressive metal rhythms. The guitar work is generally clean and the vocals generally restrained and melodic with some great harmonies. I can't really find fault with this release for what it is, a great prog album, perhaps there's a lot af Rush in the sound, but Sieges Even stand on their own merit. This would appeal to symphonic and neoprog fans more than a prog metaller, but if the metal fans feel like a rest once in a while, this is a good disc to chuck in and chill out to without losing the interest of a bit of prog metal influence.
Report this review (#80262)
Posted Saturday, June 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "The Art Of Navigating By The Stars" is a cleverly written album with very high quality song compositions. The album contains plenty of intricate time signatures, creative rhythms and a variety of excellent guitar solos! Markus Steffen's outstanding ability on guitar is beautifully painted all over this album. This is his masterpiece and I'm not just saying that because of his short classical guitar solos in the middle of both "Blue Wide Open" and "Lighthouse". The guitar work (electric and acoustic) throughout the album is a testament to his exceptional playing abilities. Many progressive rock bands use keyboards and/or synthesizers, but you won't find any on The Art of Navigating By the Stars and you won't miss them either. Steffen does occasionally use some psychedelic effects to enhance certain moments, but it's never excessively done nor is it ever distracting to the listener. That's the beauty of this album, truly an amazing piece of work.

After listening to a short baby laughing during the thirty second intro, the album is divided into eight different sequences just as they are listed on the album cover. Each sequence is linked somehow, sometimes with the catchphrase: "The view from here is frightening," which is repeated at carefully positioned intervals. I think the concept of the album is already starting to come into focus.

When I first got the album, "The Lonely Views of Condors" was an early FAV song, very catchy and easy to get into. The ever so soft and smooth "Unbreakable" moment followed and then everything just "Blue Wide Open." After a month or so, "The Weight" went into heavy rotation before "Stigmata" suddenly grew to be the centre of attention. "Lighthouse" eventually captured the spotlight and more than four months later, I'm thinking "Styx" and "To The Ones Who Have Failed" are two of the best penned tracks on the album. Actually, the album works best when listening to it from beginning to end without skipping any sequences. Even after all these months, I'm still taken aback every time I take this album out for a spin. Rare are the albums that only get better and better the more you listen to them over time. The Art of Navigating By the Stars is such an album!

The menu is filled with layers of acoustic guitars and sugarcoated with the clean tone of electric guitars. A flute makes a momentary appearance. Although vocals rule and the guitar work is very impressive, the bass and drums are ever present and provide much of the entertainment on hand. Everything is so very cleverly prepared and skillfully tied together.

There are moments in each sequence that I can't wait to hear and the build-up to each segment is just so well orchestrated as to give you a sense of complete satisfaction and jubilation every time they come around. I'm talking about truly unforgettable moments like; the chorus to "Stigmata," or the classical guitar solos found in both "Blue Wide Open" and "Lighthouse," or the very short and subtle drum pattern just before the great vocalization and last chorus to "To The Ones Who Have Failed," or the fast paced drumming section that appears near the two minute mark of "Styx." All of them highlights on the album and there are plenty more, simply to many interesting moments to list them all here.

All I want to do when I get home after a long day at work is sit down, lift my feet up and lay back in my surround sound room, hit the power button on my remote control and play The Art of Navigating By the Stars on my stereo. Sometimes I listen to it in the living room, sometimes when I'm preparing a meal, sometimes in bed or when I'm in front of my computer both at home and at work and again when I entertain friends! I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's great for every occasion.

The Art of Navigating By the Stars is a progressive rock album for the ages. I can't imagine ever getting tired of it. It's beauty lies within all the simplicity, the complexity, the melodies, the emotion, the lyrics and the overall level of artistic quality. :)

Report this review (#81414)
Posted Sunday, June 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After eight years of silence Sieges Even was releasing their sixth album and it became their most untypical one and certainly their most accessible one. Of course Holzwarth brothers Oliver and Alex had not been completely idle during all those years but did some guest appearances with Blind Guardian (Oliver) and Rhapsody (Alex) after guitarist Wolfgang Zenk left the band to form 7 For 4. Rejoining with Markus Steffen in 1999 they carried on under the name Looking-Glass-Self releasing a promo-EP called "Equinox". After they lost (once again) their lead vocalist Andre Matos (ex-Angra) and found a brilliant replacement with the Dutch Arno Menses they decided to restart again under the new name Val'paraiso in 2003. But soon after they had recorded the new material they realized that it contained all features which are typical for the music of Sieges Even and switched back to the band's original name.

Though I said above that TAONBTS is their most untypical album it's nonetheless true that it's still sounding without any doubts like Sieges Even and everything what we (as fans of this exceptional band) always loved with them is still there. A highly versatile and playful guitar play, one of the best rhythm sections available and complex, convoluted compositions, that are at the same time highly memorable which was hardly ever the case in their history though. Whereas previous albums had been dominated by high technical skill and therefore might have sounded a bit cold to some ears their latest work became very atmospheric revealing plenty of emotion. The compositions became that much memorable - actually one could almost whistle them walking along on the street - I would never have expected from them and this was almost a reason for me to be disappointed right after the first spin. But never mind, though I usually do not prefer music having catchy hooks, TAONBTS became more and more enjoyable for me with every additional spin. This is not really a metal album (thought there are definitely some great metal riffs present) and some old fans adoring their thrashy debut might probably be disappointed (certainly nothing like "testicular fortitude" to be found on here). The closest comparison within their discography is probably "A Sense Of Change", not only because the line-up is almost the same (apart from the singer) but also due to the absence of any real heaviness. The high degree of emotionality shown here brings also POS's Be-album into my mind, although the variation of different music styles is absent here of course. But alone the deep, thoughtful and human lyrics are justifying this comparison I think.

To sum up my review I just can recommend this album not only to fans of this bands or of progmetal in general but to anyone liking more sophisticated, complex and at the same time easily accessible slightly harder-edged rock music. If I wouldn't have rated already two of their albums with 5 stars I would not hesitate to give the full score. But 4,5 stars really!

Report this review (#94739)
Posted Monday, October 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was my introduction to Sieges Even and it absolutely floored me. Having been a metal head as well as a prog freak for more than 30 years and a published music critic in the late '80 and early '90s it takes a lot to stop me in my tracks. Navigating By the Stars did just that. The album is both flawless and more importantly seamless. Each track sets the stage for the next. Playing is both techinical and brilliant. The vocal work is impressive. Without disgressing into individual tracks this is a must own CD for anyone into prog or powerprog.
Report this review (#102517)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I would never have guessed this was a German band if I didn't know already. Also, I think it's a bit of a stretch to call this a Prog-Metal album. I was more reminded of ECHOLYN then any other band with their harmonies, short instrumental outburts and complex arrangements. Also, this is far more song oriented then the technical records of SIEGES EVEN's past.

The first song is a short intro with baby noises before we get into "The Weight" the longest song on the record. The drumming is TOOL-like in the intro before we get quick outbursts of drums after the calm vocals.There are some good harmonies and a guitar solo 4 minutes in, but the sound after 8 minutes sounds beautiful. "The Lonely Views Of Condors" opens with vocals and a guitar melody, while the bass and drums come and go. "Unbreakable" is one of my favourites on the record. Drums slowly pound as the guitar plays a lazy melody, then vocals come in. 4 minutes in the pace picks up. Nice bass lines as heavy guitar comes in and outbreaks of fast drums. The sound 6 and a half minutes in is full and heavy, it's great !

"Stigamata" has a RUSH feel to it and gets better as it goes. The sound 8 minutes in is dark with TOOL-like drumming. "Blue Wide Open" is a mellow song with vocal harmonies to open. They are replaced by gentle guitar as vocals come back. Some good intricate guitar melodies. "To The Ones Who Have Failed" is a good song, fairly heavy with meaningful lyrics. The chorus is lighter with vocal harmonies. Nice guitar solo 5 minutes in with some killer drumming and bass to follow. "Lighthouse" is a mellow tune, while the final tune "Styx" opens with some beautiful guitar. The song gets heavy on and off, with some good harmonies.

Although this wasn't what I expected at all, it turned out to be an enjoyable, melodic album. I really appreciate how well these guys play and they pulled off something special here.

Report this review (#109273)
Posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Art of Navigating by the Stars is honestly one of the most interesting prog-rock/metal recordings i have ever heard.

Its just amazing how people create melodies like this, how do they do it? I mean, after listening to PoS your amazed at how they make their songs. But with Sieges Even its even more startling how these people create their music.

Everything in this album is so beautifully crafted, so intricate, so interesting.

Vocals: The harmonising is superb. I love the way that its all done. His voice is clean, in tune and whilst not a powerful emotional filled voice, the harmonising makes up for that extremely well. The vocals on this album are more than just an extra, compulsoary layer - they become and extra instrument, adding a whole new dimension to the music

Guitar: Not too much to say about this. Basically, its beauty lies in its simplicity. No fancy shredding here. No wild, whacky solos - just straight up, honest guitar playing. Texture filled, intelligently used and simple is how to describe the guitar on this record. Often he plays clean, but he isnt afraid to put the distortion onto full, to crate a fuzzy texture, sometimes similar to Devin Townsends "wall of sound" technuique. The way he used his guitar is just so clever, it is all intricately woven into the complex rythms and sound structures.

Bass: Whereas the bass is usually just a texture maker, and instrument to fill the sound, on this album, there is no such thing. The bass is just amazing on this record. It plays some melodies, it fills texture, it even sounds like its distorted occasionally. Brilliant, just listen for yourself

Drums: The rythms here are just superb. The drums go from a gentle complex beat, to speedy and intricatelly woven. The drums here are essential at holding the complex rythms and structures together.

Keyboards: Prog-rock/metal recording nees keyboards....oh. Wait! The Art of Navigating by the Stars has no such thing! No keyboards! This basically goes to show how damn talented these men are, and they dont need artifical sounds to create a masterpice of modern prog.

Get this album. No questions.

Report this review (#112541)
Posted Sunday, February 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yesterday I was searching for an example of a progressive album with unique sound. Something far ahead but still enjoyable to your ears. And unconsciously my hand reached for this true jewel of music.

This record a year ago was my introduction to Sieges Even. I tried to explore their music and I must admit that for me something was missing from their previous albums, with the exception of "A Sense Of Change". But this one is truely perfect.

It is not as heavy as their previous works but it is technical and beautiful, full of interesting passages. Great riffs, lovely melodies and a rhythm section as solid as rock. The musicians are well tuned, they know what they are doing and they create something new. It is innovative, strange and fair. The lyrics create numerous images in your mind drifting you away. It is so unique, they have their own style. Their talent is in creating something complex that can unweariedly flow. You will definitely appreciate it more if you travel a lot and you need something to beautify your trip.

I don't like to label music. This album falls into various genres and in my humble opinion it must be considered a masterpiece in each one of them.

"My credo and my curse -We few, we happy few"

Report this review (#116537)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first Sieges Even album. It showed me what a great band I had missed out on. SE prove that keyboards are not necessary to sound progressive, as the guitars, bass, and drums lead us through infinite twists and turns, to the point that I kept looking at my iPod to see if the track had changed. Alex and Oliver Holzwarth have recruited guitarist Markus Steffen and vocalist Arno Menses. Menses is my favorite Sieges even vocalist, and Markus is adept at feeding off the incredible rhythm of the brothers (it helps that he's played with them before).

Oliver has some of the most prominent bass in prog metal, which has the unfortunate tendency to bury bass guitars. His inventive playing is highly technical, but it is never showy. Likewise, Alex plays impossible rhythms and counter-rhythms without taking up space sonically. Markus plays with texture and feeling as opposed to seeing how many notes he can shove in a minute. Anso is really the first vocalist for Sieges Even to meld his voice with the instruments. He has a great sense of harmony, though he is a bit emotionless (not unusual for prog metal, so it's not too bad). The lyrics, as always are nothing special, but the concept ( seems to have upped the ante on the songwriting, so the words here are better than on previous efforts. The music reminds me of Fates Warning: incredible melodic and technical performances without dazzling displays of proficiency.

This is one of the better albums of 2005. Sieges Even are the kind of metal band you share with people who don't like metal. It has atmosphere and it is barely heavy enough to qualify as metal. If you like Fates Warning, the odds are good you'll like this album. It is the most emotional album in the band's discography, which is weird considering the coldness of Menses' voice (the harmonizing gives it a softer quality, though). Highly recommended

Grade: B

Report this review (#134730)
Posted Friday, August 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't know where to start with this. It has to be one of my favourite CDs and I have a big collection. I loved this album almost from the get-go. Every song is outstanding but I think it's wrong to classify it as prog metal. It's almost classic prog rock rather than metal, save for a number of very chunky guitar riffs. I found myself singing along to songs from the second play onwards. Also how many prog bands are that have lots of intricate layers of sound and yet don't have a keyboard player (Rush has a part time one who also happens to play bass). If you get one prog album for Christmas it should be this one. It's essential.
Report this review (#150371)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Art of Navigating by the Stars. this is the first record and experience i had of this band, recently. i turned into sophisticated and a sense of change and i found maturity, musicality, taste and a very emotional aproach on this one.

Arno menses has a sweet tone of voice. acording to the compositions, the atmospheric guitars and synths... does a great job, and Backing vocals are just awesome. it´s contagious his sensitiveness when perfom the songs, conect to the listener to the theme. guitar job also, it´s impresive here... lots of post production fx... riffing is eclectic... arpegios, melodies and good prog pasaes in 7/8 aother metrics... guitar and bass do some good polirithm and ostinatos here. i see this album not as a metal-progresive album, yet, i understand dissapoinment, and could share it. i think the focus of this metalheads on this album is they setled down, took pen and paper, inspiration and a great degree of sensitiveness. i found the fact of 2 power-progresive monsters playing in this album showing his taste to make somethig beyond (or nearest) we usually spect of the stereotype of metalhead as the holdzward bros. i found as a drummer, stigmata the lonely view of condorsand stigmata like my personal favs. drumming here has a cool aproach. oportune, and intense without overshadow the music and what goes around.

i put simply. everytime i add music on my mp3, this is the only disc remains. metal doesnt means always heavy, also means tastefull and valuable...

Report this review (#157047)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great, timeless record, with Markus Steffen (again) and Arno Menses (newbie). The merits of the Holzwarth brothers are beyond measure, as everone knows. Although (or maybe because) this is a very good record that belongs in every progger's household I had to kind of conquer it - and I still wrestle with two of the tracks (see below). Markus Steffen proves once more that he is the master of tasteful prog metal - when he is on form you won't anything better, just equal at best. But enough of the eulogy, on with the rating:

Navigating by the Stars / The Weight: With the thirty seconds of the intro gone we are greeted by the heaviest riff of the album. This wonderful 10 minute track is a true masterpiece and beyond the art of substantial description, just listen for yourself (5/5.)

The lonely view of Condors: The next masterpiece of tasteful bliss. the alternating slow/fast sections are to good to be true. (5/5)

Unbreakable:Problematic track no. 1 (at least for me). the introducing riff is a killer and if the rest of the song could keep the promise that riff made this track would have been a monster. So we finally end up with a fragile track where the instrumenatl sections don't really fit and everything reeks of showing-off. (3/5)

Stigmata: Has a very catchy and pleasant singalong chorus and again an instrumental section that has nothing to do with the things going on in the song (4/5).

Blue Wide Open: Problematic track no.2. This is a harmless avarage ballad, but this time the instrumental section is quite nice. (3/5)

To the Ones who have failed: The next masterpiece. Interesting shifting of the drummer between 6/8 and 7/8 bars. Everthing perfect with this track (5/5).

Lighthouse: An unexpected masterpiece. I recognized the value of this track only relatively late because the style is so mellow it caught me unawares. Reminds a bit of the mellower side of Yes. (5/5)

Styx: This track contains pretty many themes. It takes up the mood of the preceding song and then gets heavier. This is not as carefully crafted as the masterpieces on this album, but deserves attention (4/5).

So its 34 stars divided by 8 tracks (I don't count the intro) = 4,25 stars.

Get your hands on this one. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#163044)
Posted Sunday, March 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not so much of the Metal but a lot of the progressive, the new vocals have finally taken a good band and made it great, some of back ground commetry in the odd track is a little 'has been', but all the tracks are solid and have good meloic depth while still not too un-heavy.
Report this review (#172315)
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Looking back at an old review of mine, this album still stands the test of time. It was my introduction to Sieges Even and I couldn't have been more impressed at the time. It remains a constant on my listening schedule. Not quite progressive metal, but retaining those complex jazzy progressive metal rhythms. The guitar work is generally cleaner and the vocals generally restrained and melodic with some great harmonies. I can't really find fault with this release for what it is, a superb prog album, Sieges Even stand on their own merit. This would appeal to symphonic and neoprog fans more than a prog metaller, but if the metal fans feel like a rest once in a while, this is a good disc to chuck in and chill out to without losing the interest of a bit of prog metal influence. Masterpiece (still).
Report this review (#173423)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I discovered Sieges Even just on this website by reading reviews of A Sense Of Change, where the reviewers talk about a masterpiece of prog-metal with a lot of technical elements... I heard that album just to have a picture of this band and I liked it but when I heard this The Art Of Navingating By The Stars I just loved it. They aren't the traditional prog- metal band. Yes, their music is made of a lot of technical riffs and changes of tempo but there are many acoustic and jazz influence. And they also can be original and creative without using keyboards (except some samples), generally considered an essential instrument for a progressive band! And what can we say about the singer? I love Arno Menses' voice; it's very far from the traditional metal voice, it's more commercial and melodic but I think it's the new weapon of Sieges Even in the new millennium. And I think that The Art Of Navigating By The Stars is their masterpiece! They spend many years to find the right formula but I think these are the best Sieges Even I have ever heard. It is a complete album that alternates prog-rock, art rock, metal, and some pop-rock melodies too. Their sound has become less metal and more melodic and progressive than their beginnings albums but almost every song has got some metal-oriented parts with distorted guitars and heavy riffs. Somebody could have nostalgy of their techno thrash metal origins but a progressive fan should like this change! I think that playing in this style, their music, although could seem more difficult to listen, is tidier. I just can't find a weak moment in this album, all the songs are masterpieces of a masterpiece.

5 stars, without thinking about it! You don't have to have this album, you must!

Report this review (#184559)
Posted Friday, October 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars After reading so many glowing reviews about this band I've decided to get what they called their best. And boy, was I surprised by their sound! I know it is hard to label them, but to call it prog metal is going a bit too far. There is nothing vaguely metal here. In fact, if not the lenght of the songs and the shifting moods and the skilled musicanship you could almost mistake Sieges Even for a pop/alternative band (almost).

Don't get me wrong: they are prog. Even with no keyboards at all, those guys cannot be nothing else but progressive (long songs, the sudden tempo changes, the intricated musical parts and so on). The vocal lines are also great: Arno Menses has both the pleasant voice and the vocal technique to match his bandmates instrumental expertise (wonder how they play those songs live, with all the guitars overdubs, sometimes in the vein of Steve Howe from Yes, and the many harmony vocals). What strikes me is the fact that their songs are melodic enough to please even pop music lovers, while their craft will leave many listeners open mouthed. Different and hard to label, indeed. Production is top notch, you can hear everything very clear.

Since this is my first contact with this interesting band, I can't say much about their earlier and/or latter work, but surely it made me very curious about them (future reviews on them will come). Worth a (careful) listen. My rating for this album: 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#186626)
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is actually the first progressive album that I've listen to and it's also the one that brought me to Progressive music altogether - and made me want to listen to more. The third track, "The lonely views of Condors", was the first track that I've heard from that album and I immediatly liked it. At first I was a little intrigued but the more I listened to it the more I wanted to relisten this song. It still remains as one of my favourite ones from that album (it's actually very hard to give individual ratings to the tracks on this album, if not nigh to impossible), although Markus Steffen, the guitarist, wrote in the forums once (the first forum, the one that suffered from the database crash) that this particular song was merely pieced together from several composed parts.

Even though I assume that opinions will severly differ on that topic, I still consider this album to be somewhat of a concept album. It doesn't explicitly tell a story or tale or something along these lines, it rather tells the story of life in a generalised way, beginning with the first track, the laughter of a newborn, and ending with dark music and foreshadowing lyrics (a similar theme is used in the end of the song "Stigmata" and in the beginning of the second track, implying circular character of life). This idea is found throughout the whole album and ends with Styx - a very fitting name for the last song - the river of death. The lyrics themselves have a slightly medieval touch (the band, or rather Markus Steffen, cited Lord Byron and Shakespeare as their/his influences, though I cannot recall that correctly anymore), although this may just have been my first impression. Still, the lyrics contain so much, more ore less cryptic, imagery and metaphors, it's just enjoyment listening to them and imagining what thought may have crossed these guys' minds while they wrote them.

Even though I think I recall Arno Menses, who became their new vocalist at that time, saying, that he was quite nervous about singing on that new album so that he couldn't bring out his full potential. Whether or not that is true, his singing remains very melodic and beautiful. Of course it is quite a change compared to their 1991 album "A Sense of Change" (which is sadly the only of their older albums that I've had a chance to listen to) and Jögi Kaiser's "jazzy" style of singing but Arno does an excellent job at establishing himself as the band's new singer in that constellation (which, unfortunately, didn't last all too long after that). It fits Markus melodic way of playing the guitar perfectly. The distorted parts on this album are nice and heavy, the solos are great yet they aren't too protruding which could've hurt the wonderful interplay of the vocals and instrumental parts; the use of Markus' classical guitar is amazing, an instrument I haven't been privileged to hear too often in progressive metal.

The Holzwarth brothers are another thing that really amazed me with this album. Until now I never thought about the Bass as such a strong instrument as it is used here; this album really widened my perception of music in respect of that instrument. The bass is not employed as a bass in the sense of today's rock music (sorry, but as I said - my first prog album), it's being used as a real bass-guitar here. The interplay between Markus' guitar and Oliver's bass is hard to convey in words. It's delighting to hear the bass and the guitar changing back and forth between their roles as rhythm and solo instruments. Same thing goes for Alex, too. The drums provide a consistent background and whenever a climax point is reached they hit it big (that is especially the case in Stigmata, atlhough "climax point" may be a bit exaggerated, I just couldn't find a more fitting expression).

It's also an amazing thing to notice, that Sieges Even doesn't have a keyboard player or an additional musician. They keep it very simplistic with the guitars, bass and drums - maybe an effect thrown in here or there. The only time where an additional instrument comes into play is the flute in "Lighthouse". As far as I recall, again - Markus said that in the forums, it was an improvisation of someone who was in the studio when they recorded the album. It couldn't be more fitting though. The flute is preceded by the guitar and it gives the whole song an interesting new direction, a slight classical touch. It's great how the song is pieced together and how these two acoustic instruments are incorporated into the combination of the other electric instruments.

The only thing that really bothered me a little is the intro of "Blue Wide Open". For some reason I am somehow irritated by that vocals only part right at the beginning of the song - it's just something I cannot put my finger on. Still, once you get past that you can look forward to hear Markus at work, who has actually been helped by Oliver Holzwarth, the bassist. That's why that beginning cannot really change my opinion on that five star rating. Everything about that album is just right. It's always a joy to resign these beautiful lyrics or to play whole passages in your head and after all these years I'm still not tired from it. I just hope these guys had as great of a time producing that album as I have listening to it.

As for the songs: I will abstain from giving each song an own review. The only thing that is worthy of mention is how great the songs have been pieced together e.g. the ambience effects that have been used to connect some of them etc. I hope this first review of mine may have given you a little more insight into the music of Sieges Even. Of all the four albums I've listened to (A Sense of Change, The Art of Navigating by the Stars, Paramount, Playgrounds) this one is, in my opinion, the best one.

Report this review (#224370)
Posted Friday, July 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Progressive metal is the genre I find myself least surprised by these days. Bands tend to nail the technicality pretty easily, but after that tend to be lacking in one of three areas; vocals, compositional memorability and/or lyrical sensibility.

Hence, I suppose, my utter surprise at the fact that Sieges Even nail all four of these areas in the best way possible on their 2005 release 'The Art of Navigating By The Stars', featuring for the first time the lead vocals of a rather talented young bloke by the name of Arno Menses. Perhaps it was this addition that gave this group the extra punch in order to go from great to a level of sonic ability that borders on the fantastic.

Still, Sieges Even have always had an interesting contrast within their music that sets them apart from the majority of progressive and non-progressive metal bands currently out there at the moment; an almost poppy sense of creating melodic lines with the instruments and vocals (like Yes or early Queensryche) juxtaposed against thrashy guitar riffs that explode out of nowhere when you least expect it, along with punchy drums and almost Chris Squire-like bass to give the whole set of songs a strong sense of rhythmic development, and this style is most clearly evident in kickstarting tracks such as "The Weight" and the oddly jazzy 'Lighthouse'. Still, there's not a weak track in the whole bunch here; the compositions remain strong and never fall into the traps of cheese or self-indulgence.

In all honesty, good progressive metal that stands out in any way at all is rare. For that alone, even if this album weren't executed at the level that it is, I'd still hand this baby 5 stars. As it is though, 'The Art of Navigating By The Stars' is the best melodic progressive metal album I've had the pleasure of listening to since Pain of Salvation's early 2000's material, and deserves any and all accolades that may be heaped upon it.

Interesting music in a genre that far too often simply isn't that interesting. 5 stars!

Report this review (#264491)
Posted Friday, February 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK. This one is amazingly special !

I must start by saying that I am a keyboard/piano player... and there is no keyboard at all in this CD music. Just to put you in the context... You might expect that I will reject this one as being completely outside of what I like to hear. Well, it is the strong exception, and a huge surprise. Resembling if we try to force an extreme-metal prog listener to like a pop-CD from Phil Collins !

What does this thing brings to the prog world ? Since its average score is very high, there should be something in.

As they say in the lyrics, 'the view from here is frightening'... The result is frightening !

Well, the sound quality is amazing, the rythmic section is fantastic, the voices are top-notch quality, and the guitar sound is very unique. You will hardly find this type of sound elsewhere. I would qualify it as being 'cristalline'. Even though 'Sieges Even' is rated as a prog-metal group, I don't find this CD as metal oriented at all, and in my view and personal taste, it helps liking it a big lot. There is a lot of energy, through the guitar, the voices, the combination of bass/percussions which are pro-performed, plus a very high sound quality. This CD, as someone here said (good remarks, and I specially agree totally) has to be listened from track 1 to the last, without stopping (all tracks are excellent, no exception). And every listening (without stopping) brings you an ambiance that you get used to, and that is reflected in the next listening, where you find the CD as being 'better'. So, it raises in your 'compilation/collection', as it did in mine. After 3-5 times, I was just thrilled to encounter this as going up in my preferences (actually in my Top-10). It is much surprising to get such a very good music, original, with a unique sound (the cristalline guitar) and some power ! Superb indeed.

What do you get when every single track is very good, and when you are thrilled at each listening ?

Five ! Enjoy ! To be discovered without any fault.

Report this review (#277251)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lots of praise for this one, and it's understandable why - prog metal fans have a fetish for polish, and this album is nothing if not slick. A little too slick, if you ask me, though...I do miss the way that Sieges Even would employ instrumentals in the past to explore their music rather than just decorate it.

The elements of a well-crafted release are all here: thick, swimming bass, vocal lines that are Yes-like, but more reserved and intimate (it's gotta sound "mature," don't you know), and clockwork Rush riffs sprinkled with Sieges Even's own homegrown prog crunch that brings to mind an appropriately oceanic atmosphere. I feel, however, that that instrumentals are lacking on this album, and for the most part they serve as little more than a means to segue between Arno Menses' vocal deliveries. There are some exceptions, but they are altogether too brief and scattered. The breakdown in the middle of the final track, Styx, is illustrative of this - suddenly, a refreshing dynamic change that throws the listener into a mash of start-stop guitar crunch reminiscent of late Fates Warning...and then it segues perfectly into a bass-led melody...and then it returns...and repeats...and ends. It starts, but decides to move on before it goes anywhere. The reviewer weeps for fond memories of Tangerine Windows of Solace, all of whose themes and ideas were dissected and scrambled seven ways from Tuesday (in a way that would make all but the most patient fan nauseous, but damn, were they rigorous about it). That's not to say the progressive instrumentals aren't there, but they are taking a backseat this time around, and the album is primarily a series of pleasant melodies adorned, rather than commanded by, the three fantastic instrumentalists this band has to offer. This is a trend that I dislike in Siege's Even's music, and one that would continue on into Paramount.

That's not to say the decoration I'm talking about is bad - far from it. Steffen's plucking during The Lonely Views of Condors ("Now I'm soaring on lost latitudes...") is perfect, and Oliver Holzwarth's bass gives the album a constant feeling of depth and foreboding (and how appropriate, given the album content). I just long for some juicy prog deliberation and reassembly is all; the closest we get is the fantastic solo during To the Ones Who Have Failed (again, these guys were *clearly* listening to Fates Warning), and that's not quite enough for me. The repeating theme of the album, which appears three times and seems to unite some sort of concept, feels tacked on, though the sound of the music as a whole is cohesive. This leads to a climax at the end of Styx that overstays its welcome and softens the blow of an otherwise overwhelming track - you don't HAVE to bookend the album for symmetry, especially when it distracts from the goal of the songs. Other than that, however, the feel of the album is superb; you can hear a lot of fear and courage mixed into it, from the gentle nursery melody that starts Lighthouse (highly reminiscent of Dream Theater's Through Her Eyes, at least to my ears) to the bizarre climbing one-note guitar riff in Stigmata. It's definitely an original work in many ways, and for the *most* part it's a pretty intense emotional experience.

HOWEVER! Sometimes this sentimentality is overblown - the lyrics move from one vivid metaphor to the next, many of which are cliched or unbelievable in context. Check out the vocal harmony that opens Blue Wide Open. No thanks! Though in all fairness the track is salvaged by some nice acoustic guitar work. Furthermore, there's some rambling going on - The Weight in particular (a track that reminds me of Yes' Machine Messiah) meanders, and some of the later vocal stuff is stale ("The more we wait for things to change / The more they stay the same / And the more they stay the same / We change") Ay ay ay. And, as a final criticism, the production is a double-edged sword, as with most modern prog metal. It's clean, but lacks dynamic contrast in many places.

That's about all I have to say! This is good but not amazing. Three stars.

Report this review (#341184)
Posted Thursday, December 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here we are! Sieges Even have produced their best work: a concept album unravelling itself through 9 songs (one "Intro" plus 8 "Sequences"). Every piece is kind of an impressionistic picture suggesting several moods we can easily catch, select and tune to our own one. I came across this album late, just few days ago, and I cannot stop listening to it yet. As a prog, and in particular symphonic- and metal-prog fan, I find myself home in the melodies following one another. The changes in rhythm, strictly odd in the best prog tradition, the awesome lyrics and the complex musical texture are perfect to make me consider this album as a perfect "prog product", not only for its strong technical and formal contents but mainly for its huge soul. The sounds remind me the atmospheres fashioned by Everon, Mind's Eye, Enchant or Dream Theater in their symphonic performances. Such a mixture of symphonic and metal prog, in which tough and heavy sounds to melodic and lyric passages are perfectly blended, results in an astonishing combination. Besides, it is amazing how a classic hard rock line-up, with no keyboards aid at all, makes it possible to produce such a typical prog sound. The guys are first class professionals: Arno Menses' voice is superb and perfect for the band's sound, Markus Steffen's guitar is actually the second voice when not the first, Alex Holzwarth is a complete prog drummer and his brother Oliver's bass support is crucial. Besides, overall arrangements and orchestration are undisputable as much as the technical ability of the band members. Now, given that I consider myself as a "soul examiner", I try to scrutinize the tracks one by one, skipping the "Intro". "The weight" carries our thoughts far away and, with its circular motion, leads them to the sea, possibly by the Irish shore. "The lonely view of condors" makes us fly over the mountains covered by snow in springtime, with the surrounding nature reviving yet again. "Unbreakable" brings us back to the sea, with its ripples sound at the beginning, but transmits us a strong sense of loss. "Stigmata", my favourite, is like a river rolling down its course, increasing and decreasing its speed and ending in a waterfall at times when the sound, shrouded for some moments, is brought back to life by large broadenings of the melody. "Blue wide open" is an acoustic interlude in which the guitars play with one another in a voyage through the ocean. "To the ones who have failed" goes back to the stylistic structure of "The weight" but with a definite metal structure interposed to symphonic moments in a crescendo of sensations typical of the dry land after the previous voyage. "Lighthouse" is a quiet lyric poem reminding the shore once again, with an awesome guitar solo prompting flamenco atmospheres and ending up in a ballad. "Styx", the last track, is the sum of all the previous pieces. Being the epilogue of the album, it lives on itself but refers many times to the other songs. "The art of navigating by the stars" is full of all the stuff a progster loves and expect from an album. It must definitely be considered as a progressive rock masterpiece, one of the best of the 2000's first decade. The Munich quartet confirms its definite growth right with this work. Previously they had shown first class ideas and capability but this time they have reached their climax . Bravo, then! Sieges Even is the band I will refer to from now on when I think to very well made and performed "sympho-metal-prog".
Report this review (#456741)
Posted Saturday, June 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars beautifully done! Sieges Even nails it right here...even though this was the first SE album i heard (after seeing the superlative ratings and reviews on this site).

Arno Menses works terrific for this sound...and i think he makes the difference on this album. SE have always been quite strong instrumentally but i personally could not ignore the horrible singing to get into their songs which is a shame because some of their earlier stuff could have been so much better with someone like Menses at the mike.

this album has some great compositions - melodic, frantic, upbeat, dreamy and melancholic at different times, i can see why its so highly rated by many.

stand out songs: The Lonely Views of Condors, Stigmata, To the Ones Who Have Failed and Styx. The Weight (plus the title-track intro) pulls its "weight" as does Unbreakable.

the only slightly out-of-place song for me is Blue Wide Open - its quite nice and pleasant but i dont see how it fits into everything around it. it feels made-up. that, and the (slight) similarity across all the songs (even though its supposed to be linked by a concept/ theme) is what keeps this from being a 5-rater

Report this review (#477342)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

This is not just good.

It's phenomenal. It is magnificent. It's perfect.

It Sieges Even.

This is the name of the German band that won me over with his sixth album, entitled The Art of Navigating by the Stars. Launched in 2005, this album marked a return to the band's music scene after an absence of eight years. And wow, that return.

This album is spectacular. It would be rather presumptuous to say that he is in my Top 10 progressive metal, but hey, why not? The musicianship on this album is nothing short of amazing, and he was one of my best finds this year (and I've already heard a lot of thing in 2011).

The main thing about The Art of Navigating by the Stars is that it is not an album for headbangers and heavy metal fans. In fact, say that this album is heavy is a kind of sacrilege. it can be anything - melodic, emotional, harmonious, versatile - but isn´t this . I mean, there are times when the guitars provide us with aggressive riffs and things take a frightening turn, but they are only moments - as a whole, the album is far from it.

The nine songs on this album are just part of something larger - a true 63 minute epic that reveals many facets, styles, influences. Starting with the laughter of a baby and ending with the main theme of the album - that verse "The view from here is frightening" (that besides Styx, the final track, is sung in The Weight, Stigmata and probably some other song) - the album reveals a cycle, whose lyrical focus seems to be related to the phases of life. this is evidenced by the laughter of baby described above and the title of the last track, Styx, which is the river of death in Greek mythology.

Musically, the album is impeccable (forgive me if I am using too many adjectives in this review). Seriously, rad band is very good - and they do not have a keyboardist, I admit that in my opinion this is the only weak point of the album, because sometimes lack that "atmosphere" that keyboards offer - but this is offset by four prodigious and excellent musicians: the brothers Oliver and Alex Holzwarth drums and bass respectively, Markus Steffen guitarist and vocalist Arno Menses .Each one shines in its function, not lacking. With them aboard, who needs a keyboard?

(Actually there is an external element to the album: a beautiful flute in Lighthouse but according to Menses was a kind of improvisation)

Well, gives pair see how much I liked this album and how much I recommend it to other listeners. It may not be the progressive metal album that is expected, but up to my expectations - and is now one of my favorites of the genre. 5 stars!

Report this review (#525569)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I should note that overall, Sieges Even, while a talented group, are not my preferred taste in progressive music. However, there are a few gems in their repertoire that I enjoy. Most of the songs on this album feel like they are trying too hard to be complex and original without finding a good balance between highly progressive ideas and palatable ones.

In my opinion, the music is generally pleasing, but can get grating at times with a lack of flow from phrase to phrase. If you enjoy disjunctive music that incorporates several abruptly imposed highly contrasted themes within one composition, this album is for you. One thing this album does not lack is complex rhythm arrangements.

There are several songs in which accapella-type harmonies are used (such as those used by bands such as Pure Reason Revolution). Arno Menses usually sings in the higher ranges using vibrato somewhat liberally. Technically, the music is skillful and without too much showboating (although they do make their skill known). The production is good and the band is quite precise.

The mood is often uplifting and or exciting, while sometimes osculating from melancholy or dark moods to joyous beauty and confidence. My rating of this piece may be more a reflection of my musical taste than of the actual quality of the album. This band has elements recognizable from other progressive bands that I enjoy such as Pure Reason Revolution and Sylvan.

Report this review (#544625)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars After almost a decade pause Sieges Even is back with a new album from 2005 named The Art Of Navigating By The Stars. Well, I've always like this band, what they offerd in the '90s is the best from their catalogueand is high calibre prog metal with complex technical passages. With this album they change little bit the direction, musicaly and vocaly, with a new voice Arno Menses who done a good job but is far from the complicated and jawdropping vocal parts done by my fav vocalist from them and their best from all they had Jogi Kaiser from Sense of change. The music is the light side of prog metal, with lots of slow and mid tempo parts, only here and there they speed up little bit to come with a contrast in arrangements, aswell the vocalist even is not bad at all , is to clean and far more less theatrical then predecesors. I don't really know how to judge this release, is not a typical prog metal album, has some complicated moves here and there, but is less intricate and complex then the 90's albums. The best tune to me is Unbreakable, the rest are ok, but nothing more, really. 3 stars. For sure not their best.

Report this review (#789902)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the things that's often said about The Art of Navigating By the Stars is that it heavily downplays the metal side of Sieges Even's sound, to the point where some have argued that it isn't really a prog metal album. Whilst it's true that it isn't especially heavy and for long sections Markus Steffen doesn't break out anything you'd recognise as a particularly metallic riff, I think it is an interesting experiment in applying specifically progressive metal compositional attitudes and approaches to less metallic material, with the end result being an unusual and unique album which will appeal to prog metal fans provided they don't go in expecting much in the way of heaviness.
Report this review (#859496)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars A sublime work. Sieges Even are perhaps best known for complex rhythm section and abrupt shifts in melody. This approach is still evident here, but has been restrained to the point of being, well, sublime. As one reviewer pointed out, these songs could easily be amplified and heard as metal. But there's almost no distortion here. It's layered, but drenched in melancholy and bittersweet melodies and has the cleanest production I've heard. You can literally hear every pluck of the bass string and click of the drum stick. Vocals are in the higher register, bright and strong.

As for drawbacks, I have to admit its kinda boring, even for this lover of melancholy on a countryside night. Even my wife, who likes her music not aggressive, says it bores her. So unless your friend is a prog head, I don't recommend giving it to your partner in life. And the title - Art of navigating by the stars - is on the borderline of depth and pretentiousness, depending on your point of view. I prefer deep.

Report this review (#1025143)
Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, so I'll make this short for no other reason than I don't need to go into much detail over this fantastic record. Furthermore, it's not my style (to write lengthy reviews) and I'd also like to mention that this is my very first review on Progarchives so I'd like to set some sort of tone for what could be expected of my contributions in the future.

I discovered The Art Of Navigating By The Stars in 2013. I don't remember how, but oh man was I happy to have made such a discovery! Every time I'd pop it on I'd actually WANT to write about the album and share my love of it with people! I've finally done it, case in point!

Anyway, as far as progressive metal goes, this is up there with the best of them. Now when I say "the best of them" I have no intention of comparing or dropping any names, but what I'm trying to get across here is that if you take some of the ideal aspects of this genre and put 'em together then that should equate to "the best of them". Again, I don't want to elaborate on that, I feel like subjectivity will win here and any true progressive metal fan might understand that I'm referring to the highlights and defining characters of the genre.

The album itself isn't the heaviest but it's definitely heavy enough. It also has great dynamics in it so if you're looking for something really musical and great at mixing the heavy with the mellow, then you'll love this record.

It's smart, it has those tinges of European metal which elicits excitement from me personally, it has great rhythms and musicianship. It's a great ride!

One of my favourite tracks on it is Sequence VI: To The Ones Who Have Failed. Sequence IV: Stigmata is also a fabulous piece that stands out for me.

Well, I guess this review wasn't as short as I set out for it to be! Thank you for reading.

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Posted Thursday, March 6, 2014 | Review Permalink

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