A progressive metal band should progress, or continue to develop, themselves from one album to the next, right? Then the second album from Norway's Illusion Suite is definitely the charm for them. Whereas their debut put them largely in the progressive power metal genre, this one squarely breaks them out of that mold to a true progressive metal band.
That's not to say there aren't moments of the flash and thrash that accompanies the power metal side of things, but they are diminished. Rather, what you have is some very developed and intricate, but not oppressively technical, song composition. The movements, the twists and turns we expect from things like time signatures, are more elaborate and impressive, and expertly woven together.
One of the chief characteristics that progressive metal should have, from a listener's point of view, is the expectation and anticipation of what may come from song to song, but also within each song. That's exactly what you get here, and shows both Illusion Suite's depth of musicianship and maturity. Some of the best examples of all these attributes Orpheus' Quest, Nero, Nostradamus' First Prophecy, and the marvelous Uni-Twins, not so much with When Love Fails, probably the only weak link here.
The closest thing to power metal may come at the end with the short The Ugly Duckling and Premonition. The latter is only one example of how the vocal arrangements becomes another instrument in Illusion Suite's prog toolbox. (Bill Makatowicz is a versatile and listenable vocalist, except when he goes screamo on your ears.) It's also an example of how they effectively blend heaviness, even sternness, with great melody. One final individual kudo must go to drummer Roger Bjørge, who has more than a little Peart inspiration and skill in his own toolbox.
Indeed, The Iron Cemetery is quite the leap forward for Illusion Suite. With their great song craftsmanship and skillful musicianship on this album, the sky's the limit, and they set the bar very high for the next album, too. Easily recommended.
(Check out their website for more extensive detail about the album and it's creation from start to finish.)
The Iron Cemetery is quite the leap forward for Illusion Suite putting them directly into the melodic progressive metal genre with the best of their peers.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]