The last few months have seen some very impressive metal based progressive rock albums released by Therion, Threshold, Rush and Porcupine Tree, plus not forgetting the soon to be released Dream Theatre album. But another that should be mentioned is this debut by Thought Chamber. Based around guitarist Michael Harris, together with vocalist Ted Leonard from the excellent Enchant, this is a very impressive and confidant opening gambit from this American five piece band.
The music is complex, with lots of twists and turns, yet highly melodic. The musicianship is very high with the interplay between each player intricate and very tight. Harris's guitar playing is very expressive. Not just the usual metal thrashing, but lots of different tones are used to really make each piece expressive and colourfully textured. Nice synth playing from Bobby Williamson and the rhythm section of bassist Derek Blakley and drummer Rob Stankiewicz is dynamic and really keeps all the time changes together in a cohesive, flowing manner.
The album opens with the instrumental "Premonition", a sort of overture for the album. This flows into "A Legend's Avalon", which is currently my favourite piece. Starting with a powerful opening introduction with lots of interplay between metal guitars and twiddly synths. There are some very intricate instrumental sections throughout, even a nice jazz guitar part which reminds me of Fripp. In saying that there is the feel, if not the sound, of latter day Crimson at certain points throughout the album. This opening song alone covers so much ground and the layering of instruments is so dense yet expertly arranged.
Although the heavy elements are abundant throughout the majority of the tracks, there is some respite in the more laid back "Silent Shore". This is nicely symphonic with an eastern flavour to the proceedings. Suitably restrained vocals by Ted Leonard on this too. Another highlight is the instrumental "Mr Qwinkle's Therapy". The band really go to town on this fiery paced workout.
This really is a very impressive debut and another winning signing to the always reliable InsideOut label. I predict that hopefully if there is a second album this band will be soon at the forefront of challenging progressive metal.
I've been hanging around Dream Theater since the beginning, and lately listens in awe to their latest release Systematic Chaos, feeling nothing, without comparison whatsoever, even reached beyond kneelevel of the prog Gods.....until I listened to the samples of Angular Perceptions. I was sold and bought the album straight away. What struck me most about the music after the first listening, was the immense complexity and the slightly different sound, though the same instrumentation as DT. Second listening revealed a musicianship from another planet, expressed in the awesome instrumental Accidently On Purpose. Guitarist and frontman Michael Harris uses jazzy soloriffs and bassist Derek Blakley show off with equilibristic percussive funky fills. Rare stuff but extremely wellcomposed. As the second instrumental Mr. Qwinkle's Therapy takes us through a Rush'ian and Crimsonian tour de force of breaks and rythmturns, the DT inspired A Legend's Avalon, throw us off our feet, again with some funky bassplaying from Derek Blakley in the middlesection. Sacred Treasure is another one of my favourites with Enchant singer Ted Leonard sometimes sounding like an early Steve Walsh.
This is a perfect and promising album with it's own integrity and heroic musicianship. Buy it before your neigbour, you won't be disappointed.
Thought Chamber started as a side project in 2006, between a pedigree of dynamic and proven individuals coming together to deliver an a-typical and inspirational metal album. Of course the progressive mindset behind it is to be applauded, this album still has an abundance of transcending personality, soul and a sporadic distribution of radiant elements in distillation with they're music. All of which is topped off by a passionate vocal from the 'one and only' Ted Leonard' from "Enchant", makes Angular perceptions' a curious debut CD.
One thing I like about this brand of progressive metal is that the technical and songwriting qualities are uniform and collectively collaborate, to put they're own spin on the sub-genre. A rhythm and bass aware CD, there are so many subtle moments and delicate flinches on top of a pretty solidly written incubus. Angular perceptions' isn't up there with the mandatory classics we are familliar with; but a supergroup of this kind of caliber behind all this. 'Angular Perceptions' coukd be regarded as what would be expected as a bar minimum. 4 stars worthy, and well worth checking out!.
Favourites include:- "God of oblique & A mind beyond".
I originally came across this band after hearing and falling in love with the song 'Transmigration of Souls', and upon finding out that their singer was none other than Enchant's Ted Leonard, I just knew I had to have this album.
One word: Wow.
After a two minute instrumental opening track, the song 'Sacred Treasure' completely blew me away, with its intro full of random guitar/keyboard/bass licks and solos, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. So many instruments playing so many different things at once. Interestingly layered melodies and harmonies makes this an instant classic in my eyes.
The typical prog metal cliche is that this is very 'Dream Theater inspired', and whilst I'm not denying that, Thought Chamber have a very cool, exotic style and mixture of elements which make this a truly unique group. The amazing playing and songwriting style could easily stand toe-to-toe against DT, and songs like 'Sacred Treasure', 'Balance of One', 'God of Oblique' or any of the instrumentals justify this.
At times Leonard's vocals seem a little thin for this style of music, but hey, I'm not complaining, it still sounds awesome. In fact, there is nothing to complain about, this is one hell of a debut, and deserves a place in every prog fans collection.