Album Reviews

Artlantica – Across The Seven Seas Review

Arch silhouette at sunset

Released By: Steamhammer/SPV

Release Date: May 21, 2013

Genre: Progressive Power Metal

Links: https://www.facebook.com/artlanticamusic?fref=ts

 

Line Up:

John West – Vocals

Roger Staffelbach – Guitar

Mistheria – Keyboards

John Macaluso – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. 2012

2. Devout

3. Across The Seven Seas

4. You’re Still Away

5. Ode To My Angel

6. Fight For The Light

7. Demon In My Mind

8. Return To Pharaoh Pt. 3

9. Heresy

10. Nightmare Life

 

International band Artlantica may seem like newcomers to those unaware of their history, but in truth they’re accomplished veterans in the world of metal, with guitarist Roger Staffelbach having previously worked with both vocalist John West (they were together for over a decade in the band Artension) and keyboardist Mistheria (they worked together on Staffelbach’s Angel Of Eden project), so it’s no surprise their official debut Across The Seven Seas delivers some very solid progressive power metal with strong performances across the board.

There’s a lot of variance to the songwriting, but on the whole we get a nice mix of more prog oriented sections with often complex arrangements and tricky offbeat rhythms, epic up-tempo power metal sections, and of course the typical anthemic choruses you’d expect from this kind of album. In that last area they especially do not disappoint. The heavier parts often remind me a bit of Symphony X, particularly the impressive guitar work, though the keyboards, subtle use of symphonic elements in the background on almost every song, and very distinct vocals all help to separate their sound from anyone else. In general I prefer the speedier songs, because they’re more melodic and catchy, and also because they really allow John West to shine, while some of the heavier, more complex songs are more about the instruments (including the entirely instrumental “Return To Pharaoh Pt. 3, which contains some insanely good duelling guitar/keyboard solos), though the songwriting is very strong overall.

Just looking at the name of the first track “2012” may make your eyes roll, as it appears even after all the crazy speculation was proven wrong, we still have to hear more about it in 2013. Once I got over that and actually paid attention to the music and the sound of the vocals (instead of just focusing on the silly lyrics), I found it to be a very strong opener as the main riff and chorus show off the epic power metal side of the band, while the verses are much more complicated and the challenging rhythms show off more of their progressive side, so on the whole it serves as a great introduction to the album. It also shows off John West’s incredible voice, which can change to fit in equally well during the more intense parts, the very melodic parts or even the calmer parts. Though the next track “Devout” showcases his vocals even more impressively, as we get to hear him excel on an excellent power metal song with an incredible chorus that shows off the lighter side of his voice. John is probably the biggest star of the band and he carries every song (excluding the instrumental, of course).

On the whole Across The Seven Seas is quite varied and very consistent, though my two favorite songs are “Devout” and “Fight For The Light”, which are both of the more speedy and epic power metal variant, while the aforementioned “Return Of The Pharaoh Pt. 3” follows very closely behind. On the more progressive side, I really like “You’re Still Away”, which probably has the most Symphony X influenced on it, particularly in the crushing riffs during the verses, and “Nightmare Life” is an excellent mid-tempo closer, with a nice quiet spot in the middle. On the lighter side, “Ode To My Angel” is a really nice ballad that once again shows off John’s voice.

The only real letdown of the album is “Demon In My Mind”, a very slow and plodding song which starts off interesting enough, but the chorus falls flat on its face, and the riffs just seem a little weaker and more repetitive on that one. I’m also not completely fond of the somewhat hard rock influenced verses of the title track, but the chorus is strong enough to save that song from being a disappointment.

Overall, Across The Seven Seas is a very strong debut from this new group of established metal musicians, and it’s sure to please fans of progressive power metal who enjoy a more balanced approach to songwriting, while those looking for either pure prog or pure power metal may be satisfied with some songs, but perhaps not entirely blown away by the album on the whole. Either way, as a fan of both styles I can safely say this is a very well-executed album with excellent musicianship (particularly the impressive guitar and keyboard solos throughout), and an awesome vocal performance.

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    8/10

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