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Articles Home » 2009 Articles » Ulysses - 2009 The Gift Of Tears
Ulysses - 2009 The Gift Of Tears

ARTIST: Ulysses
ALBUM: The Gift Of Tears
LABEL: Symbioses Music
YEAR: 2009
SPONSOR: Symbioses Music


LINEUP: Sylvester Vogelenzang de Jong - guitars * Ron Mozer - synths * Casper Kroon - bass * Rene van Haaren - drums * Michael Hos - vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Family Portraits * 02 Guardian Angel * 03 Lost * 04 How Much More * 05 Silence Of The Night * 06 The Gift Of Tears * 07 Anat



Dutch band Ulysses have been in operation for approximately ten years. Formed in 1998, the band has seen two prior releases: a 2001 EP 'Eclectic' plus a 2003 album entitled 'Symbioses'. They've also been through some line-up changes, bringing onboard new singer Michael Hos and bassist Casper Kroon. Having given this CD a listen, it doesn't grab me, in the sense that a band like Seventh Wonder does. I mention Ulysses in the same breath as SW because the band are trying to wrap their music around a concept story, but they don't quite have the bullets and ammo to make a mark. Storytelling requires a singer with character, style, power and ability, and though Michael Hos does ok mostly, there is something missing. Though we are short on songs (just seven), the duration of some of them are over extended. The music needs to be totally captive to grab its audience, unfortunately it's not.

The Songs
The album centers around a family tragedy, a young life lost to a brain tumour. Hardly the stuff to excite the listener, and you're left to meander through the musical halls that Ulysses leads you down, to discover what they're all about. If you are prepared to take the journey, then you'll probably be a prog disciple.

Opening up with 'Family Portraits', lyrically this is like a rewind of family memories bought about by the death of the main character in this album drama. Musically though, I didn't think it was particularly strong or compelling. Somehow, it didn't draw you into their story.

'Guardian Angel' is heavy on the symphonic elements and shuffles about with time and tempo changes.

'Lost' is a melancholic piece, understandable as it's about someone who suffers memory loss.. oh dear! If it's any consolation, it does feature some nice synth work mid-song.

Some nice modern synth precedes the 12 minute How Much More', the musical arrangement is pretty cool, and that's where I leave it, as I found the vocals not to my taste.

'Silence Of The Night' is much shorter at a touch under three minutes, featuring just vocals and piano.

'The Gift Of Tears' is much more musically diverse, with heavier guitars and rampaging synths. Sounds great doesn't it? I'll let you be the judge of it as you listen to it.

The near fifteen minute extravaganza 'Anat' is drama filled, contrasts everywhere, spoken word sections, and a mixture of tension, anxiety and despair. I found it to be energy draining - even after one listen! Not surprisingly, this song relates to the young girl who loses her battle for life. Indeed, this song is about life and death.

In Summary
Certifiably embedded in the progressive metal scene, they have a sound which is a bit of a mixed bag, taking their lead from many of the greats without quite having the finesse to stand out from the field. Hard-hat prog heads have accepted the band and given Ulysses fair reviews, while melodic hard rock sites have been less than forgiving in their judgment of this album - including ourselves. 'The Gift Of Tears' is a challenging listen for the readership of this site, those of you used to three to four minute excursions. Anything over six minutes would be a tall order! lol! I have no doubt that Ulysses are thoroughly capable, but I think this concept was just too far out in left field to be anything other than successful.

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