Artension - 2003 New Discovery

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ARTIST: Artension
ALBUM: New Discovery
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 141
YEAR: 2003

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: John West - vocals * Vitalij Kuprij - keyboards * Kevin Chown - bass * Mike Terrana - drums * Roger Staffelbach - guitars

TRACK LISTING: New Discovery * 02 Remember My Name * 03 Innocence Lost * 04 The Last Survivor * 05 Hearts Are Broken * 06 Symphonic Expedition * 07 Endless Days * 08 Call Of The Wild * 09 Story Teller * 10 Endless Days (radio edit)

Background

I'm guilty as charged your honour. This may indeed be Artension's sixth album, but they are a new discovery to me. I figured a band featuring Kevin Chown of Tiles fame and Royal Hunt vocalist John West (not to be confused with the UK's purveyor of quality fish produce) weren't exactly going to be AOR.

Looking at the sleeve artwork, I got a pre-conceived idea that the music would have a Scandinavian flavour. I don't think I was too far wrong.

Many articles on the internet credit the band as a progressive metal act, but their music owes more the the huge metallic drive of Yngwie J Malmsteen and his ilk than it does to Dream Theater or Threshold. I think that probably has much to do with Vitalij's previous involvement with the Mark Boals project Ring of Fire and Mike's dalliances with Axel Rudi Pell.

A majority of the material on this album sounds a little tired, not so much in that it treads a very familiar musical path, but more to with the rather poor production qualities. With the album sounding like a good quality demo, the material rarely gets the chance to shine properly.

The drums sound lifeless and the guitars lack the clarity they deserve. On the plus side, Vitalij's keys are quite prominent in the mix and they remain the dominant force for the most part.

The Songs

A lot of the material is played very quickly and has that neo-classical bent, which, I'm afraid, unless it's Ritchie Blackmore at the fretboard, does nothing for me. It's only during the mid-paced numbers I get a better sense of Artension and the band they could be.

'Call Of The Wild' is a Deep Purple(circa Stormbringer) rocker, where West gets to pay homage to Glenn Hughes with his big vocal style.

'Hearts Are Broken' has a similar feel, which wouldn't have been too far out of place on the first Takara album. It's the ballad, 'Endless Days', where the band sound at their best, as they're holding back a little. One of this album's biggest faults for me is that the music is 'overplayed' and sometimes, less can be more, as this track proves.

In Summary

Overall, another rather average slab of melodic rock. However, 2002 saw a couple of corkers released from the Now & Then/Frontiers stable, so there's still plenty of hope for melodic rock yet.


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