10/13/2006 - Review by: Etiam
Time Requiem - Optical Illusion - 2006 - Regain Records
One wouldn’t suspect it, though, as ‘Optical Illusion’, the group’s newest, features an entirely new line-up (aside from Andersson, obviously) than the one before it. This generally occurs with bands like Death, which was essentially a vehicle for Chuck’s talent while the other members were little more than supplements (arguably). Time Requiem, though, is not used as an exclusive platform for Andersson to show off his skills, and while his keyboards are prominently featured, they are not the sole driving factor of the album. Göran Edman is the new vocalist for the group, and his voice falls somewhere between Russell Allen and Ray Alder, though not quite as timeless as either, and his melodies here are memorable and fitting for the style. Space Odyssey veteran Magnus Nilsson plays guitar here and maintains excellent poise while keeping up with Andersson’s racing fingers, no mean feat by any standards.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of progressive metal is achieving a balance between the peculiar time signatures, looping arpeggios, and other technical quirks that define the style itself and actually writing cohesive songs that people will want to listen to. With ‘Optical Illusion’, Time Requiem have struck that balance. Richard Andersson’s truly remarkable performance here would be irrelevant and frankly unimpressive if it were not part of an equally remarkable, tangible basis in emotion that allows and invites the audience to appreciate the material on a personal level instead of simply a critical one.
Space Odyssey and Time Requiem are fairly similar groups, both falling under the category of prog/power metal, but their styles are different enough that the creation of two separate groups is merited. Time Requiem is the more structurally progressive of the two and its general mood would be at times more appropriate for throwback prog rock than the power metal of today. The blatantly 80’s rocker ‘Miracle Man’, for example, or the piano chords backing the solo on the title track. Other tracks are not quite so heavy-handed in that respect, but a vintage mood is indeed prevalent throughout, giving the album a strange familiarity from the first listen.
These aforementioned 80’s influences are really the only overbearing parts of ‘Optical Illusion’, and not the progressive noodling that one might suspect. ‘Miracle Man’ is a change of pace, and therefore cannot be faulted too much, but its presence is simply unnecessary. The melodramatic soul-searching in ‘Ocean Wings’, too, is a dead weight. Perhaps not for a live show, somewhere in time where the mullet and spandex ballad lives on, but not today. Still, these are but temporary hiccups, and the rest of ‘Optical Illusion’ evokes Angra, Pagan’s Mind, or Stratovarius rather than B-side Van Halen.
Richard Andersson may still be a name unknown to the average metal fan, but if albums like ‘Optical Illusion’ continue to dance from his fingers and mind, he will soon be mentioned alongside (if not above) countryman Jens Johansson as the best in the business.
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