The Astral Episode
Richard Andersson's Space Odyssey - The Astral Episode - 2005 - Candlelight Records
|Track Listing1. Through Dream and Reality|
2. Astral Episode
3. Lord of the Winds
4. Dazzle the Devil
5. Back to the Dark
6. Presence of Mind
8. The Seventh Star Fantasy
Richard Andersson, the renowned keyboard player best known for his work with Adagio and Symphony X, has put forth his second solo album with his band Space Odyssey. “The Astral Episode” features appearances by vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson of Wuthering Heights, as well as Magnus Nilsson on guitars and bass and Andreas Brobjer on drums. Like the other bands he’s worked with in the past, Andersson’s style with Space Odyssey is a neo-classically tinged version of progressive power metal. While Andersson and company are all quite competent at making this sort of music, “The Astral Episode” comes off as sounding a bit less than spectacular when compared with other bands in the genre.
Similar to bands such a Royal Hunt and even Raintime, most of Space Odyssey’s songs are completely keyboard-driven. While the aforementioned bands do a brilliant job with this approach, Andersson’s synthetic-led, neo-classically inspired melodies wear a bit thin after a while. They’re skillfully done, but the most important element, excitement, is lacking. I have the same issues with much of Ywngie Malmsteen’s work as well – the music is technically brilliant but fairly unemotional. Even Johansson, who has an amazing voice, fails to add the extra ounce of feeling ala Jorn Lande style that often separates a good song from a great one. And that’s exactly what Andersson and company have accomplished with “The Astral Episode” – eight good songs, but none of them great.
“The Astral Episode” isn’t a bad album by any means, but with groups like Royal Hunt, Symphony X, and to an extent even Masterplan playing this style in a more engaging, exciting, and energetic manner, it doesn’t come with an enormous recommendation either. Richard Andersson is a highly skilled musician, and everyone else on the record does their job fairly well, so for prog-power or neo-classical junkies, this album may be one more addition to a vast catalogue of similar music. I think the seven out of ten I’m going to give this album is exactly what it deserves – it’s well-crafted but lacks greatness.