It’s a safe bet some will label this disc as heavy metal, but that’s only part of the picture. Behind the Veil of Oblivion showcases a sound with a lot of metal (particularly in the first couple tunes) but really fits well into a progressive rock heading. It’s a disc that shows a lot of talent and diversity.
Frantic technical metal opens the album on the introduction to “Change of Ages.” It drops to a more stripped back arrangement that sits pretty well in progressive metal. Still, as it gets a more energized revision for the next segment, it gains some more prog elements and resembles Dream Theater a bit. There’s a catchy vocal hook on that movement, too. The guitar solo is old school metal and very cool. This is quite a dynamic and diverse cut and there’s another smoking hot technical metal section that ends it.
At almost ten-minutes in length, “Behind the Veil of Oblivion” is the longest number on the set. There’s a short introduction segment that feels a bit like the start of Rush’s “Xanadu.” It works out to a jazz meets pop and progressive rock treatment from there, though. That holds the cut for a while, but then around the two-minute mark it gives way to a chugging riff that’s more metallic. As the keyboards lace the top, though, it’s closer to something from Deep Purple or Dream Theater. The keyboard solo later really reinforces that Deep Purple thing and the guitar solo that comes after is almost Blackmore-like. Still, this eventually gives way to a rock treatment of klezmer-like music. Then it drops back to atmospheric textures to continue. Around the seven minute mark, though, it fires out into technical metal a bit like Helloween with more epic elements in place.
While heavy crunchy guitars are heard on the introduction to “Timeline,” that is modulated with quite symphonic keyboard elements. When it shifts to something like proggy world music, the shift towards progressive rock seems complete. Still, movement that features the vocals is energized and has some serious metal sound to it. Yet, there is enough jazz and prog in the mix to keep it from truly fitting in the “heavy metal” category. The cut isn’t overly long, nor is it very dynamic beyond that point. However, it is a great blend of heavy metal and progressive rock in an accessible and effective song.
The first vocal movement of “Listen” comes atop a melodic, nearly ballad-like structure that feels a bit like the prog era of Rush. From there, though, it works out to a harder rocking sound that’s about equal parts modern progressive rock jazz. As it builds out for the chorus the jazz becomes less crucial to the mix. Still, the verses continue in that same jazzy progressive rock format. There’s a great progressive rock instrumental section later that runs out includes some Blackmore-like guitar soloing.
“Secrets” powers in as a high energy progressive rock jam. The guitar soloing during the introduction feels a bit like Joe Satriani or another such guitar hero. The intro is over a minute long and features plenty of proggy jamming. It drops down to a more stripped back arrangement for the verse. That movement has jazz and hard rock tendencies. An instrumental segment later calls to mind Kansas a bit.
“The Way Out” starts with a ballad approach that feels familiar. When the vocals join it feels a bit like something from Dream Theater merged with Queensryche’s more progressive rock oriented moments. Then, a little before the minute and a half mark, a crunch guitar joins. Rather than bring it into metal territory, though, it seems closer to Dream Theater. The vocal arrangement from that point is among the strongest on the disc. In fact, this might be the standout track of the set. There is a killer instrumental segment later in the piece that brings some world music melodies to the table, but delivered with progressive rock energy and instrumentation. It wanders into some spacey weirdness from there. After it grows back into the song proper for some more vocals, they launch into a section features some great fusion-oriented melodic guitar soloing.
“Can’t Feel” is the closing cut and it does a great job of combining the combination of metal and progressive rock in a dramatic, but also very accessible package. Still, even with the more straightforward approach, they manage to include a melodic rock guitar solo and an intriguing vocal movement. This gets more jazzy and has a ballad-like closing segment.
There is so much variety on this album, yet it somehow feels cohesive and gels. It is a disc that shows a lot of promise and should entertain both fans of adventurous heavy metal and those who like metallic progressive rock.
Review by G. W. Hill
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)