There is one thing that must be taken into account when listening to Andromeda. They sound one hell of a lot like Dream Theater. Seriously, the comparisons are almost innumerable. The band members all seem to be prodigiously talented, like Dream Theater. Their singer, while he can definitely sing, is pretty uninspired, like Dream Theater. And finally, they always seem to fall into the trap of going into wanky, show boating instrumental sections, but not exactly similar to Dream Theater. The thing with Dream Theater is that they’re just boring when they get into that mode, which is quite frequent. While Andromeda can get caught up with this too, they seem to be more occupied with writing enjoyable songs than showing off how well they can play, and that is the crucial difference.
Johan Reinholdz is a great guitarist. There is no denying it. He pulls some great solos out of his hat on this record, as well as some pretty cool riffs, but he is predominantly a solo performer. It is quite surprising that these guys aren’t famous, because usually in metal circles, guitarists that can shred are held in high esteem (Cross ref: Dimebag). Johan can shred, and he can shred well, but he’s not restricted to it. All the solos on this record are fast and technical, but he’s not cramming in as many notes as possible in the smallest space of time, which I know is a turn off for most people.
If you want to hear the rest of the band’s technicality and skill, you only have to listen to Chameleon Carneval
. It’s the only instrumental track on the album and the only one where they all just hit Dream Theater mode. Of course, the main focus is on the guitar and the keyboard. The other instruments aren’t as noteworthy unfortunately. Thomas Lejon is a good drummer, with some interesting patterns and the odd interesting section, but he’s far too low in the mix to be truly great. On the single solitary drum solo on the whole record on Chameleon Carneval
, all the hits just bleed together, which is a shame because it sounds like it could have been great if the producers appreciated it more. Similarly, the bass is almost inaudible throughout the entire record but what you do hear is good playing with nice lines, but you really have to listen for them.
Unfortunately, as with Dream Theater, the vocalist is the weakest link. I was struck on my first listen on just how similar this guy is to James LaBrie. They’ve got the same tone, the same weaknesses and seemingly the same strengths. Lawrence Mackrory can definitely sing well, as he proves towards the end of Crescendo Of Thoughts
and In The Deepest Of Waters
. It’s frustrating listening to someone with talent when they’re not using it. His vocals just sound highly unnecessary and tacked on, which isn’t very surprising considering he was just a session singer and not a fulltime member of the band. This laziness also shows through with the lyrical content. Take this sample from the title track: This is the written word / This is who I am / This is the extension of the wish; Conviction will blossom / As failure laughs in my face
. Some people out there may think that’s poetry, but I wouldn’t agree; they’re clichéd and meaningless.
Another criticism is the manner in which all these songs bleed into each other. They are all so similar in structure and content that it’s hard to distinguish each song. While this may work on some records, such as Between The Buried And Me’s Colors
, it fails on this album.
So for a general synopsis, this album goes like this: Good guitar, potentially good drumming, lacklustre singing and very similar song structures. If guitar virtuosos float your boat then you would probably enjoy this for the most part but otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend buying this album unless you’re really keen on the band.