Review Summary: Featuring performances from Hellhammer, Dan Swano and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Also, the bassist of Ulver.
Awaking in a perfect place
To the nice smell of roses
It seems to me that progressive metal (or any progressive act for that matter) has trouble staying coherent and understandable. Many progressive bands I have stumbled across are literally falling apart, unable to maintain any sort of structure. The choruses are actually minutes apart, placed on either end of sprawling verses that have no relevance or consistency whatsoever. With this kind of formula, massive ten to twelve minute songs dominate the track listing, and although they may seem enjoyable the first time through, they have very little replay value because they simply become too boring.
Many progressive acts also are unable to write understandable lyrics which mark their work as taboo for anyone that enjoys singing along to their music. This is quite obviously the case with bands like The Mars Volta, whose lyrics have been described as "tripe" by our very own John Hanson. Although lyrics aren't very relevant in metal these days, they are of the utmost importance in lighter shades of music. Winds may be a "metal" band, but the vocal performance is more than ninety percent singing and complete lyrical retardation isn't going to fly with everyone. Fortunately Winds, doesn't write lyrical retardation.
Befallen through the will of my savior's grace//my undying hope through life's progression//The one to show me a way in this forsaken place//to cleanse the madness of my transgression//
Aside from having excellent lyrical concepts, the vocal delivery of Prominence and Demise is spectacular. The vocals of Lars Si are somewhat dry and depressing and the listener may find them unappealing at first, but after a few listens they become much more enjoyable. Also, Prominence and Demise features several performances by session vocalist Agnete Kirkevaag. Her vocals are just as bleak and depressive as that of Lars, but the inclusion of dual vocals makes the album much more enjoyable and interesting. Not to mention, there are few guest performances from the legendary Dan Swano. Although I am not a fan of Swano’s work I understand this will be greatly appreciated by my peers.
Musically, Prominence and Demise is a quite a mixed breed. The actually music is very similar to the efforts of Arcturus (which is understandable considering the guitarist was originally from Arcturus), giving off an avant-garde feel while maintaining a hugely epic feel. The songs are quite long, a few being over eight minutes, but I have listened to the album about five or six times, and none of them drag or become even the slightest bit tired.
The guitar receives the vast majority of attention during the instrumental portions of the album. Solos are frequent and consistent, often emulating the neoclassical blitzkrieg-shred style of Necrophagist front man Muhammad Suicmez. The drums are also quite above average as they are handled by master session musican Hellhammer. This is does not necessarily mean that the drums are excessively fast, they are in fact quite standard in speed, but they give off a powerful feel that plods along with the crunching guitar verses without interrupting the flow.
Aside from the standard instruments, Prominence and Demise also relies on several more classical instruments to bring their music to life. Pianist and lyricist Andy Winter is a full time member and unlike most pianists, his work is not over-shadowed by overbearing guitar riffs. Throughout the album, his piano melodies are very clear and audible, providing the songs with a very relaxing feeling that allows the minutes to just slide right by. In addition to piano, Prominence and Demise also features an entire strings company including two violins, a cello and a viola. The quartet emphasizes a great deal on the tragically epic emotions of the album.
In essence, Prominence and Demise is an excellent progressive avant-garde album for those that enjoy the works of Opeth, Arcturus or even non metal fans looking to immerse themselves in the genre.
Awaking in a perfect place
To the nice smell of death