Review Summary: A taste of Germany's finest
Sieges Even is a band that has stayed in obscurity for a considerably long time. Formed in Germany during the early 80’s, under the affection of prog metal giants like Fates Warning, Queensryche and the supersonic heroes Watchtower, Sieges Even entered the new decade of 90’s with the very promising Steps
, an album that showed a technically flawless band striving to shape their sound. A year later, the band introduced us to what many call their masterpiece, A sense of Change
. We are one year away from Images and words
, and as the album’s name subtly proclaims a change is about to happen.
The so-called progressive rock could have easily been declared long dead, but for the sake of each newfound metalhead who delightfully ***s his pants by listening odd time signatures in an extra heavy Gojira song, or proudly states that he joyfully listens to Meshuggah as a breakfast background, bands like Sieges Even paved the way for technicality to be acknowledged in the way it is today. The fact that bands started to face it not like a mean to an end , but an end itself, is another long story which happens to concern musicians and critics alike. Siegen Even directly stand on this thin line. They seem to have things to tell, and also have the way of telling them, but somewhere along the way they happen to miss that train.
Excellently performed, and adequately produced, A Sense of Change
is a great progressive album with many redeeming features. We are introduced to a furious yet delicate musical experience right from the slightly spacey "Prelude: Ode to Sisyphus". Melodies and smart riffing keep swirling with a labyrinthine sense, engrafted with soulful solos, which are usually strategically placed. The rhythm section consisting of the Holzwarth brothers is truly solid and stands as the bands biggest advantage. Detailed, clear and well produced, the drum and bass sound successfully sets the scene for the equally splendid guitar work. Truly well executed and at times even great, usually when the acoustic guitar lines come up, adding to the whole sound. All of these can be heard in the epic "Dimensions”, a song which summarizes the album pretty well. Jorgi Kaiser’s voice is deeply expressive, and his accent is a bit strange, however his performance is way above average. The lyrics are also interesting enough, dealing with several questions and philosophical problems (Jorgi used to study philosophy).They are simply written, with no exaggerated sophistication, and straightforwardly deliver the wanted meaning or engrossment. A honorable mention, the delicate “Change of Seasons”, is a classical piece, mostly written by Steffen, with great guitar and violin arrangements, shrouded by a vision of innocence and hope.
However, even with all these virtues, A Sense of Change
somehow fails to be a classic album, with the same way Fates Warning failed with Perfect Symmetry
. The album has a truly cold feeling that can be sensed from a first time listener to the most trained ear. The flawlessly executed pieces, seem incapable of delivering those emotions that otherwise simpler song structures could deliver. The turgid passages are common here, but they usually don’t climax in a way the listener would cherish the songs. The production is heavily shorn, letting the 3 main instruments to form a quite frigid atmosphere. This approach leaves otherwise great melodies to “die” quite quickly, while in the first place it seems impossible to find a memorable riff here. All in all, although the impressing songwriting, it’s difficult to relate to the music, because the album neither conjures up emotion , nor focuses on strong melodies. Great moments seem sacrificed and the album’s lacking the power a metal act should have.
Taking everything into an account, A Sense of Change
, despite it’s cold nature, still manages to be one of the best progressive albums of the 90’s.Its’ musical superiority in terms of complexity is remarkable while the band’s playing seems extremely solid and well worked.
“Tenacity and acumen are privileged spectators of this inhuman show, in which absurdity, hope and death carry on their dialogue”
A quote by Albert Camus in the booklet of the album, ironically enough portrays the very essence of their work: Sieges Even, created a wonderful piece of art with rare tenacity, able to stand against time. Having the acumen to recognize the Sisyphean road laid ahead of them, their stance shows integrity and modesty with the most sincere way. All this time hiding in the shadows , they deserve to take a step back and admire what they’ve accomplished.