Review Summary: Though less heralded than Dream Theater, Queensryche, or Fates Warning, Redemption delivers a progressive metal classic.
Two decidedly different strains of progressive metal exist, rarely crossing over, rarely blending together. There are those bands that play up the progressive side of their identity, metal in name only, while others amplify the heaviness of their music, forgetting to craft melodies and songs to go around their instrumental aggression. Even the stalwarts of the genre fall into the trap, forced to choose between the two sides of the same coin. When any band manages to bridge the gap, to find the middle ground that allows them to be everything at once, it is almost a miracle of music.
Redemption is one of the few bands that strike the right chord, an unapologetic melodic prog band with the heft to keep anyone from questioning their metal roots. The work of guitarist and songwriting Nick Van Dyk, The Origins Of Ruin is the purest example of progressive metal to ever be released. Blending six and seven string riffing with soaring melodies and the mournful voice of Fates Warning vocalist Ray Adler, the album follows the unwritten blueprint of what progressive metal should be.
All is made clear in the six and a half minutes of "The Suffocating Silence", bursting out of the gate with a downtuned riff more reminiscent of Scandinavian death metal than traditional prog, torn open when Adler begins to sing. His voice is an acquired taste, a technically lacking but emotion-drenched instrument that only adds to the dark atmosphere the album sets out. Heavy guitars clash with a sweeping chorus, the instrumental section giving both Van Dyk and Bernie Versailles a chance to dazzle with their skills. That the song is able to combine these elements to form a good song is difficult enough, the fact that the opener eases you into what else is left to unfold is a marvel.
"Bleed Me Dry" proves that Redemption has much more to offer, the bass intro giving way to a weary guitar harmony, the song switching to thrash until the chorus kicks in, an epic statement that stops the song dead in its tracks in the best possible way. Adler sounds tortured deliving the line "twist the blade inside of me and bleed me dry", his plaintive tone a harrowing listen. Emotions run high throughout the album, whether it be the piano and voice of the short title track, or the longing of the two epics, "Memory" and "Fall On You".
The former is the centerpiece of the album, not only the best song Redemption has written, but one of the best songs to come from any progressive metal band. The pulsing guitars toss off galloping riffs as though they are nothing, the dissonance just upsetting enough to create the unease Adler needs for his vocal to succeed. Telling a story of loss and longing, Adler gives everything he has, erupting as the chorus lifts off, his voice rising high above the music. "I don't want the ignorance that a spotless mind would bring. but I'm scared my dying breath may be your name," he sings, his voice sounding every bit as tortured as the lyric demands. The song is a dazzling statement, a masterful composition that has shamefully slipped through the cracks and remained hidden from too many listeners.
The remainder of the album cannot reach the height "Memory" sets for the album, but it never falters. "Man Of Glass" and "Blind My Eyes" deliver superb melodies, while "Fall On You" closes the album on a more progressive bent, running the band through nine minutes of introspection and expression. As the last notes die out, the experience has been exhausting, in a positive way. The album contains more than can be processed at once, the songs needed repeated plays to reveal their secrets, for the songs to find the lived in feeling that will make everything clear.
"And soul as compass I will pray you find your way, and that happiness will follow close behind, and peace will fall on you." So ends the album, and so is the truth. The Origins Of Ruin is the sound of a band that found its way, one that could do no wrong. Happiness would follow in the tone of Redemption's next album, but it's more exiting to see it building on the horizon, where The Origins Of Ruin is firmly planted.