Review Summary: Even through slight familiarity for the legendary metal vocalist, A Moment in Chiros is a perfect summation of an illustrious career of immense musical integrity.
As the owner of progressive/power metal record label Nightmare Records and former vocalist of underground classic bands such as Balance of Power
, Lance King’s pedigree, experience and success in the metal scene far exceed what many metal musicians will ever hope to attain, or even dream of. It was not until 2011, however, that he attempted to create an Ayreon
-style solo album, with himself as the singer-lyricist (the only singer, unlike Mr. Lucassen’s projects) and many of his labelmates, business associates and musical contemporaries lending instrumental talents. The result of this collective effort is an hour of progressive, heavy power metal with extensive, thought-provoking lyrical depth, written, recorded, and produced in mere weeks. If this task sounds too incredible to be attained, it usually is, and King’s only slightly imperfect attempt is the only flaw worth mentioning, but the vast majority of A Moment in Chiros
is a top-shelf example of its genre and a perfect introduction to the legendary singer’s career.
The biggest pitfall of solo projects is becoming a one-person performance at the expense of the individual musicians involved, and while this grants A Moment in Chiros
high marks in the coherence front, it also feels slightly more homogeneous than expected from a combination of progressive, power and heavy metal musicians. Anubis Gate
guitarist Kim Olesen holds the most instrumental credit, playing guitar, bass and keyboards across the album and something on every track, plus writing the music on track 5 and jointly on track 6, and a significant degree of the music is sonically similar to the Danish melodic prog metal group. The ethereal piano intro to Infinity Divine
, though actually written by Harmony
mastermind Markus Sigfridsson, sounds almost like the introduction of Anubis Gate’s self-titled CD; also like the Danes, the songs are built off chunky, chugging riffs and rollicking, dramatic chords, but King’s approach is slightly heavier and less progressive. The disadvantage of such methods is that most of the metal parts sound similar to everyone else’s, somewhat decreasing the potential for diversity this album could have had; wisely, he works at otherwise differentiating the compositions to minimize this problem, adding ambient, classical and various ethnic influences throughout the album’s duration. The dreamy title track numbers at 7:33, progressing from an exotic acoustic/spoken word introduction into misty keyboards, a dark riff sequence, the most noticeable and distinct bass work on the album, and an immediately attractive, memorable chorus line; the prominent orchestral flavor of Infinity Divine
(with violins performed by the young Tomy King, an occasional performer alongside his father) and island percussion accompaniment to the syncopated verses of Sacred Systems
are intelligently handled, assist the songwriting, and sustain the album until its finish.
A Moment in Chiros
can be an aural adventure indeed, but also vital to unlocking its secrets is the lyrics booklet. King underwent comprehensive research before writing the album, with his principal interest the 11:11 time phenomenon; its gist is that many observers around the world noticed unusually frequent occurrences of this time when off-handedly viewing clocks, cultivating beliefs that the number has a spiritual meaning or is a signal from unseen supernatural forces of their presence, an upcoming major event on 11/11/11 11:11:11 or various reductions, or a clue in a greater puzzle. The album was initially intended to be released on that date (but came out four days earlier instead), and I appropriately listened front to back on 11/11/11. Numbers, such as three and eight, are one of the many running conceptual themes, including philosophy, politics and world issues, corruption, discovery of the soul, and the occasional drop into personal Christianity. Of special note is the title track, about the timeless dimension called “Kairos Time” in which God is held to operate, allowing for perfect timing in any circumstances. Mr. King is renowned for his stunning adaptability to many different musical adaptations and 4.5-octave range; the dominant key of A Moment in Chiros
is low B, allowing for more exploration of lower registers. The overall result is a well-rounded vocal performance that does the lyrical material justice.
The ominous, blistering Dance of Power
criticizes the power structure and deception of the U.S. government, where King’s more incendiary metal vocals and acerbic delivery of lines like “Ethics are hard to find in Washington’s deaf, dumb and blind”
join with high-range wails in a rally for change. Equally heavy is A Given Choice
, combining aggression with mysterious symphonic melodies as the album’s narrator realizes he cannot run away from his destiny; the concise, punchy drumming of Morten Gade Sørensen (also of Pyramaze) fills out the song with a double bass groove. On the lighter end, Kibou
is a piano ballad dedicated to the 2011 disasters in Japan, carrying an inspiring statement of hope and how it is always brought out of great tragedy; this is an unusual environment for the prolific singer, but he handles it equally adeptly. Towards the end of the album, the varied styles meld to create overall more progressive and stronger musical statements: Sacred Systems
is written by eclectic composer/guitarist Michael Harris (Darkology
, Thought Chamber
), and its exotic flavor ranges from the spacey introduction to a beguiling arabesque main theme, ethnic percussion and an epic unison interlude of bass, acoustic guitars and echoing bells. The first half of the album is more typical of slightly progressive power metal and comes closer to the ordinary; Awakening
has some excellent ideas, including the riff interlude at 3:09 and the tale of searching for an afterlife in the wake of tragedy, and is rock-solid overall, but better things are yet to come.
Perhaps, though, this progression into more sophisticated, experimental territories is a statement about the journey of A Moment in Chiros
: from doubt to certainty, from apprehension to honest expression, and from delusion to perfect faith. Its musical and lyrical execution, passion and professionalism betray the immense integrity of its leader, and in closing, I shall testify to this. I have been in contact with Lance for months before the release of this album, and he has been one of the most knowledgeable, gracious and trustworthy figures in the metal scene, with an extensive library of metal albums. Additionally, he is willing to stand up for what he believes in; proceeds from each sale of A Moment in Chiros
will be donated to anti-human trafficking organization Not For Sale
. I have ordered many CDs from Nightmare Records, and several of them (special shout-out to Utah prog metal band Hourglass
) have played an integral role in rescuing my life and faith in God from a dead end. The concept of “Kairos Time” on this CD has been a lesson on patience and waiting for that perfect moment when my actions will have the greatest impact on the world. King’s arrival in my life did that for me, and recent events have convinced me it was always meant to happen. Do not let A Moment in Chiros
pass your ears unnoticed, because the same could be true for you.
"An awakening has come, your destiny reborn.
It's time to make a choice, power your true voice.
The hope that has drawn near, infinity you hear..."