Sieges Even are one of the many often over-looked progressive metal acts from the late 1980s, overshadowed by contemporaries like Queensryche and Fates Warning. With their debut album, despite never truly gaining prominence in the metal community and eventually moving towards a more standard-yet-modernized progressive rock sound in the 90s, they solidified themselves as one of the most technically proficient and talented bands on the planet, taking obvious inspiration from their contemporaries and blending that heavy metal sound with the progressive forefathers of the 1970s in a fashion that many of their contemporaries failed to achieve.
While bands like the aforementioned Queensryche and fellow prog-metallers such as Crimson Glory were certainly progressive and had complex and thoughtful music, they were still primarily heavy metal bands at their core. In a band like Queensryche, however unique they might have been, there was more Judas Priest or Iron Maiden influence to be heard than, say, Genesis, King Crimson, or Rush. And this is what separated Sieges Even from their fellow prog metallers - they wanted to have equal parts progressive rock and
metal, making them more similar to Watchtower, but even more complex and progressive.
The vocals are obviously influenced by Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson, but there is certainly more John Arch or Geddy Lee in Franz Herde's voice than there is a traditional metal one, and at times his voice can even reach a level of manic intensity that is reminiscent of Van Der Graaf Generator's Peter Hammill (if he were in a German metal band, that is). Markus Steffen's guitar skills are, like most 80s metal axemen, top-notch, but he's even more proficient than many of his contemporaries because of the obvious progressive rock influence. Despite the undeniable aggression and heaviness of many of the songs on Life Cycle
, it wouldn't be hard to imagine some of these guitar parts being played by Robert Fripp or Steve Howe if the heaviness and volume were decreased. Despite this, he still manages to combine the trademark twin-guitar attack-vibe of Priest and Maiden (despite being only one man!) and mix it with the prog-rock-meets-hard-rock sound of late 70's Alex Lifeson, all the while combining thrash metal and progressive metal influences in his playing as well. The real standout musician here is bassist Oliver Holzworth, who is constantly audible and sometimes even seemingly dominating the song, and with his style that sounds like Steve Harris, Geddy Lee and Tony Levin rolled into one, he establishes himself as one of the best bassists of the era. With such complex and powerful music, it is hard to see why Sieges Even aren't more often named as an influence by future metal bands. There are many instrumental sections throughout this album which could easily be mistaken for Atheist or Cynic at their most proggy.
Any fan of progressive metal, or technical music in general, should pick this up. It shows the heavy beginnings of a group that would go on to make some of the best progressive music of their era, and if you've ever once wondered why those damn prog metal bands couldn't just sound a little
more proggy than metal, this album should satisfy you.