Review Summary: Disappointing considering the lofty heights reached by the self-titled album. However, it is still entertaining in its own right.
Time Requiem's self-titled debut was a first-rate album that slipped under the radar of many metal fans. Masterfully combining all favorable elements of prog and neo-classical metal, the album was full of energy and, quite simply, a blast to listen to. Unfortunately, the band fell victim to the dreaded sophomore slump. While The Inner Circle of Reality is still a fun listen every now and again, it's overshadowed by the past achievements of the group.
The technicality Richard Andersson is renowned for is still present on this album. Kicking off with the frantic, blistering Reflections
, the album leaves a strong first impression. However, the album's strong start trails off towards the end. Though strong tracks are present, there is also an excess of tracks which never truly develop into something interesting, such as the forgettable Quest of a Million Souls
One of the major draws of the self-titled Time Requiem album was the fusion of typical prog elements, such as complex song structures, with the whimsy of neo-classical compositions. However, the latter is confusingly absent. This leads to the album coming off as uninspired, generic prog. While it is entertaining for the first listen, it holds little drawing power, and is much more disposable than its predecessor. This is not helped by the fact that performances are somewhat weaker than before. While Apollo's voice was booming and commanding on the debut, he seems to falter slightly here, straining to reach notes in some tracks. Unfortunately, this is a noticeable detractor, given how near-perfect the performance was a mere two years prior.
The Inner Circle of Reality, overall, is not bad. Rather, it's merely disappointing. Given the soaring heights reached by the prior release, the follow-up is not able to reach the same peak. While some bright moments appear, they are not frequent nor powerful enough to bolster the album above being a merely okay prog release.
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