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Anthropia

Ereyn Chronicles: Part 1 the Journey of Beginnings

Review by Gary Hill

Magna Carta has always been known as a progressive rock label. Mind you a lot of prog purists have always thought that the bulk of their output had too much metal in it for their tastes. The thing is, they seem to be moving more and more towards the metallic end with this and the Drum Nation 3 collection. I have to admit to a little trepidation. It’s nice to have labels that are devoted to progressive rock and it would perhaps have been wise for them to spin off some sort of subsidiary to do the more metal stuff. That’s just my two cents on that issue.

As to the order of business here, this CD might better fit into heavy metal (granted progressive metal) than prog rock, but I’m including it in the prog section because it kind of falls on the line, and until I see what more they put out I still consider Magna Carta to be a progressive rock label. Make no mistake, prog purists will want no part of this because there is a lot of metal in the music mélange here. That said, they’re really going to be missing out on a killer CD. This may well be one of the strongest discs of the year. It’s just not all that prog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Welcome to Ereyn
Keyboards rise up to start this off, then it moves into a symphonic sort of introduction. Operatic vocals enter and this becomes very dramatic and powerful with a nearly complete opera sort of approach. The first rock music elements of the disc come in a slow pounding sort of chord progression that serves as the backdrop to the later parts of this. The operatic vocals carry forward, but then a whole slew of whispers come in (with different voices) over a driving crunchy prog jam. The cut continues by building on this general musical concept. It segues straight into the next piece of music.
Question of Honour
This one screams out in a metallic prog rock progression that’s frantically fast and furiously powerful. This turns quite metallic as it carries forward. The vocals come in with a reversed echo approach and the cut seems to take on a very King Diamond sort of approach. The progressive rock elements return with the vocal arrangement on the chorus, but when the guitar solo segment takes it the metal is back in full force. They move this through a number of changes and the metal and prog rock elements seem to fight for control. Call it what you will, but rest assured it’s some seriously potent music.
Lords of A World
While there are prog tendencies on this one, it’s even more of a full metal approach. Mind you, the theatric and epic treatment pushes the limits of that genre. Mind you, they pull it more out into progressive rock type changes and movements later, but still the metallic crunch dominates. That said, this screamer is another powerful number. I particularly like the vocal arrangement.
Through the Sleeping Seaweed
Keys start this in tentative, mysterious tones with a bit of a jazz texture to it. Then a burst of metal fury takes it with whispered vocals coming over the top. Eventually these two modes fight for control, but the crunch wins out after a time. This one is progressive rock like in the varying angles and turns that the composition takes, but the treatment is pretty full on heavy metal. That is, until a crescendo at about four and a half minutes in. Then the piece is reborn in a very pretty and delicate balladic pattern. Piano weaves lines of melody over this backdrop in a very beautiful pattern. This ends, then comes back with a dark twist to it for a time. Then the cut explodes out into an epic metallic journey. They eventually pull it around to full metal (a bit like early Metallica) for the final segment.
Forgotten
As is the rule on this disc they pull this one straight out of the track that came before. It is a pretty and powerful acoustic guitar dominated ballad with a bit of a medieval texture to it at times. This one is a nice change of pace. They power it out to a turbo-charged metallic version of itself to carry onward later. At almost nine minutes this one has a lot of changes and varying moods. It’s also one of my favorites on the disc.
Lion-Snake
A bouncing keyboard like sound starts this one off. Then they pound out in more metallic fury to carry onward. This shifts out into a cool jam that’s far more prog oriented. But that doesn’t stay around long. Instead they drop it back to a more stripped down verse segment. Bursts of more complete arrangements come and go and again it’s the vocal arrangement that seems to steal the show. They move this through a lot of varied segments and it’s another powerful track. I particularly like a segment where they drop it back to balladic prog for a female vocal performance.
Where The Secrets Lie
This one feels like Genesis in the introduction, but it twists to more of a neo-classical metallic sound as it moves forward. This twists around to more definite metal territory. They also turn it towards dramatic, mysterious sounding territory for a time. This one does have some of the most pure prog oriented stuff on show here, though in a pretty mellower segment. There are also some soaring keyboards that pull it more fully into that genre. It seems that these guys are all about creating dynamic slabs of epic textures. This one also includes a killer instrumental segment complete with a keyboard solo.
The Walk Among the Ruins
At just a bit over a minute this is by far the shortest cut on show here. It’s a theatrical, mellow ballad sort of piece with just keys, vocals and sound effects. Just when it seems that it will burst into something different it transitions into the next number.
In The Maze of a Nightmare
This screams out with frantic metallic fury, pounding out from the mellow nature of the preceding piece. They move it through a number of epic changes and both the progressive rock and heavy metal tendencies seem to take near equal precedence on this smoking composition. This is one of my favorites as the dramatic textures seem to work extremely well here. It does turn quite metallic at times, but then again they pull it out into expansive prog jams at points, too. They also manage to drop it back to sedate ballad-based segments at times. This one is actually a very diverse showcase that includes more moods than some whole albums – and all in the course of a song that’s around nine and a half minutes. It has some very effective musical and vocal passages and probably represents in one song all the varied styles of this group. I’d have to say that if you are only going to check out one song by Anthropia, this would be the one.
The Desert Of Jewels
At a little over ten minutes this mini-epic is the longest cut on show here. Keyboards begin it and then the band build into a powerful crescendo. This gives way to a beautiful acoustic guitar based ballad section that serves to accompany the first vocals of the piece. Varying layers of voices join as this gradually becomes more lush and evocative. At just before the two-minute mark they stomp out into a metallic grind that’s quite tasty. They build on top of this with sheets of soaring vocals and lines of keyboards bringing added drama to the piece. After they run through like this for a time it drops back to a piano based mellower section. They pump it back up and then begin alternating these modes, making them more complex and bolder with each repeated incarnation. They move this out into a metallic instrumental segment from there. That turns more to the soaring progressive rock zone. It gets exceptionally poignant, but then they drop it back to an almost symphonic movie soundtrack type of element to carry it onward. This then gives way to one of the most pure prog rock journeys of the whole disc. They move this motif through a number of changes and it becomes more metallic at times with a neo-classical texture. They eventually resolve this out into a triumphant sounding prog rock journey that’s exceptionally effective, but still manages to contain some metal. The resolution from there, though, is all prog rock. I have to say that this epic is my favorite track on the album and I can’t picture a better closer than this.
Napster, LLC
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