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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Khallice

The Journey

Review by Gary Hill

Brazilian group Khallice have put out a disc that is nearly a masterpiece with The Journey. Most of the time it walks the fine line between heavy metal and progressive rock. While it drops off either side for segments throughout the disc, I'd say that they fall just over into the metal side – but barely. No matter what you call it, though, the music on The Journey is simply spectacular. These guys rock out hard, but also create emotional moments. They fill their music with frantic changes and left turns from no where, but always make it work. The comparisons to Dream Theater are obvious (particularly on the vocals), but you might also hear King Crimson, Queensryche, Deep Purple and even Genesis at times here. The truth is, if you are a fan of prog metal (or metallic prog for that matter) this is one journey you just can't miss.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Loneliness
After some ambient sounds, an extremely heavy mode leads this off in fine fashion. They work through in this metallic format, with layers of keys lending progressive tendencies to the mix. This extended introduction, with a few changes and shifts (including a segment that reminds me of both Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix) makes up the first minute and a half of the cut. It then moves into a fast paced progression that feels like Dream Theater. When they drop to more stripped down textures for the verse those DT sounds are still firmly in place. An break includes both a reprise of some of the earlier sounds and some challenging new motifs. They drop it back even further for the next verse, one that sounds even more like Portnoy, Petrucci and company. The vocals sound particularly like James LaBrie's here and eventually soar out in stellar fashion. It turns more metallic later and purely smokes. This almost resembles some kind of death metal (minus the vocals) at times, but then a retro keyboard sound brings in more of the Deep Purple elements. This moves out from there into another scorching neo-prog movement, bringing the DT comparisons back with it. It moves through a series of cool changes and reworkings before finally taking it back to a short revisit of the verse and chorus structure to end.
I've Lost My Faith
Fast paced and powerful, this continues with the DT-like sounds, but this time it's infused with more pure metal textures. Still, the keyboards lend a retro sound, but this time around they are weaving frantic lines of sound over the top. Full of quirky changes and timings, this is all metal, but still intriguing enough to pull in progressive rock fans. The vocals, as on most of the disc, really do make one think of LaBrie. Interestingly enough, they drop it back to an almost balladic motif later, then pull it out into a classic rock song that combines Deep Purple with Dream Theater. It has an amazingly retro tinged keyboard sound through this segment. This scorcher may be less pure prog than the opener, but it's no less potent. It has some exceptionally tasty riffs and will keep you on your toes with all the changes. It's another winner.
Spiritual Jewel
Sensing that we need a break after the ferocity of the last cut, this starts in a sedate keyboard based ballad style. They create a very emotional and powerful mode in this style. It feels rather melancholy, but also very pretty. It powers up around the one minute mark, but still doesn't rise to the metallic territory of the last couple songs. While maintaining the musical structures and textures that began it, a screaming metallic guitar swirls overhead for a while later. Then they scream out into a new progression that is very much in the vein of DT again. They modulate this with more of the ballad structures, albeit turbocharged with more layers of keys and emotion. Then it soars outward into the most metal-based sections of the track. The riffing that lays the backdrop for this is incredible. These guys just don't let up on the barrage of killer tunes. With another series of powerhouse changes and textures, one might think that the ballad mode is completely gone by this point. They surprise us by dropping back into that theme for a time before powering back out into another screaming metal stomper. What a ride this is! It's far more dynamic than the preceding tracks and feels like a roller coaster with its ups and downs and rapid-fire turns.
Wrong Words
Coming in with almost an '80's pop metal sound, keyboards bring more progressive rock sounds to the table. Then they launch out into a killer little section that calls to mind both Dream Theater and King Crimson. This gives way to another series of changes, the song proper showing up as something combining modern progressive metal with that more accessible '80's sound. With breaks off into more Crimson-like movements and others that feel more like Dream Theater, this is another dynamic and powerful piece of modern prog metal. It never really falls fully into either section (progressive rock or metal) instead pulling elements of both together to create its sound. The closest it comes to pure metal is in a dark and pounding section mid-song, but this is followed by some of the most purely prog rock moments of the tune.
Thunderstorm
The sounds of a storm (appropriately) lead us off here. More gentle, but still dark and powerful, sounds come up from there. This shifts out to more pure metal from there for a time. As is the case with the whole album, numerous changes occur throughout the track. While the Dream Theater influence is present throughout it isn't overpowering and there are modes which only vaguely show it. You might also hear some Rainbow on this musical journey. This is one of my favorites.
Vampire
The opening modes here represent quite a change feeling almost like a cross between progressive rock and techno. Bounding through numerous changes they create varying waves of sound bringing the metal back for most of these alterations. The Dream Theater leanings are probably less obvious here, coming mostly in terms of the vocals. Still, some of the musical sections might seem more along those lines. This one has some neo-classical power metal elements, too. I hear more of that '80's metal textures on at least one riff here. While it's a good track, it just doesn't knock me out the way a lot of the rest of the disc, does.
Turn The Page
A dramatic, echoey ballad-like sound leads this off. They gradually build up on this, turning it just a little funky. Then it drops back for the vocals. It powers out into a smoking metallic romp later. They move it out later into another of the most pure prog movements of the disc. The Dream Theater leanings come back with that section and carry on from there. We get a return to the same type of form that pervades the rest of the disc later in the track, but then it shifts out to a full on thrash metal grind. Keys come over this and that, combined with the LaBrie like vocals, are the only prog type sounds in this section. This is another killer.
Prophecy
A staccato progressive rock segment leads this one off and serves as the starting point for the band's next series of break neck shifts and turns. After this extended introduction, though, they drop it out into a more full prog (albeit rather stripped down) approach for the first vocals. Then they turn in something that feels a bit like Genesis for a segue into another mellower movement that calls to mind DT. They move through a number of cool twists and variations throughout, but this cut remains the most purely progressive rock oriented of anything on the CD. Yes, the guitar gets crunchy at times, but this one is more melodic and would probably be the first place prog rock fans should stop here.
The Journey
In a sharp contrast, pretty keys begin this in atmospheric and beautiful ways. They build on this theme with something that reminds me of Mike Oldfield for a time before launching into another pure progressive rock motif. From here, though, it shifts out into more pure metal (tinged with an '80's true steel sound). When they move out into the verse Dream Theater is on the menu again. This one doesn't have as many of the frantic changes as some of the other pieces, but there is enough variation to keep it interesting. I wouldn't say it's a highlight of the disc, but it's also not weak.
Stuck-Bonus Track
Starting quite purely metallic, they eventually drop this back to a ballad like structure that reminds me of Queensryche and Fates Warning. This has breaks that bring in the Dream Theater sound, but overall it falls more purely into the metal camp. They do move this out into fusion-like territory at times. This is actually a killer track and it's amazing that it's considered a bonus. It is definitely amongst my choices for favorite. It's a great way to end the festivities on a high note.
 
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