01. Reflections
02. The inner Circle of Reality
03. Dreams of Tomorrow
04. Attar of Roses
05. Definition of Insanity
06. Quest of a million Souls
07. Hidden Memories
08. Bach Prelude Variations (J.S. Bach)
09. Voulez Vous (ABBA) Japan bonus track
APOLLO - Vocals
ZOLTAN - Drums

TIME REQUIEM : "The inner Circle of Reality"   anderssonmusic        

review  by Marco "Norman Knight" Signore____   

Just like Artension are the birth of a keyboard master like Vitalij Kuprij, Time Requiem are the creation of a true master of keyboards, the Swedish Richard Andersson, a very gifted musician and arranger. With the help of Zoltan Csörsz on drums, Magnus Nord on guitars, Jonas Reingold on bass, and Apollo Papathanasio on vocals, Andersson made this good line up that produced two studio album and a live in Japan. And this new album, titled “Inner Circle of Reality” is their latest work. Too bad that the ghost of Symphony X is so heavily present in this album, almost making “Inner Circle of Reality” a sort of “Symphony X tribute”. However, Time Requiem are technically well prepared, and they make the album sounding interesting since the beginning, well leaded by the keyboard hero Andresson, that has nothing to envy to the new generation of keyboard virtuosists such as Kuprij, and shows more fantasy (and fortunately sounds “less plastic”) than his eminent colleagues.

The first track, titled “Reflections”, opens with a very fast synth solo that leads to a guitar/synth riff (in which the synth doubles almost as if was a second guitar). The synth strings pervade the atmosphere as the lyrics sung with the powerful voice of Apollo Papathanasio project us into a good song that has too much to owe to Symphony X’ “Grand Design” – most of the song is extremely similar. The central synth solo is original in sonorities, but the bass and drum work (by Zoltan Csörsz  on drums and again follow too closely the footsteps of the immortal Symphony X. But the effort is good from this band, although the fans of the New Jersey combine will not appreciate it.

A good “orchestral” intro to the second track, “The Inner Circle of Reality” (that also gives the title to the album), mounting a crescendo of synth and guitars, with the bass and drum work that suddenly stop, only to reappear after seconds to undertake again their work in odd tempo. Maybe too “synthetic”, this intro opens the curtains to the voice that, again in a Russel Allen style, leads an original vocal line with interesting passages between major and minor chords with counterpoint of doubled voice. The keyboards again have preeminent role and the guitar is once again very particular, filtered through synths. Sometimes the Power Metal sound surfaces but it appears lost in the Prog oriented sonorities that characterize this disc. Sudden stops of tempo again remember us that we are listening to a good Prog metal work, with extremely quick passages that are more reminiscent of Fates Warning. And suddenly a bridge of keyboards with fresh sonorities unlike anything heard since decades, quite winking at great Prog bands such as Yes or ELP, especially in the bass solo with the keyboards arpeggios. Very good for those of us who still love good music and old influences.

With a delicate intro of piano and synth strings the voice of Papathanasio introduces us to “Dreams of Tomorrow”, a song that almost steps out of the trend of this album. Here the interpretation of Papthanasio is quite good and felt, and perfectly merges with the music – when suddenly guitar, bass and drums make their entry, and the song changes shape, resulting maybe the most original in the album. Sadly the vocal line again becomes too similar to Allen’s way of singing, while the keyboards are well balanced with the rest of the instruments – except when going in riffs in which easily takes the place that should be of a guitar. The good surprise of this track is a well played guitar solo in which at last Magnus Nord can emerge. A Malmsteen-like solo of synth finds its way towards the final refrain with a hint of “Divine Wings of Tragedy”.

Altar of Roses” is a perfect “neoclassic” song, in style with the two inspiration fonts for Andersson (Malmsteen and Symphony X), in which all the SyXers (like me) can easily find hints to “The Witching Hour” and the chorus of “The Relic”. But this song offer very little both to praise and criticize – pleasant to the ear, but nothing terribly exciting about it.

Different approach must be used with the following one, “Definition of Insanity”. After the usual keyboard intro, a splendid major chord riff of guitar and drums/bass opens into a beautiful song, in which at last no influence can be easily recognized. Quite personal in development and in the way it is played, this “Definition of Insanity” is a good track with all the musician in good shape. The chorus has clearly a good chance to stay impressed in memory for a while, making this a candidate for a single – if any. The song almost becomes hard rock (the style of Malmsteen’s “I am Viking”), and the two soloes (keyboards and guitar) are well performed upon a standard bass’n’drums carpet, maybe in this song a bit too repetitive.

Quest of a Million Souls starts in minor tones, with a ternary rhythm – melancholic and quite dramatic, this song is quite interesting both for the ¾ tempo used and for the interpretation by all the musicians. While not heavy, destructive or energetic, this song is a good ballad that never becomes boring or dull. In my opinion the keyboard solo should have been left to the guitar that in these cases is much better suited that a synth (and I am a keyboard player by myself…) – and as a matter of fact, the song ends with a guitar solo. Some things can never be changed, when a song calls for something you have to do it!

In “Hidden Memories” we hear for few moments a piano, but then the song becomes again synthetic – developing however in a pleasant and enjoyable riff, with a good vocal line – remembering maybe Malmsteen’s songs, but good and pleasant to the ear. “Hidden Memories” perfectly fits into the melodic metal style (à la Edguy), and will be appreciated by those melodic metallers out there. The finale is interesting, becoming almost orchestral before giving way to a keyboard solo, to chorus and finally again to a much missed piano.

Andersson goes happily solo in the last song, “Prelude Variations” by J.S. Bach. Like Richard Wakeman or Keith Emerson when they re-arranged classical songs for the more “rocker” audience, this is both a boon and a curse for the modern keyboard player.

It should be noted for the collectors that the Japanese version (which I did not reviewed, of course) has a bonus track, a cover of the Abba song “Voulez vous” (Abba, being Swedish, seem the favourite pop band for the Nordic metal world).

I must mention it – I have some personal ideas to express here. I don’t like very much the excess of synths (both in the Progressive rock and Prog metal) and (like with Artension, Dream Theater, Vandeplas) the final output sounds too synthetic to be Metal. I don’t even particularly like the lead synth sounds – most of the “keyboard heroes” tend to use square wave leads with very few resonance or sweep, that certainly enhance their speed and excessive techniques, but all goes to detriment of originality, fantasy, and chief of all – heart and soul of music. I would like a better choice of sounds, more varied and less standardized that what we hear in the new Prog metal. But these are my personal considerations, as stated before.

Back to the album, the recording is very good, the technique of the musicians is well above average, and nothing can be said against their preparation and inspiration. The not exciting vote is not for any mistake from their part, but for one reason – Time Requiem are for Symphony X what Dream Theater are for progressive rock… there is more than “simple inspiration” in this CD; I am personally happy that one of my favourite bands are praised in such a way, but I think that from a musician like Andersson – that has clearly both the ways and technique of doing pretty everything with a keyboard – I would have expected something more original. And a bit of humble advice: I would leave more room to Nord and his guitar – very good technically speaking but with pretty few moments for him to express; after all, this is also metal music. But after these caveat, I will gladly recommend this CD to any true lover of prog and necolassic metal – it is far better than many things now on the market, because at least there is clear admission of influences, and the musicians and songs are of a very high quality.

All in all, not terribly original, but very well performed and capable of outclassing several more praised “Prog metal” bands.

Rating: 6.5/10


Marco Signore    

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