– Writers Editorial – I have been resting on this one a lot recently. I have not seen many reviews written in the English language. Maybe I am the first. If I am first I hope I am not last. This album is well worth any attention a reviewer can give to it. I just know I can not get out of 2017 without reviewing this.
For a while now I have been aware of Rockshots Records out of Italy. They seem to recruit talent in the tradition of Nuclear Blast,Century Media, AMF Records, etc .. One band on their highly talented roster that has quickly got my attention is Overkhaos. Their new album for 2017 Beware Of Truth is a well balanced buffet of dark progressive metal and melodic death metal. On the Dark Progressive Metal side they are more like Nevermore, Ghost Ship Octavius and Evergrey. On the Melodic Death Metal side they bring the best elements of Persefone, Insommnium, Soilwork and Arch Enemy. The blend of all these elements is surely to give the band a very broad fan base going forward and without outsourcing a vocalist for the death metal style vocals.
Overkhaos’ Beware Of Truth is a true venture into progressive metal with heavy themes of social commentary on globalism, war, poverty, government secrecy, etc .. A true objective listener to the album can relate and identify with it on both a instrumental level and a lyrical level. Giving the album a great veteran boost is (ex – Dream Theater) keyboardist Derek Sherinian who shows up on Anna’s Song. This album is greatly guitar driven with a twin lead & rhythm guitar attack of both Davide Giancane – Lead & Rhythm Guitar and Giuliano Zarcone – Lead & Rhythm Guitar that both sound like if you were to put Jeff Loomis of Nevermore and Emppu Vuorinen of Nightwish in a band together. This is all blended wonderfully by the powerhouse rhythm section of Anna Digiovanni – Bass and Andrea Mariani – Drums who give this album a serious set of melodic teeth. It is all rounded out by a stellar clean and death vocal attack performed so eloquently by Mimmo D’oronzo – Vocals, who has become one of my newest favorite vocalists in the world. Now I will go further into Overkhaos’ Beware Of Truth.
Prelude opens the album with a strong and very heavy instrumental. The instrumental is done in such a way as to lead the listener into the album. The band spent the better part of 3:00 minutes really introducing the world to their skill set as musicians and give the listener a very broad example of just how well they are as musicians. The band does a excellent job with a rich guitar based chord progression and various time signatures rooted into their progressive side.The atmosphere created is definitely for the ‘metal purist’. This is a very strong way to invite fans of this style of music to your album and brand as a band. This transitions seamlessly well into the following track Silent Death.
Silent Death seamlessly and smoothly transitions right off the Prelude. The transition is served up with a special effect sounding like children at play in a playground before going into various heavy chord progressions and time signatures. Along with the various rhythm and lead chord progressions the rhythm section of bass/drum totally sets melodious roots in the track almost immediately. The drum double blast beats are insane and stay that way throughout the entire album. At the 1:55 mark there is this hugs wall of sound as the death growls and the melodic death metal side of Overkhaos is first introduced on the album. The cleaner vocals remind me a lot of Nevermore’s Warrel Dane meets Tom Englund of Everygrey. All the melodic assault of all the instruments is followed by the soaring lead vocal work of Mimmo D’oronzo. This is a very intense track for the first track with vocals on the album. In conceptual standards this track also seamlessly transitions smoothly to the next song Solar Starvation.
Solar Starvation transitions smoothly off Silent Death. This is accomplished by the band utilizing a sound effect like a radio transmission into space like a signal or message. Soon a heavy bass line along with a heavy rhythm based guitar chord progression with crunch and teeth starts to walk the listener right into the heart of the song before being hammered by a all out blistering twin guitar progression and deep rhythm tones. The band uses double vocal tracking very tastefully on this track in melody with the blistering instrumental. The twin lead guitar really supports moth sides of the vocals, the clean side and the death side. This track shows that the band have a purpose for every guitar line and bass line and drum line.
Khaos Inc. starts off after a very quick transition away from Solar Starvation. The brief sound effect is as if a car ignition has started and the track is about to serve as the motor to drive the album even further along. From this point there is a sick insane lead guitar solo almost in the galloping tradition of NWOBHM with more complex progressive elements. The double blast beats are the anchor in the beginning. The drum double blast beats come in and out with brief breaks and allow the bass and both rhythm/lead guitars to breathe where all instruments have a unique place within the song. This track lives up to its title that it is very unpredictable and takes the listener on a true melodic roller coaster. Through all the changes however, the band remains on point with the conceptual objective to the album. There are some very melodic metal portions here also.
The Lie You Need starts out with the crowd of people demanding the truth. This narrative is soon met with a explosive and thunderous rhythm based intro with big drum blast beats and bass weaving in and out of breaks. This track also has a lot going for it and goes in and out with many time signature and chord progressions just within the first 2:50 minutes. The time signatures are insane. The deathy vocals remain prevalent in this track. The death vocals serve both as a emotion of anger and a proclamation of a thought.
Crumbling starts out with a effect like that of a civil unrest. It is soon met with a blistering opening chord progression that is straight away. The vocals are soaring in nature. There is soon a very tasteful death vocal to accompany the clean vocal. The band has such advantage throughout the album of having the same vocalist shift some many gears in his voice like he does. The twin lead guitar solo puts a lot of bite into the instrumental portion as well. The lyrical content is basically as the title, a crumbling society.
White Light opens up with a atmospheric electric guitar with the vocals filtered into a more regressive passage. It is soon met with the band’s trademark intricate chord progressions and trademark sound. There is a very heavy thunderous rhythm section that beautifully anchor’s the soaring twin guitar lead and rhythm solo’s. The twin solo’s remind me a lot of early Helloween meets Dream Theater. The string section perfectly compliments the vocals. The bass is insane on here as well.
Die Catsaw! transitions seamlessly off White Light with a deep brooding opening passage. This is soon met by a more melodic death metal approach in the vein of Persefone or Mors Principium Est meets Soilwork. The cleaner vocals are more in the way of a Kamelot meets Symphony X. The bass/drum rhythm section certainly adds serious rhythmic depth to the track. This track here also seems to have two distinct sides in the same harmony, that being the stringed section and the deep rhythm section that both shine on this. The instrumental harmony is set up more orchestral.
Anna’s Song (Featuring Derek Sherinian) opens up with a explosive chord progression and of fusion proportions. The signature sound of Derek Sherinian certainly confirms his appearance on the album. This reminds me a lot of Dream Theater meets Virgin Steel in sound. This is certainly a orchestral buffet blended perfectly with heavy elements of melodic and symphonic death metal. I like how the band utilizes various breaks to set up for other orchestral passages. Every time they break in the track it sets it up for yet another passage set to another climax. The rhythm section continues to anchor the track very beautifully and holing every other part accountable where the band remains on point.
Deadline opens up with various guitar time signatures that continue to be beautifully anchored by the depth in the rhythm section. The opening passage is very methodical with every note. The band also has a way to demonstrate every element they used throughout the album on Deadline. This track is done at a more deep rhythm based than for speed to allow the listener to digest the journey that Overkhaos Beware Of Truth. This is also the longest song on the album and the band does a great job making it more a epic that the listener can take a journey with. This track serves as a excellent melodic and harmonious summary to what the band has managed to perform on the album.
Overkhaos’ Beware Of Truth is a True Dark Horsealbum of 2017. The band bring so many metal elements and progressive elements to Beware Of Truth. It is the multiple elements that will open many doors for the band to play live. The band is also a perfect band for a festival like Prog/Power USA or Prog/Power Europe along with Wacken Open Air. A band like Overkhaos serves as a excellent reminder that this brand of progressive melodic death metal will be around for many more years to come. Rockshots Records have a franchise band in Overkhaos. I give Overkhaos Beware Of Truth a 4.5/5.
For the last 20+ years TEN have been one of the most ‘criminally under rated’ sometimes brutally overlooked bands within progressive melodic metal communities and even the AOR community. This band first entered my radar with 2000’sSpellbound and 2001’s Far Beyond The World. All I could fixate my interest on was the beautifully eloquent yet very versatile lead vocals of Gary Hughes. Both Spellbound & Far Beyond The World made me a instant fan of any work related to Gary Hughes. A little later on I would come across a very well written and produced Rock/Metal Opera created by Gary Hughes titled One And Future King Parts 1 & 2.From that point on I was totally sold as a fan of Gary Hughes.
It seems TEN has been a very white hot band within the last five years. First they would release both the critical and fan approved Albion in 2014, Isla De Muerta 2015 and The Dragon And St. George EP in 2015. Now in 2017 the band makes yet another triumphant return with their heaviest and darkest album since The Twilight Chronicles and The Robe that album being Gothica. This also marks TEN’s triumphant return to Frontiers Records srl.
In TEN Gary Hughes has managed to successfully surround himself with a lot of the top melodic metal/rock, AOR talent in the world. Joining Gary Hughes is Dann Rosingana – Lead Guitars , Steve Grocott – Lead Guitars , John Halliwell – Rhythm Guitars , Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards , Steve McKenna – Bass , Max Yates – Drums. This lineup here manages to keep TEN well balanced between its main elements of progressive metal, melodic metal, hard rock, AOR. These lineup also has been proven one of the most consistent lineups serving the needs of the band while satisfying a global fan base that seems to grow more and more with every album and tour.
TEN’s Gothica is a darker more seductive album lyrically. This is matched in harmony to many of the darker heavier instrumental portions that accompany the lyrical content from track to track. TEN also put the ‘Adult’ inside of AOR or Adult Oriented Rockwith their lyrical content that is so racy and laden with sensual innuendo’s. I am shocked they have not had a Parental Advisory label placed on the front of their albums. TEN also have had the uncanny ability to match their album cover art with the melodic content that lies within each album. Now I am will point out some highlights from every track.
The Grail starts out with the lead vocal serving in the capacity of a chant. Soon the twin lead guitar riffs along with the keyboards open the track up with a wonderful wall of sound. The guitars take this track in many different chord progressions and time signatures. The riffs carry the track with the big bass/drum rhythm section. Gary Hughes gives the listener the appearance he is singing with a isolated vocal in harmony with the instrumental portion of the track. One of the unsung heroes to this particular track is Steve McKenna – Bass & Max Yates – Drums giving the track a lot of teeth and bite where the rhythm guitar and the twin lead guitar’s can take root on this melodious canvas. About the 4:40 mark the drums really anchor another isolated lead vocal section to allow the lyrical content of the story to come through smoothly. Their is a spiritual element in the lyrical content. Darrel Teece Birch – Keyboards actually incorporates a beautiful grand piano sound to the track. The Grail is the epic of the album clocking in at 8:03
Jekyll And Hyde is obviously a story of two personalities within one person. This starts out with the sound of someone walking the brick streets before being engulfed in a strong unified rhythm section between all instruments involved. The lead guitar bleeds through from time to time to add accent to the heavily induced rhythm section. The lyrical content is seriously dark much like the title of track itself. The lead vocals are more soulful on the track. The piano adds a classical element in certain places on the song. The rest of the song is a straight away hard rock song.
Travelers starts out with a sound effect of a clock tower both ringing and tick toking giving the track a subtle sense of urgency with the listener. The lyrical content talks about time and how humans have used it in both our lives and our travels. About the 1:05 mark the track explodes into a heavy wall of sound with a big guitar and bass/drum section. The lead vocals keep getting stronger with every song and Travelers serves as a great example of them. Much in the tradition of hard rock there are towering guitar solo’s serving as transitions within the song.
Man For All Seasons begins in a very traditional folky renaissance chord progression much like what would of been heard in the 16th century Europe. It gives the appearance that a king has returned home to his castle and kingdom. This track takes away a lot from Gary Hughes early work with 2003’s Once And Future King Parts 1&2. The folky passage in soon joined by a straight away hard rock chord progression passage. The lyrical content even speaks of a a era ruled by King Henry. The twin lead guitar and the stringed section gives the song some extra fire. The track maintains a very steady and progressive melodic metal chord progression. This track builds layer upon layers subtlety and gradually. Both twin lead guitar’s very fluently back off one another in their solo’s as if they are communicating back and forth.
In My Dreams starts out with a thunderous rhythm section that meets the senses of the listener immediately. There is also a noticeable method to the madness with the open intro. This track has a lot of the AOR elements you would find in a film to a 1980’s soundtrack. Lyrically it is a risque style love story perhaps by a adolescent with a hard crush on a girl or full grown adult woman for that matter. The twin lead guitar solo’s really play off one another giving the stringed portion of the track a deeper level of fullness.
The Wild King Of Winter opens up very atmospheric with steady keyboards and lush guitars to form a semi electric/semi acoustic landscape allowing for the listener to be enveloped within the song. It soon takes off with a blistering straight ahead dark heavy guitar. This is one of those tracks that make Gothica darker than the last few previous TEN albums. The heavy instrumental portion gives the listener the appearance that there is this great conflict about to happen or is in progress. The riffs are also straight away galloping riffs that remind much of early NWOBHM sound. The thunderous rhythm section remains pretty consistent throughout the song providing both heaviness and depth.
Paragon lyrically talks about virtue or the lack thereof. This track is another one of those with lyrical content that put ‘Adult’ into Adult Oriented Rock or AOR. The opening starts with a beautiful piano in harmony with a isolated vocal that opens the story up for the listener. This song can be looked upon as a power ballad with some heavy elements within the guitars and full rhythm section, all that can be heard very well. With all the erotica and love elements there is still a darker under layer in the song.
Welcome To The Freakshow starts out like you might expect it, a total circus. The opening is as if the listener becomes a audience member in the town circus. This would be a adult circus. Once again there are some heavy erotica elements. This track here is also a great testament of how Gary Hughes & TEN can tell several stories within the album construct. Although there may be a common theme present every song has its own uniquely written, recorded and melodiously articulated story. Welcome To The Freakshow is a perfect example to this. The song even gets a little bluesy and gritty the further along it goes.
La – Luna Dra -cu – la opens up with a heavy chord progressive passage with big rhythm guitars in harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. The twin lead guitars continue to add depths and layers. It also opens with very dark elements which are appropriate due to the very nature of the title. Some of the lyrical content is reminiscent of a Bram Stoker novel meets a Boris Karloff film. The guitar solo’s are a bit nasty yet groove laden. This track is also more into the melodic heavy metal genre. The band pulls no punches and spares no expense being intentionally heavy on this one. There is still a erotic tone through the song as well.
Into Darkness opens up with a sound effect much like a film projector inside a cinema. The track opens up musically with a beautiful piano of Darrel Treece Birch. This song is a all out heavy power rock ballad. It soon picks up and takes various twists and turns into heavier dimensions and breaks and comes back to the power ballad element. The vocals are isolated perfectly as to allow the story to harmoniously be articulated towards its target audience. The beautiful twin lead guitar solo’s really stand out in the production as well.
Paragon (Bonus Mix) – Japanese Version Only this track is a more user audience friendly version that is only on the Japanese version. It is also edited down considerably from the album version to be radio friendly also. There is more heavy keyboard atmospheres present here as well.
TEN’s Gothica is the perfect album for their return to Frontiers Records srl. There is a little bit of every element the band has utilized over its 20+ years in the business. Once again Gary Hughes surrounds himself with some of the top musicians in the world to carry out such fantastic vision. Gothica also proves that melodic heavy metal and AOR can also have a darker heavier appeal to attract a much larger audience. TEN’s Gothica gets a 5/5for staying true to their vision and values their fans and audience members have come to expect.
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