Waken Eyes | Exodus
Label: Ulterium Records
Release Year : 2015
Genre: Dark Progressive Metal/Rock
Tom Frelek – Guitars
Mike Lepond – Symphony X – Bass
Marco Minnemann – Steven Wilson – Drums
Henrik Bath – Darkwater – Vocals
It has not been too long since Waken Eyes come upon my radar. I have the fortune to be friends on social media with Darkwater’s own Henrik Bath – vocals and SymphonyX’s Mike Lepond – bass. Knowing that two of the best in the world were finally going to be on a project together really wet my curiosity and anticipation rather quickly. Waken Eyes 2015 offering Exodus has also allowed me the opportunity to get to know the utter genius in Canada’s own Tom Frelek – guitars. What Tom Frelek has engineered is nothing but a total masterpiece. The prog metal bug certainly bit Tom and injected the right melodic and instrumental poison.
From the very beginning, Waken Eyes Exodus coils up like a melodic serpent and commands the attention of both the progressive purist and the metal purist. Its dark tentacles satisfies the pallet of the metal purist while the technical precison grabs the progressive rock and metal pure pallet’s. The excellent rhythm section between Mike LePond and Marco Minnemann – drums seems to have come together quite naturally while the soulful vocals of Henrik Bath gives the stringed and rhythm sections a world class quality. Tom Frelek has engineered Exodus so well that the ‘Supergroup’ connotation seems to not apply on Waken Eyes. Exodus is ten tracks. Nine tracks tell various stories of positivity, spirituality, fearlessnes and media and governments both the good side and the bad. It all comes together on the final self titled 18+ minute track Exodus.
Lets explore Exodus a little bit.
Cognition is the opening instrumental on Exodus. It has a really cool intro that has the effects of the outdoors and nature before being followed by a nice solid and steady drum/keyboard section. It gives the listener time to digest what they are hearing. Cognition demonstrates Tom Frelek’s orchestral prowess in great detail. Once again Mike Lepond demonstrates why he is one of the worlds most sought after bass players. The instrumental is joined in the middle of the track by a nice symphonic choral section.
Abberation starts right after a brief spoken word transition at the end of Cognition. Soon this is followed up by a solid progressive intro signature heavy with guitars and deep rhythm section. The first couple of minutes Mike LePond puts on a bass clinic before Henrik Bath comes in with a soft warm vocal. The rest of the track takes on a heavily cinematic orchestral signature. About the 3:00 mark there comes a thunderous series of of various signatures and progressions. Some of these progressions and signatures take on a math prog metal vibe in certain areas. Tom Frelek has a solid solo in the middle of Abberation. Lyrically the track is about a lost soul hoping to be found.
Deafening Thoughts begins in a almost progressive doom metal signature with heavy bottom rhythm section and a tuned down guitar. About the :50 mark enters a keyboard of almost filmscore proportion. This goes on until the 1:40 mark where the track takes on a more traditional prog metal signature. The rhythmic section between Marco on drums and Mike on bass really start to tighten up the album and give it a true rhythm identity. They also manage this without bringing any of their primary band influences and resting on them.
Back To Life is the first official single off Exodus and is probably the most radio friendly without going through the horrible editing to make it acceptable for radio. It starts out with a nice spoken word speech that appears to be a political one before Henrik Bath graces this with his warm vocal that is becoming a signature for him on the project. The guitar solo in Back To Life reminds me of a Steve Vai or John Petrucci with the initial melodic explosion of notes. This has a nice traditional verse, bridge chorus that gives it a pop sensibility that can open doors to a non progressive or metal listener.
Palisades takes on a beautiful intro of deep rhythm guitar with a even deeper bass to drum rhythm section. If you like rhythm oriented instrumental rock, Palisades is a track for your ears. Even the most discriminating listener can find this relevant. About the 2:00 mark it explodes into a hybrid of progressive and power metal with a faster guitar and galloping rhythm section. The vocals continue to get better and tighten up the more Exodus progresses. The guitar solo here is a monsterous one and in perfect harmony with the odd time signature in the rhythm section.
Cornerstone Away starts with a lush and gorgeous semi acoustic guitar underbelly while a nice semi solo intro is overdubbed in perfect harmony with it. The rhythm section takes on a very deep and brooding signature before the track starts ascending in progression and signatures. Henrik Bath begins to stretch the vocal more and more. Lyrically it is a song of searching and introspection. The guitar solo takes on some shredding sensibility in the middle. The band seems to becoming progressive metal entity with its own identity now. The end of the track finds various fuzzy and clean signatures flowing in and out of one another along with big drum blast beats and deep bass rhythms.
Still Life begins with a very dark yet haunting guitar signature. The guitar almost manipulates the sound of a violin while a solo is playing over top. It soon takes on a harmonic acoustical element with a solo running in harmony with it. Still Life is the power ballad of Exodus if there is one. Still Life is the second instrumental on the project.
Arise picks up where Still Life leaves off in a somewhat somber progression. At the :40 mark the track explodes again with hard pounding progressive signatures and a power vocal performance spot on for any prog purist. Their is a thick underlying cinematic signature that helps the vocal tell the story of the track. Their are some nice breaks where the vocal is isolated with the instrumental. At the 3:53 mark the track calms into a slow somber signature that is comfort to the ears of the listener. At the 5:46 mark there is a spoken word undertone speaking of rising against darkness. This is followed up with a solid vocal and instrumental melody.
Across The Horizon starts with a hard driving straight away heavy metal progressive hard rock signature before settling in at the 1:13 mark. From there there are various subtle time signatures going in and out with the occassional vocal harmonic vocal. At the 2:30 mark it slows again and then explodes into a feel good progression with a explosive vocal. The track stays on course with a vicious rhythm section that doubles almost like a heavy AOR signature. The track continues to display the reasons Tom Frelek hired Henrik Bath and that is for good quality progressive rock and metal vocal work that stays spot on. At the 5:45 mark the track just explodes into almost a power metal style with great vocal melodies in harmony with the various odd signatures.
Exodus is the self title 18+ minute track that really ties the entire theme together of the previous songs and stories on the album. It starts with a nice solid semi acoustical guitar and electric guitar in a deep rhythm progression with the bass work of Mike LePond. At the 2:30 mark the track begins to shift gears and a barrage of various time signatures and progression begin to exchange and interchange. The signatures and progressions give the listener no time for boredom. They really wrap the attention of the listener and take it to another atmosphere in the theater of the mind.
It is a good 5+ minutes before Henrik Bath once again enters in with a warm eloquently sung vocal. At the 5:50 mark time signatures and progressive elements go on another unpredictable passage. The vocals are accompanied by varous breaks along with some very well executed spoken word segments. The track continues in a more acsending progression and signature building chord on top of chord. At about the 9:00 mark the track slows way down as if there is a part 2 or intermission. This is met with semi acoustical guitar with a series of well executed spoken word sections that give the composition depth and direction. The spoken word sections are snippets of political speeches from various points in history.
At the 11:41 mark the track takes on a really gritty rhythmic signature before taking a more traditional progressive element. There are various solos and rhythmic elements going in and out taking different turns allowing for a full listening experience and display the talents of the individual members in a more united front. Exodus allows for the album to finish strong.
I am not sure if Waken Eyes is a one and done project. I do know after the listening experience that the members have a great quality product they can tour on. They definitely established themselves as a prog entity. In 2015 where this has been a banner year for progressive rock and metal a new force has emerged on the scene that being Waken Eyes. I give Waken Eyes Exodus 4.75/5.