Review by Rick Ossian
Progressive metal from Sweden? Say it isn’t so! Although I am aware of several others, this is, I confess, the first I’ve actually heard of these fellows. I believe there was also a British 70’s rock band with the same moniker. Also, on looking to see what Wikipedia/Facebook had to say on the subject, I discovered that there is/was a hardcore Phoenix outfit with the same name as well. In any case, this is pretty good fare, and involves 10 tracks that appear to be criticizing Obama’s ability to govern, amidst other things. In fact, there are two tracks with spoken word bits, Obama voicing one and, I’m assuming, Tony Blair or other Parliamentary official the other. So this may be a slightly political record. It is also a rock record. A GOOD rock record.
Preemptive Strike starts things off with a bang, charging right out of the gate with a synth-and-guitar attack that is, unfortunately, missing from much of today’s so-called ‘progressive metal’. The vocals are also clear, soaring above the mix like only a truly powerful vocalist can. Bloom vocalist David Fremberg does an admirable job, replacing Andromeda’s former vocalist, Lawrence Mackrory (Seethings, Darkane, Enemy Is Us). The second track, Lies R Us, tells us of a corporate entity that, indeed, should be the moniker of many a corporate entity. There is some tasty lead guitar work about four minutes in.
Stay Unaware has more of a thrash vibe to it. Oddly enough, the keyboards are still prevalent, something which I’ve not experienced a lot in the thrash context itself. To me, it fits- in fact, it works well!. Referring to ‘the puppets we elect’ certainly depicts the current stateside administration, let alone those the world over. Half way through this tune, we experience an eerily mellow midsection, with light guitar and vocals. Continue to listen, however, and you will see that the band were just sucking us in, setting us up for the ultimate keyboard/guitar cacophony. A duel, even, not for the first time and certainly not the last.
Survival of the Richest begins with a mellow piano/vocal introduction, and includes a reference to Boxing Day, something with which I am not familiar, but I understand UK residents will be. Upon researching the matter, it appears to be the second day of the Christmas season, a bank holiday, among other things. But this is not a history lesson. Again, about four minutes in, there is some tasty lead work. On we go!
False Flag, the longest track here, is an epic of definite prog proportions, clocking in at 9-and-a-half minutes. It contains the aforementioned spoken word bit from Barrack Obama, telling us not to worry, that ‘war is sometimes necessary in the pursuit of peace’. As citizens, we know that this is just ‘president speak’. We’ve heard it all before. Even in this context (Queensryche‘s Empire, anyone?), spoken word bits seem almost an afterthought nowadays. Peace and freedom is indeed the rallying point of the track, and pops up in the lyric more than once. The ‘media playing mind games, playing on our fears’ also sounds vaguely familiar. Ah, politics – the stuff of war – and heavy metal!
Chosen By God features more spoken word bits. Asylum begins with a sort of rap/beat box intro (???) – in fact, it is almost industrial metal throughout, and features cool lead work and some nice riffing. Play Dead is another track of epic length (8 minutes), and includes some cool vocal effects. Go Back To Sleep is much mellower, but still pretty good. A dreamy synth solo closes this number. The final track, Antidote, is another lengthy one (7 minutes), and features another guitar/synth duel about 5 minutes in. Very cool.