Arcane

Ashes

Ashes


Reviewed By Justin Donnelly
Published 30/11/2007

The start of something

Although originally starting out as Dreamscope, and gathering a devoted local following in and around the Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) through their independently released six track E.P. titled Insurrection and their live performances, the band decided to part ways with their vocalist Gerard after two years together. The addition of vocalist Jim Grey to the fold (Comprising of guitarist Michael Gagen, bassist Shirley, keyboardist Matty Martin and drummer Stephen Walsh) meant a new beginning for the band, which duly brought about a change of name to Arcane (Named after the character in Douglas Adams' third volume of Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

For the next couple of years, Arcane once again rebuilt their following from the ground up, and after a minor line-up change (Dead Letter Opener vocalist/bassist Mick Millard replaced Shirley in August 2006), they finally headed into the studio and produced their highly anticipated debut full-length effort Ashes. On the strength of their independent release, the band were offered a deal through Ozprog Music, and after giving the album a slight re-master (Courtesy of Peter Van't Riet, who's worked with Symphony X, Ayreon and Threshold in the past), Ashes has finally been given the opportunity to help spread Arcane's brand of progressive rock on a national level.

The band opens up the album with Desolace, which seamlessly blends elements of eastern influences (Most notably within Grey's vocals) and '70's inspired progressive rock (Which is more than present in Martin's retro keyboard sounds) to great effect. The first part of the follow up track Dawn (Awakening) shows off the band's modern influences, most notably a mix between Fates Warning and Dream Theater. From here, the track slowly builds in tempo and aggression (Aware), drifts into some mind bending quirky passages (Both Power and Machinations), before finishing up with a somewhat gentle and climatic finale (Revelations).

The shorter Fulcrum once again revisits the eastern influenced themes of the opener initially before venturing into a blurring mix of progressive jazz and straight out progressive metal, while the epic twenty-five minute title track Ashes (Once again divided between the slower and melancholy Twilight, the dual paced Midnight and the concluding part of the trilogy First Light) encompasses of the group's collective influences into the one track. The final effort Memory Awaits sees Grey putting in a mesmerising and powerfully moving performance alongside Martin's piano work, making it easily the album's strongest and biggest stand out tracks.

Arcane certainly have the potential to go far, and no further proof is needed than a single run through the album. However, on the downside, the album's production and Grey's vocal performances (Where he sometimes fails to deliver what he's aiming for in the high notes) at times hinders the potential evident within Ashes. But having said that, Arcane have more than made their mark, with the promise of something even greater next time around.

(Ozprog Music/Green Media Distribution/M.G.M. Distribution)

More from Arcane

Ashes

Reviewed By Justin Donnelly
Published 30/11/2007