Magnitude 9 - Reality In Focus review
|Album:||Reality In Focus|
01. No Turning Back
02. End Of Days
03. What My Eyes Have Seen
04. Far Beyond Illusion
05. Mind Over Fear
06. Flight Of Icarus [Iron Maiden cover]
08. Lost Along The Way
09. Temples Of Gold
10. Quiet Desperation
11. Man On The Silver Mountain [Rainbow cover]
The sophomore effort from prog metalists Magnitude 9 is quite an improvement over the debut Chaos to Control. Most of the potential that Chaos to Control alluded to has been fulfilled with Reality In Focus. Of course, its hard to go wrong when the team is built around all-star guitarist Rob Johnson. While there is the occasional tendency to riff off into oblivion, the listener can tolerate the occasional overplaying due to the enormous talent Johnson showcases throughout the disc. Now, this is not to say that Johnson's bandmates aren's heard from. On the contrary, the keyboard textures provided by Joseph Anastacio Glenn are a great complement to Johnson's guitar work. The rhythm section is anchored in superior fashion by bassist Kevin Chown [Artension] and drummer John Homan [what a job on 'Mind Over Fear'!]. In Corey Brown the band has both a capable vocalist and a truly stellar lyricist.
The tasty lyrical soup includes concepts such as human greed ['What My Eyes Have Seen'], dealing with death of those close to us ['Afterlife'], the ever-changing world around us ['The End of Days'] and the difficulty of having to make decisions involving complicated relationships ['Quiet Desperation']. A subtle ribbon of religious undertones permeates the disc in a non-preachy and effective way. Once the listener reads the lyrics to 'Temples of Gold' and peruses the credits, it becomes clear that the guys in Magnitude 9 feel spiritual issues and metal can tastefully and reasonably mix and I for one couldn's agree more.
Literally every song on the disc includes one or more solos by Johnson. Yngwie Malmsteem comes to mind often. If you are fan of Johnson's previous work, then this disc is a no-brainer; ya gotta have it. However, there is more here - I get the feeling that Magnitude 9 is poised to vault into progressive metal stardom. However, the production on future discs must get better. When placed in a six-pack magazine of discs and track shuffled you can clearly pick out the sub par production. The music needs to be brought forward. I feel like I'm listening from the back of a large concert hall, rather than on the front row.
The very progressive 'Afterlife' and crushing 'Mind Over Fear' are highlights of the disc. 'Quiet Desperation' is brilliant all the way around as is easily my favorite track. The guitar work here is magnificent. The Iron Maiden cover 'Flight of Icarus' is also a can's miss. There really are no fillers: lots of crunchy progressive metal from start to finish. Fans of Dream Theater and Vanden Plas will easily buy in. Bottom line: this disc oozes with talent from five musicians who sound perfectly suited for each other. Magnitude 9 is very underrated, but with any progression at all on a third release, they will be firmly grounded amidst the top bands of the genre.
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