Azure Agony - Beyond Belief review
|Release date:||October 2009|
02. Mystic Interiors
03. Terror Haza
04. The Temple Of Vandora
05. Ante Tentora
06. Across Elysian Fields
07. The Fall Of The Vector
08. Secret Gateway
09. The Last City
Instrumental Progressive metal
Recorded: New Sin Studio, Italy 2008-2009
Label: SG Records
Total Running Time: 50:07
I don't know what the deal is, but over at the SG Records company they sure like their instrumental bands. Then again, I suppose somebody has to. Azure Agony is already the third SG Records signed instrumental outfit I get on my plate. And it looks like I'm getting less and less enthusiastic over this dish. While in theory there's nothing wrong with instrumental music, subpar executed instrumental music however means a real malady for the genre. And that's the major issue here. And that's exactly why Azure Agony cannot really tickle my fancy.
Let's go back to the early days when Dream Theater was just to be born. Imagine a quasi unexperienced Myung, Petrucci and Portnoy still jamming together without their first vocalist, Chris Collins. This is a fair image of how Azure Agony sounds like, only fourteen years later: tendencies to moderate Dream Theater worship.
Songs are mainly keyboard-driven. Bearable but sometimes on the verge of annoying. A shame that especially the guitar lines get drenched in those keyboard tunes and synthesized effects. Beyond Belief does have its catchy, accessible and rousing passages though. But don't ask me on what songs, I wouldn't know, I got easily distracted, sorry. In these days when we all tend to suffer from an attention deficit disorder, you can't afford to offer the listener something too unexceptional. That's the additional gamble in the instrumental music genre. What's more, next to keeping the listener captivated the entire album long, Beyond Belief also has a problem in being memorable. I wouldn't really say the songwriting is superficial or uninspired, and it isn't overly complex either though with enough breaks and tempo twists, yet it still is somewhat sloppy and inconclusive. To that amount that you've totally forgotten about the song even before it's finished. Also, I could not escape the impression that the sound is by times in severe lack of soul. On other moments, the music is just craving for some vocals. Either way, this isn't my idea of being speechless.
Sure this review may seem a little harsh. Even inappropriately harsh if you listen to the only (and thus not representative) song in the band's MySpace player. Though the last thing these guys need is some encouragement to continue in the exact same direction. The material isn't all bad; it's just not good enough to be considered first-class material. There's still a lot of work and effort to be done to make this project work properly. I know this band wants to focus on the easy-listening aspect, but maybe listening to some SikTh, Between The Buried And Me and latter-day Cynic (minus the vocals of course) - just to get a bit more of a courageous attitude - wouldn't harm either. And after all, there's no reason to believe that instrumental progressive music cannot work in 2009, even for young bands - just take the Animals As Leaders debut for example.
In the end, Azure Agony has nothing to worry about though. Dream Theater's debut wasn't exactly the band's most innovative work either. These guys only have a bit more homework to do before they can become of any significance in the progressive metal scene. The seed has been planted. What Azure Agony need right now are some fancy techniques for the right seed germination.
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