Chaos Frame – Another Life (Self-Released)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

A tip of the cap to Datis Alaee of the Warriors Of Metal Festival/Farvahar Records for recommending this recent progressive metal four piece to my ears. Another Life is the debut album from this St. Paul act, firing out some heavier riffs and an endearing melodic overtone while still bringing forward thinking parts and arrangements to the table. Comparisons will always be inevitable, and while I hear some keyboard/guitar sequences that could liberally pay tribute to Symphony X and Dream Theater, I do think some of their rhythm section parts are darker and more original than their contemporaries, especially within “No Answer” where the bass plays a counterpoint to the speedy Andy Xiong/ Matt Hodsdon twin axe parts and solos.

A future star in the making is the multi-octave power and passionate voice from Dave Brown. Those of you who go back to the mid 90’s with acts like The Quiet Room and Psyco Drama along with the soaring nature of Michele Luppi (ex-Vision Divine) will be sending pumped fists and loud cheers to his work in personal favorites “The Good Fight” and “Predamned.” Musically, Chaos Frame also follow a similar grab bag of inspiration, sometimes cornering images of late 80’s Iron Maiden or the Italian progressive contingent, other times gravitating to the time signature manipulation of their American contemporaries. In some of the quieter moments of the album like “Becoming The Past” there is a Queensryche overtone, then in the mid-section you’ll get some carnival-like big top themes that really prove Chaos Frame are out on their own original limb.

The 19:20 epic title track concludes the record. It may start out tranquil, but by the 1:35 second mark the marching double bass and uplifting guitar sweeps make you feel like you are off on a battle charge. The song runs the gamut in terms of mood and emotion, sometimes darker and death oriented vocally, other times with bright chords and killer harmonies. My favorite sections including the Iced Earth triplets rolling over Brown’s occasional operatic highs (5:30-5:44), the high pitch guitar picking against the bells and keyboards for the instrumental transition (7:18-7:52) and the tension filled piano/guitar/ rhythm underpinning where drummer Steve Bergquist throws down all sorts of speed fills and tempo tricks (12:45-14:10). Even in shorter opening sets, I hope this song becomes a fixture of their set list for years to come.

I know the ProgPower converts already have this one in their collection – this should be a certain purchase for all progressive metal fans in any part of the world.

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