Redemption – I Am the Storm (AFM Records)Monday, 20th March 2023
The parameters within progressive metal have blurred over the decades. The infusion of diverse styles beyond the approach expands what can fit that definition – although there are certain artists upon immediate playback epitomize the intricate, full-force musicianship that put the style on the map. Place Redemption in that category, arriving at their eighth studio album I Am the Storm following the release of a double live CD/Blu-ray Alive in Color to tide over the faithful in the midst of COVID-19 during the summer of 2020. The quintet possesses the requisite experience/talent balance to infuse the songwriting with extra attack, incorporating elements of thrash, power, and modern/melodic metal beyond the obvious progressive foundation that keep the original songs enticing while throwing down a couple of intriguing covers in the process.
The powerful chord combinations plus tasteful transitions floating from the hands of guitarist Nick van Dyk (along with guest support from stellar axe masters like DGM’s Simone Mularoni, Evergrey’s Henrik Danhage, and ex-Megadeth’s Chris Poland) provide aural twists of fascination. Check into a Symphony X meets Rush fashion cut for “Remember the Dawn” or an alluring, jagged edged mood monster during the focused “Resilience” that says quiet a lot musically for an under five-minute arrangement (check out the killer fills and off-time snare/cymbal hits from drummer Chris Quirarte in the latter). Soothing keyboards / bass lead “Seven Minutes From Sunset” into another momentous, power-packed musical adventure, Vikram Shankar layering his piano/orchestration duties thoughtfully, opening landscapes for the majestic melodies of the unmistakable tour de force vocally that is Tom S. Englund. As strong as the shorter material is, Redemption also excels on the epic front – personal favorite “Action at a Distance” at 14:19 containing the lengthier instrumental passages, atmosphere shifts from heaviness to calmness, allowing all the players a chance to showcase their talent while never forsaking the necessary hooks, melodies, or dynamic tension to maintain engagement. The human existence lyrical output keeps things very relatable as well as personalized, something general listeners gravitate to easier than academic laden affairs. The main album contains the band’s interpretation of “Turn It On Again” from Genesis, given a bit of a heavier, broader makeover that works – while people who choose to get the digipak will enjoy Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain” as well.
If you enjoy a heavier stance on progressive metal where the aggression, tones, and attitude matter as much as the stellar compositions and musical dexterity, I Am the Storm continues the fully satisfying experience you’ll get from Redemption. Well done again, gentlemen.