4 out of 5 Stars!
I wasn’t sure what to expect when listening to the debut album from this five-piece Norwegian band. Would Rendezvous Point be yet another Dream Theater clone in the Progressive Metal genre?
Thankfully, the answer is no. In fact, the name Dream Theater didn’t even come to mind when listening to the album. Instead, Rendezvous Point offers a dark, heavy, and almost stormy version of Prog-Metal, which occasionally reminds me of bands such as early versions of Evergrey, Pain Of Salvation, or Anubis Gate. Although the songs, apart from one, are mid-length (falling somewhere between the four- to seven-minute mark), most seem to have an almost epic quality to them, full of dense orchestration of both guitars and keyboards, with melodies delivered with both passion and angst.
The album starts out with a three-part bang. “Through the Solar Storm” is a slamming track ripe with energy, quickly followed by “Wasteland,” then “Para,” all of them full and rich when it comes to the instrumentation. And as I mentioned in the above paragraph, the “dark and heavy” atmospheres are here in spades.
It’s only until we reach “The Hunger” where the band really starts showing its true diversity. Here, the arrangements start to really vary—some sections are ultra-thick and layered one moment, then sparse, light and (almost) eerie the next, providing plenty of surprises when it comes to orchestrations. This track also contains one hot guitar solo in the ending section and some of the most assorted vocal passages and melodies thus far.
At more than ten minutes, “Mirrors” is the longest single track on offer. A dreamy opening with a generally hypnotic rhythm leads into a monstrous heavy metal riff as the song-proper begins. Similar to the previous track “Hunger,” the orchestration on “Mirrors” is a complete thrill ride of multiplicity, with mood changes and rhythm shifts galore. Here each band member is truly given a chance to shine in various sections of the song, and the band also incorporates different sounds (mostly when it comes to the keyboards) as the song twists and turns through its complex arrangements. Make no mistake, this is one killer track—Progressive Metal at its finest.
For fans of the genre, however, “The Conclusion, Pt. 1” is probably reason alone to investigate this album. Here the band once again stretches its muscles, putting Prog-Metal through its many paces. A nice piano opening is the perfect accompaniment to a beautiful vocal passage, where the singer is able to display his full, commendable range. The song’s midpoint is again graced with some riveting vocal gymnastics, although by this point in the track, the orchestration is dense and driving, eventually crashing straight into “The Conclusion, Pt. 2.” Here the keyboardist is momentarily given another chance to grab the spotlight with both piano and other atmospheric synths before the vocalist chimes in with another intriguing melody. From here, the song just builds and builds, with the extra shuffling of various musical tempos and channels, until the main riff finally drives to an almost jarring conclusion. Quite breathtaking at times.
“Implode,” the album’s final “bonus track,” has an almost completely different vibe from the rest of the album. Yet even though it doesn’t quite fit the same mood as all the previous tracks, it’s nevertheless enjoyable, showing the band from another angle, and further displaying its talents.
About the only true criticism I have regarding this album as a whole is that the lead vocals could have been a bit louder in the mix, especially when the band is rocking out at its fullest. Sometimes the vocals seem buried, even when the singer is soaring over the top. Anyway, I would have loved to have his voice as crystal clear throughout the entire album as it is during the lighter (less densely populated, orchestration-wise) sections, such as the opening verse of “Mirrors” or “The Conclusion, Part 1,” as just two examples.
Regardless, apart from that one quibble, I feel Rendezvous Point shows great promise. If the band continues creating music in a similar vein for future albums, it could end up becoming a true powerhouse in the genre.