4.5 out of 5 Stars!
A few years after the turn of the century, while investigating new Progressive bands on the Scandinavian music scene, I happily stumbled upon two terrific groups that had a similar style. The first was Ark, an act out of Norway that included the exceptional vocalist Jorn Lande. And the other was Andromeda, a band hailing from neighboring Sweden that had just re-released its first album after having replaced all the original “demo” vocals with fresh ones performed by its newest singer, David Fremberg. Not only did I fall in love with both vocalists, but also both bands, seeing as how all the musicians were awesomely adept at their craft and had produced albums of such high quality. Therefore, whether fairly or not, Ark and Andromeda are forever linked in my head, not only because I discovered them on the very same day, within minutes of each other, but because their styles were so similar, and their material shared that “amazing factor” often lacking in the Progressive Metal genre.
Unfortunately, after releasing only two albums between 2000 and 2001, Ark had already disbanded by the time of my discovery. But thankfully, Andromeda had not, and since 2001 has released a total of five albums, with The Immunity Zone (the band’s fourth release) being my favorite among them…although the other releases aren’t too far behind.
Here, on compositions such as “Another Step,” “Slaves of the Plethoria Season,” “Shadow of Lucent Moon,” “Worst Enemy,” and “Recognizing Fate,” the band delivers wonderfully complex arrangements, each instrumentally impressive, thanks to stellar soloing and riffing by guitarist Johan Reinholdz and keyboardist Martin Hedin, plus the ultra-dynamic rhythm team of bassist Fabian Gustavsson and percussionist Tomas Lejon (also a member of A.C.T, another of my favorite Prog-Rock bands). Moreover, the presence of Fremberg as lead vocalist ensures each track is highly melodic and the band is instantly recognizable.
It is, however, the inclusion of the final track, the seventeen-minute “Veil of Illumination,” where the band shows creativity far superior than most every other band in the genre. On a 5-Star rating scale, this track alone would earn at least a 10, simply since the musicianship is wholly breathtaking. On this epic tune, each band member fully showcases his individual skills, and during the song’s instrumental middle section, with the insanely monstrous guitar and keyboard solos and the magnificent rhythmic play that would likely make musical geniuses like Frank Zappa and members of the legendary Gentle Giant plotz in wonderment, Andromeda provides an impeccable example of what the Progressive genre is all about. Any musician who dares to dabble in the Prog-Rock universe needs to experience this track at least once in their lifetimes, and when lacking inspiration in their own work, experience it again and again. Simply stunning!
Therefore, with such an accomplished singer and the presence of slamming musicians who seriously know their business, Andromeda is undoubtedly one of the best bands in the genre. Each album is an enjoyable foray into Prog-Metal territory, with The Immunity Zone (thanks to “Veil of Illumination”) being a full-out journey into melodic, rhythmic, and scoring inventiveness!