Saturday, October 11, 2008

Andromeda - Chimera

Andromeda's third attempt at being a progressive band fails about as hard as Mickey Mouse in a knife fight with Jack The Ripper and Minnie Mouse in a rape scenario with the Boston Strangler. Instead of being a progressive band with a set of worthwhile songs ready to spread like the next sexually transmitted disease from your local college, Andromeda, content with leaving their only truly worthwhile release, Extension of the Wish, working double time without overtime pay, seemingly have felt safe releasing the next album to hailed by fans of musicians pretending to be the next breakout progressive metal band. The lack of balls in the album's tone, seemingly exchanged for a Fabergé egg production with a focus on NASA level precision and clinicality and slip-n-slide slickness, holds much of the album back - especially the good parts (there are no great parts) - This bland tone has inclined me to be more comfortable with categorizing Chimera as a prog-rock album instead of a progressive metal album. Yes, in Andromeda's search for the sky, NASA production has screwed them over.

David Fremberg and Martin Hedin, I'm convinced, ruin everything they touch. David Fremberg's would feel comfortable in a airy white button down shirt that cost too much dancing gaily with Martin Hedin belting out slightly more technically proficient Backstreet Boy tunes. I loved Andromeda when I heard the pre-Fremberg (Fremberg?) version of Extension of The Wish - Mackrory was nowhere near as talented a vocalist as David however when he unleashes in The Words Unspoken, I am hooked for some reason.

Sadly, Johan Reinholdz has really held back on the recent releases. You can tell I am a die hard fan of Extension of the Wish. Chimera is the perfect example as to Reinholdz's recent impetus to "focus on the song." The main problem with this line of thought is that, I never cared about how convincing the 'song' in Andromeda was... I just wanted to hear Johan unleash guitar leads blistering enough to compel Petrucci to suck his thumbs and Herman Li to desperately search for his diapers and pacifier. On the whole album, Only near the halfway mark of "Blink of an Eye" do you really get a taste at what Johan can do with his instrument. While prog-heads would sit in amazement at the density of the lyrical prowess and well defined (yet to my ears fairly straightforward) compositional structure, I find myself wishing I was listening to the energetic and decisively metal attack of the debut and, I must admit, moments of II=I.

Going Under is a perfect example of why this album bothers me - Bombastic keyboard / guitar lead transforming into an anti-climatic, boring and nu-metal sounding (uckk) verse. The song picks up whenever Johan is playing but he constantly takes a backseat to the rest of the less interesting instruments. Granted, Fabian Gustavsson's bass playing is impeccable and excellently performed throughout the album and Thomas Lejon maintains an excellent presence behind his Sabians and Pearls but the song falls flat on it's face, like much of the rest of the album, in terms of excitability. Throughout the album, I feel less like I am listening to the band who released a seminal album in modern progressive metal and instead, more like I am listening to every Dream Theater fan's wet dream.

But it can't be all band right? I mean, aside from some of the horrendous vocals on "The Cage Of Me," I find the track momentarily charming in a cute girl walking past me "Yeah, thats nice," kind of way. Though, Before the song is halfway done I'm running full speed to a Wendy's, searching for the beef. Opener, "Periscope," also contains one of the album's highlights. While not as intense, or memorable (I swear I've heard it before), or even catchy as the worst riffs on "Extension," the main riff is worthy of mention as one of the high points on the album and the chorus in "Periscope," a song which, I must mention, also gets my vote as worst titled song since Disemboweled's awkwardly titled "Sperms Flowing From Nun's Vagina" and until Necropedophilia's 2006 track "Grandpa Gave Me A Japanese Vaginal Expander For X-mas," actually retains some replay value - one of the only parts of this album worth listening to maybe twice. Maybe.

Bottom line - you've heard it all before - the clean guitar interludes, the underlying keyboard, the intricate guitar lines, the competent rhythm section doing everything right but nothing wrong, the production, the song content and lyrical direction, melodies and even the vocals. Its all better found in other bands doing more interesting things better - Time Requiem for one. I wouldn't call the album stale - it's edible. Chimera is that lunch you ate every single day of the year when you were in seventh grade and your school only served one meal which had just enough taste to create the saliva to get it down, but still tasted about as vivid as the cardboard you were dared to eat by your friends.

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