Master of the Universe: Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon

Having spent more than two decades developing the Progressive Power Metal and conceptual universe of Ayreon, creator and visionary Arjen Lucassen recently celebrated the very best of his project by releasing a live album and DVD. The Dutch multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter spoke to Ghost Cult about the grandiose Ayreon Universe (Music Theories/Mascot Group). Continue reading

Viathyn – Cynosure

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I think it says something about me that the phrase “Progressive Power Metal” ranks considerably higher up the list of music I’m interested in than “mates band” does – though let’s face it, mates bands are usually shit. I’m not quite sure what it is that it says (other than “shit taste, nobber”), but it’s always with enthusiasm that the triangle of play is hit on an album of that ilk. It also says something about Progressive Power Metal that it is quite possibly the uncoolest of uncool subgenres to date. So uncool it hasn’t even become cool through its uncoolness.

If you consider that insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results (Wikipedia can’t make its’ mind up if Einstein or Franklin should be attributed the source quote – it was probably neither) then the white coat is being sized up for me right about now, because by now that wave of enthusiasm should really be a cynical mistrust. Because it’s rare. Rarer than a 20 year old buxom beauty queen genuinely loving a rich octogenarian with a dodgy ticker that the potential and promise of Progressive Power Metal actually delivers.

There are two traps Progressive Power Metal bands fall into – being overly prog but without fully understanding the dynamics and nuances of the genre and end up boringly noodling with some helium-vocalled loon in a flowered shirt thinking he’s the reincarnation of Michael Kiske. Alberta, Canada’s Viathyn avoid that trap with consummate ease. Phew. But don’t wipe that brow just yet, because, no, they dive headfirst into the other trap… That they’re actually a Power Metal-lite band who love a bit of twee, and the prog bit is a misnomer. Have they never seen Spinal Tap? Those “folky” bits…? Stonehenge more like it.

With one metallic bear-trap having wrenched their first leg off, they’re soon left without a leg to stand on, as the jaws of trap two snap down thigh high (obviously catching the nadgers too, cos this is fucking testicle-less) as there is very little that’s vaguely memorable. Part of it is because Tomislav Crncovik is a vocalist as unremarkable and indistinct as the music he writes, but in the main because the album is a loop of double bass drums and inane leads  interspersed with underwhelming vocals and less dynamic movement than a dead fish. Though ‘Countess of Discordia’ and ‘Three Sheets To The Wind’ at least have choruses that differentiate from the verses.

Look, Viathyn can clearly play blah blah blah… Who cares? Their album is boring and uneventful. And I like this sort of stuff. Get A Sound Of Thunder‘s latest instead. Also, if you’re self-releasing an album through Bandcamp at least put some fucking band/album details on there, will you?

 

4.0/10

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STEVE TOVEY