Suspyre - A great divide 3.5/5

Reviewed: 6-1-07





Tracklist:

1. Forever the voices
2. The singer
3. The spirit
4. Galactic backward movements
5. Manipulation in time
6. Resolution
7. April in the fall
8. Subliminal delusions
9. Bending the violet
10. The piano plays at last
11. Alterations of the ivory
12. Blood and passion


Suspyre's debut 'The silvery image' (from a few years back) is a very good progressive power metal CD, but unfortunately it's a bit unfocused, as it contains some excellent power metal songs but they're surrounded by a few creative/progressive-like songs that, in my opinion, are at a poor (average at best) level. Honestly, I skip a few of the songs on that CD whenever I listen to it, and that's something I rarely do with my CDs. Still, I've always been impressed with a good portion of the debut and I was curious to hear the band's 2nd CD, 'A great divide'.

Well, I have both good news and bad news; the bad news (speaking as a power metal fan) is the band has decided to pretty much drop their power metal side and focus on progressive metal. The good news though, is this really works for them and 'A great divide' is an improvement over 'The silvery image' as far as quality. Plus, this is one of those CDs that could appeal to power metal fans, as there is some speed and power metal-like riffs/rhythms do pop up from time to time. The CD is very symphonic, has some neo-classical moments (like the debut), and overall, Symphony X is the best comparison. I know there are a lot of major power metal fans that also like Symphony X and those fans are urged to look into 'A great divide'.

Besides being a more focused CD (when compared to the debut), 'A great divide' is a lot smoother, contains better/consistent songwriting, and it's more melodic as well. There are some outstanding saxophone parts too; in the slow track 3 "The spirit", the lengthy instrumental track 4 "Galactic backward movements", and they are also present in track 11 "Alterations of the ivory". This extra instrument adds something fresh to the CD and is brilliantly incorporated. My favorite songs are track 2 "The singer" and track 7 "April in the fall", as they are easily the catchiest. Vocalist Clay Barton sings a lot on these 2 songs too, and his somewhat rough delivery really fits them.

Despite my praise for 'A great divide' thus far, there are a few flaws with the CD, but I must warn you, they have a lot to do with personal taste. Firstly, the CD is too long (over 70 minutes) and I could easily do without some portions of the CD; track 5 "Manipulation in time", as it's mostly instrumental and follows the almost 10-minute track 4 "Galactic backward movements" (which is an instrumental entirely). The acoustic track 6 "Resolution" does nothing for me, and same with the highly symphonic track 9 "Bending the violet". Both of these are short instrumentals (interludes), but are unnecessary on such a long CD. Also, the last 2 songs, track 11 "Alterations of the ivory" and track 12 "Blood and passion" (which total about 15 minutes), seem to drag on and I find myself looking forward to the CD's end. Secondly, I wish the CD was more song oriented and contained more of Clay's vocals. Sure, it's an amazing musical experience if in the right mood (and accepting of the lengthy running time), but I don't find this to be a very memorable CD with standout sing-a-long songs.

In the end, I do feel like 'A great divide' is a success, but I think the band would have succeeded with this 2nd CD regardless of whether they chose the power metal path or the progressive metal path. They obviously have the talent, and although I've expressed a few complaints, this is a recommended CD and certainly add one point to my rating if you love progressive metal.



CLINT




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