Fragile Vastness - A Tribute To Life

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Sleaszy Rider
Catalog Number: SR0042
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

When does an album become more than the music? When do the lyrics become more than just words? A Tribute To Life, the new album by the Greek prog metal band Fragile Vastness, answers those questions and proves an album can be much more than the sum of its parts. An album with this level of emotion and a sad, yet poignant message is a rarity in the music industry and delivers the goods in a huge way, both musically and spiritually. You are young and healthy and you have just been told you have less than two months to live. A Tribute To Life is a 2-disc concept album that follows the last two months of a man's life after he learns he has a fatal form of cancer. Anger, disbelief, crushed faith, denial and finally acceptance are all covered on the album's 17 tracks with skillful playing and a soulful touch.

The main character eventually sells all of his possessions and decides to satisfy is lust for travel and go places and see things he always wanted to while he can. This journey brings out the true strength of the band, their ability to use so many worldly musical styles and borrow from many genres to create a truly inspiring mosaic of multicultural songs. As our character travels the globe, the styles switch off depending on what part of the world he finds himself. Here you can find Peruvian chants, flamenco guitar, mariachi guitar and several varieties of middle-eastern music. There are several guest musicians on this album bringing in and expanding on their international vibe. I think I heard a sitar, violin, clarinet, saxophone, maracas, timpani drums, pan flute and several additional instruments I am not knowledgeable enough to identify. This mixing of styles can draw in listeners from all walks of life and from all musical influences, but the foundation is clearly built on progressive and symphonic metal.

The band clearly displays its musical chops on the opening instrumental, "Where Everything Began," with its grooving guitar riffs and absolutely crushing drum and rythym section. Normally, an opening instrumental sets the tone for the remainder of the album, but this is probably the heaviest track on here and grabs hold of you instantly. This is followed up by a spoken interlude by another character that becomes the most touching and heartfelt moment of the entire album. The album is about half songs with vocals and half instrumentals and interludes and all are important and meaningful segments of the story. The first song with vocals and the one they chose to make a video for, "Somewhere," is a ripping and dynamic example of softer, introspective music mixed with aggressive guitar and keyboards. Although the band draws on countless influences, they also pay tribute to a few bands who are pioneers of the genre, Fates Warning and Pain of Salvation. Vocalist George Ikosipentakis absolutely sings his guts out and brings the somber, angry and hopeful words of this disc to life with equal fervor. The Ray Alder style of singing cannot be ignored here, but he brings his own range and style to the table. His ability to switch gears between screams and softer whispered parts is perhaps only rivaled by Pain of Salvation singer Daniel Glidenlöw. The emotive quality of his voice brings to mind a combination of Entropia and A Pleasant Shade of Grey, a difficult task to be sure, but one he is more than equal to.

The overall sound of this album is absolutely huge and crystal clear. Bass player, musical composer and main producer Vangelis Yalamas successfully mixed and combined these countless musical elements and created a deep, satisfying sound. Every instrument, no matter how small a part, is audible and made an intricate piece of this progressive pie. Guitarist Alex Flouros makes the most of this broad musical opportunity by displaying a classy, aggressive style combined with a subtle soulfulness when he goes acoustic. His strength is definitely in his versatility and ability to handle complex and ever-shifting styles. The musical picture is fleshed out by the hauntingly beautiful and often heavy keyboards of Evi Katsamasa. The Kevin Moore influence is apparent as they both have an atmospheric, yet integral part in the songs. There really is no guitar or keyboard wankery going on here as every note is played with meaning and has a purpose. The drums of Babis Tsolakis are, quite honestly, lethal in their precision and sound. You would normally find this kind of drum and snare sound on a heavier, maybe death metal album, but it works very well in this format and plays a large part in the delivery and impact of the songs.

Taken as a whole, A Tribute To Life is not an album you listen to, you experience it. Much in the same way you become immersed in a movie, you need to set aside time and go through both discs of this album. While some of the songs become a little vague in their meaning in the later tracks, overall this is one of the tightest concept albums I've ever heard. There is a second booklet explaining the story and fleshing out the individual tracks. The songs can be enjoyed by themselves without any further reference, but to fully understand and feel this album, it needs to be absorbed in its entirety. A Tribute To Life has set the bar pretty high for future concept albums, and with its international vibe, adds new meaning to the word progressive. More than most, this album has a message. This is about a man who does not start living till he knows he's dying. Out of the darkness comes a light, and out of Greece comes one of the best progressive metal albums in years.

Disc One: Where Everything Began / Maya's Diary/ Somewhere/ Ya Va Illegando El Dia/ From East To West / Failte Rombat A Chara/ Love And Loss / Help / The Sun Shines For All Of Us

Disc Two: Heart Of A Lion / Gaia / Renaissance / I Want To Do Something That Matters / Going Down/ Coma / Don't Wake Me Up Till I'm Dead / Maya

George Ikostpentakis - vocals
Alex Flouros - guitar
Vangelis Yalamas - bass
Evi Katsamatsa - keyboards
Babis Tsolakis - drums

A Tribute To Life (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin GR

Added: January 5th 2006
Reviewer: Scott Pierce
Artist website:
Hits: 1529
Language: english


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