Ion Vein - Reigning Memories

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Majesphere Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:00:00

When it comes to American metal bands, especially those considered "progressive," there must be a curse placed upon them. It says that any band who continues to make great music, release a second disc, play as many shows as possible, and interact with their fans on a regular basis, must endure tons of lineup changes, eternal hunt for a big label, and generally fight to get their sophomore release to the awaiting masses. That pretty much sums up the life of Ion Vein. Towards the late 90's, Ion Vein emerged on the metal scene and made quite the impression upon such festivals as the now defunct Powermad shows, and Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles shows, along with tons of local shows. In 1999, their debut disc Beyond Tomorrow was released. While it didn't quite match the power and excitement of their energetic live shows, people wanted more from this band and knew they had it in them to come up with "the" sophomoric release they were capable of releasing. The band endured many lineup changes since then, took quite the time to release this disc, and hired the hands of Neil Kernon to produce the disc.

Some people call Ion Vein melodic metal. Some call them power metal. Still, others will scream prog / power metal. I call them melodic metal with an 80s flavor injected with a prog sound from the 90s, if that makes sense. Utilizing the twin guitar attack, and hardly any keyboards, the band generally assaults the listener with melodic metal, adding a twist of progression, and incorporating the soaring, Geoff Tate-like vocals of Russ Klimczak. Reigning Memories is filled with aggressive guitar work, non-stop drumming, high pitched vocals, and wonderful melodies. Well-played solos dominate the disc throughout the melodic songs, yet never boring the listener or dominating the song. The songs typically are mid-paced, yet some do head into a speedy style but for the most part, songs are kept to simplistic forms except for more cerebral songs like "Adrian's Ladder," "Twilight Garden" and others. Check out the use of saxophone on "Twilight Garden" (talk about taking chances and winning). The similarities to Queensrÿche that many make with Ion Vein mostly comes from the high pitched vocals of Russ Klimczak, who does on occasion sound more than just close to Tate. At times, it would be hard to tall the two apart although Russ does have his own sound and style for the most part. Ion Vein certainly draws from the 80s metal sound, including some Fates Warning influence, mixed with some of the progressive styles of Queensrÿche, and then incorporates their own warmth and sound into the mix.

The productions between their first release Beyond Tomorrow and Reigning Memories is certainly worlds apart, thanks to Neil Kernon taking over at the sound helm. He has certainly brought this band alive on disc, yet has also given them a "colder" sound at the same time. While I personally hear Ion Vein as a "warm" band, this time out they have a colder sound. The production is a more "dry" sound than a fat, wet one. This is a rawer, aggressive sound and I imagine that to bring out the drums and make the guitars more aggressive, it had to be this way. On the downside, while the sound of the band was certainly boosted, the raw sound tended to make the disc feel a bit on the "cold" side. It's a trade-off for sure, but there is no denying the heaviness of the disc and the separation in sound is phenomenal for sure. Placement of instruments is precise and clean, while the vocals shine through crystal pure.

Overall, this disc certainly allowed Ion Vein to make a statement in the metal world and reach a lot more fans. As of this writing, Ion Vein has since found a label to release this disc. To quote the band:

"We have signed a two album deal with the UK's Now and Then Records!! The first part of the deal will be the release of Reigning Memories in Europe and the Far East in late August/early September and we couldn't be more excited! Label president, Mark Ashton, has been a big fan of the album for quite some time now and we're very happy to have Now and Then behind us so we can finally reach a wider audience. Stay tuned for more details as things develop."

This is a great leap forward for the band, and as we wait for more Ion Vein music, the band continues to play shows, interact with their fans, and keeps waving the American Metal Flag. Definitely a band to watch out for.

[This review originally appeared August 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Awakening (0:54) / Another Life (6:00) / Spiral Maze (5:46) / The Power Of You (5:13) / Faith and Majesty (4:57) / Edge of Forever (5:55) / Twilight Garden (4:35) / Reigning Memories (8:38) / Adrian's Ladder Trilogy Part I - From Inside the Mirror (6:23) / Part II - Timeless (1:34) / Part III - Every time it Rains (5:09) / The Future is Now (9:13)

Russ Klimczak - lead vocals
Chris Lotesto - guitar/keyboards/vocals
Chuck White - drums/percussion

Beyond Tomorrow (1999)
Reigning Memories (2003)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: November 28th 2004
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri
Artist website:
Hits: 884
Language: english


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