Eye Of The Storm - Eye Of The Storm


Year of Release: 1996
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 38:33:00

A long time ago, a spokesperson or someone close to this band sent me an e-mail describing what the band was all about. They told me that it was basically a one-man band, with heavy Fates Warning influences. I asked a vendor one day about the band, and I was told that it was an indy that pretty much sounded like an average indy with not a lot to offer. I shrugged the disc off at the time.

Recently, Mike Campbell sent me some samples from the disc, and I was hooked. Mike then sent me his copy (much appreciated my friend), and then re-ordered another one for himself. After spending a couple of months with this one, here is what I am hearing:

THE STYLE:

Very difficult to describe. I would have to say that it's sort of a "techno," synth-driven version of prog metal. The music is driven by synthesizers, but there is plenty of guitar work surrounding the music. I guess the best description I can give would be a New Age sounding, electronic, ambient, synth-driven style of prog music. Whether or not it can be called metal is really up to the listener, although I would guess that most would say no due to the lighter production which keeps the guitars from becoming too heavy. Lots of times, Conception's Flow comes to mind when listening to some of the songs, but I think this might due to the use of voice processings and synths a plenty on that disc as well. The music is nothing like Conception music though. I have to say that it's very beautiful in places, and New Age fanatics that like that style a bit heavier would do well here. There are 8 songs on the disc, 1 song being played twice and given an "extended guitar version." There are a couple of instrumentals as well, mostly synth-driven songs with the guitar accenting the sounds. It's an interesting mixture, because even though the main person in the band is the guitarist, and a good one at that, he seems to focus on the synths, sounds and ambience of the music rather than on his playing.

THE BAND:

Well, the band is not really a band, in a sense. It's the brainchild of one Chris Rifkin, who plays guitar, keyboards, programs the drums (yes they are programmed throughout), and writes most of the music here; about 38 minutes worth. The bass is performed by Mike Piccolomini, who doesn't have much of a part except for providing the bottom end of the music, and not being a heavy disc to start with, doesn't stand out too much in the music. Interestingly enough, the music doesn't seem too intricate, and the bass player doesn't have any strange lines to play, yet the music sounds progressive nonetheless. The rest of the disc is played by Chris Rifkin, who looks like a guy around 24-25, who had a dream and went for it. The music is nothing ordinary, or maybe I should say that the approach is nothing ordinary, because I can't think of another band that sounds like this. Chris is pictured holding a double neck guitar and from what I hear of it, he plays it solidly. The keyboards are what he seems to focus on, and there are plenty of interesting synth sounds to drive the music. It's an interesting approach to "electronic" prog music. The drums are all programmed by Chris, and they sound exactly like they are meant to, programmed. There's no mistaking that programmed sound, and it's apparent that it was meant to sound this way. Overall, the playing is solid, and quite different.

THE VOCALS:

I guess this is the part that initially drew me into the disc. The singer, Jeff Kimpland, sounds amazingly like the singer from Power of Omens, who, amazingly sounds exactly like Geoff Tate in his younger years. So, if you can imagine what a young Geoff Tate sounds like singing some electronic, synth-driven, prog music with programmed drums, then you have a great idea of what this disc sounds like. Jeff doesn't use much of his upper range, although it's quite high I'm sure judging from his tone. He stays within the limits of the song, and sometimes I find myself wishing that guys with voices this good would let loose once in awhile; and then other times I can hear why he stays within that range, as not to upset the balance of the song. Overall, the guy has an incredible voice, and adds even more beauty to this disc.

THE PRODUCTION:

Surprisingly good for basically a one man show. It's not that bottom heavy, and the drums are a bit back in the mix, but overall, everything shines in this recording. Not surprisingly, is the fact that the keyboards take center stage in the sound dept, with the vocals coming up from the rear fast. The guitars are a bit back in the mix, but I think this is intentional as it appears that beauty and subtleness come first with this type of music. My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that I wanted a bit more bass and punch to this, but I also understand why it's this way.

THE COMMENTS:

This disc probably won't appeal to metal heads, because of the lightness of it. It also won't appeal to prog metal heads for the same reason. Who will it appeal to? Neo-Prog fans looking for something a bit more heavy than what they normally listen to, or anyone else who likes an ambient, electronic sound in their progressive music, with an outstanding singer. Chris thanks John Petrucci in his insert, and I'm sure that Chris has progressive in the back of his mind all of the time, I just think that he wanted to try something different, and this disc is the result of that. Someone told me that this disc is Fates Warning influenced, and it couldn't be further from that style. This is more like a new Age style beefed up with guitars and a super singer. It's beautiful, proggy, interesting and different. Heavy power hitters need not apply here, and this disc won't change the face of music, but for something different, and we always want different, this one fits the bill.


Tracklisting:
Distant Storm (2:07) / Across The Third Dimension (4:56) / Cry Of The Dolphin (4:26) / Borrowed Time (5:20) / Shattered Fate (5:30) / Tranquil (4:01) / Itopia (4:33) / Across The Third Dimension (7:40)

Musicians:
Chris Rifkin - guitar, keyboards, programmed drums
Jeff Kimpland - vocals

Discography:
Eye Of The Storm (1996)

see also:

F5 - Dawn Of A New Age (2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Hits: 914
Language: english

  

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