Kurgan's Bane - The Future Lies Broken

Year of Release: 2000
Label: independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:41:00

Being raised primordially on heavy metal, the United States and its erstwhile metal metropolises have always held a special place in my heart, as they once signified the existence of a much-reviled movement that I nevertheless have always cherished: pop metal (a.k.a. glam metal). Bands like Van Halen, Ratt, and Mötley Crüe were once to be found among the rulers of the music world and demonstrated that metal could actually be catchy and accessible for the masses, even if it meant that certain forces would try to bury its ugly face by using the insipid euphemism "hard rock." Meanwhile, acts such as Queensrÿche and Fates Warning were brewing the guitar-driven progressive metal of the eighties, Yngwie Malmsteen was bringing the term "guitar hero" to a new level with his neoclassical exploits, and Rush was bringing its sound into softer, more commercial realms. Curiously enough, the result of this equation was to surface years later, and in the rather unlikely location of Baltimore. Enter Kurgan's Bane.

The Future Lies Broken, the band's second effort, is a display of accessible progressive metal that lies on all borders, and is thus one of those curious exemplars in which all the band's conscious and unconscious influences are allowed to transpire without ever becoming too apparent or breaking the balance. It is definitely progressive, and yet reminiscent of many of the nooks and corners of eighties metal, allowing for a mixture that is uniquely Kurgan's Bane and holds an unusual sense of accessibility, something that is also evident on bassist Luis Nasser's other band (Sonus Umbra) but that is considerably accentuated here. Odd time signatures are set against soft clean guitar arpeggios, Pete Laramee's fiery guitar playing brings the intensity up a notch while Lisa Francis' vocal melodies give the music a hint of gloss, and both Nasser and drummer Jeff Laramee will at one point exercise some quick runs only to settle down the next.

The band's mix is therefore closer to the progressive approach of say, Rush, than to that of Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, or Dream Theater, and thus is fortunately far from the unending stream of unoriginal bands that have plagued the progressive metal scene these last few years. An occasional hint of neoclassical guitar is also thrown in for good measure though, and even comes fully to the forefront on the gorgeous classical guitar piece "Nap In E Minor," which nevertheless fits the rest of the album like a glove.

And all would indeed be perfect if it weren't for the album's two weakest links: arrangements and a thin production. Don't get me wrong; the music of Kurgan's Bane is not a disjointed hodgepodge of riffs, vocal melodies, switching time signatures, and blazing solos. There are, however, moments throughout the album where riff changes are too abrupt, or where the band fails to trim solos and song finales in order to give its tracks added impact. What in this case is remarkably inopportune though is the album's lackluster production, as it only serves to highlight these moments and accentuate the occasional lack of flow, which left me in oppressing doubt: giving the album only three frogs due to its very weak production, or giving it three and a half based on the potential of the ideas found in The Future Lies Broken.

And while the grade given might seem as too simplistic a solution for some, it was perhaps the only way to be fair to an album that in truth contains some great ideas, but which is sorely hindered by the lack of a professional sound and focus; something that many listeners expect from their bands. That considered, The Future Lies Broken is a record that would have benefited enormously from a better production, as it would have allowed Francis' vocals to glide more smoothly and the rest of the band's instruments to sonically merge into a decisive united front. As it stands, however, Kurgan's Bane's sophomore effort remains only as a testimony of existing potential, and as the expectation of a promising future that unfortunately could not be brought to full reality this time around.

Through the Camera (7:09) / Just Look at Me Now (6:35) / Warm Winter Nights (4:38) / Frankie Five Angels (4:12) / Headless Mice (2:30) / Feudal Tourniquet (3:50) / Nap in E Minor (1:18) / The Curtain and the Rose (4:56) / Bad Blood (5:44) / Regina (8:21)

Jeff Laramee ? drums
Pete Laramee ? guitars
Lisa Francis ? vocals
Luis Nasser ? bass, keyboards

Search From Sea To Sea (1998)
The Future Lies Broken (2000)
Camouflaged In Static (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: March 24th 2003
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.kurgansbane.com
Hits: 1517
Language: english


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