Thoughtsphere - Eden's Shore


Year of Release: 1998
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:54:00

There was a disc floating around over the last year or so by this band, and I believe the name of it was something akin to The Grailkeeper's Gate. I'm not sure if it's the correct title, [yep -ed.] but I do know that no one seemed to know about this band. That's a sure indicator that either the music is less than average, or that the band will surely fade into oblivion. No true prog metal fan would let something remotely good slip through their eager fingers, so when the disc came and went without a mere mention of it, I pretty much wrote this band off. Now they've come up with a new release, and just by taking a look at the artwork and song titles, you'd automatically assume that there just might be something good on the inside. With titles like "Emerald Dusk," "Ivory Moon," "Seal Of Thorns," there has to be something to this disc, so I bought blindly and with only a mere hint of a listen of a song over a phone. Unfortunately, while there are some moments to the disc, I think that prog metal fanatics will be disappointed overall. Not because the talent is not there, but the "metal" in prog is pretty much removed from what was anticipated.

THE STYLE:

This sounds about like what Rush would sound like playing prog rock. If you've ever heard of the Neo-Progressive band called Everon, you'll hear hints of this great band around, but mixed in with a Rush-ian style of prog rock. It's a strange combo indeed, making it quite interesting in theory, but ultimately falls a bit short in the excitement department. The music is quite epic at times, as indicated by the song titles, but there isn't much heaviness to go with that epic sound to appeal to prog metal fans. The guitar / keyboard driven sound favors the guitars in overall lead sound, but they are not a heavy duo, and it sometimes sounds like the sound that Alex Lifeson might get on his guitar only twice as much. There is nary a lead solo anywhere on the disc, instead the band opts to accent the epic style and lyrics by playing along side of them instead of overshadowing them. Dare I say I hear a hint of Saga in the music, but that band is so diverse I couldn't really pinpoint which disc this one comes close to, but some of the vocals remind me of the Saga singer mixed in with the Everon singer. So, let's suffice it to say that this could be a combination of progressive rock music, only because it is lighter than metal, with hints of Rush, Everon and Saga, which gives an interesting combination of music. It doesn't come quite close to the talent level of those bands, but the influences are there.

THE BAND:

Consists of twin guitars, bass, vocals and drums. Keyboards are performed by an additional player and there are some female backing vocals (although minimal). There are two guitars, but not in the traditional sense of a twin guitar attack as prog metal goes. They sound like some sort of an Alex Lifeson influenced style, not heavy, and playing strange combinations of notes along the way instead of just plain chords just like Lifeson does.They are more of a melodic sound and a vehicle to carry the music, not to stand out as individual instruments. I am not a bass fanatic, but from what I am hearing, the player has to be very good to play progressive music like this, and at times has a bit of a solo part in various songs like Geddy Lee used to use as fillers for parts of a song. The drummer is quite good, not needing any amount of speed or Zonder-type talent to pull off what he plays, but he is very good. The keyboards are limited to accenting the music, for atmosphere only. Some of the synth choruses used as pretty effective in bringing the epic sound forward and there are sound effects here and there throughout the disc to bring the song forward in parts.

THE VOCALS:

If this disc was a great prog metal disc musically, I believe that the singer would be the make or break factor for many, including myself. While he is not a bad singer, he definitely tries too hard to sound dramatic, and the Everon singer comes to mind instantly. The Thoughtsphere singer, Andreas Lohse, has a pleasant, mid to low range voice, but constantly tries to accent it with a dramatic style as if he were singing in a Broadway play. His voice does not fit in with that style, and it does become a bit overbearing most of the time. I would imagine that if he tried singing without overdramatizing (unless he can't help it), that the vocals would fare much better. It may be that this is how he sings, and in that case, it's up to the listener to either love it or leave it. I can hear several singers in my mind, but I can't come up with the names just yet as to who he sounds like. The Everon singer comes to mind instantly, and maybe the Tubes singer? Anyone remember him? [Yes, Fee Waybill (or so he called himself) - ed.]

THE PRODUCTION:

It's big, there's no doubt. It was also mixed by the band, and it never ceases to amaze me what bands can do to come up with a great sounding disc. It is NOT impossible to achieve great sound without being on a major label, and tons of bands have demonstrated this over the years. Thoughtsphere can be added to that list.

Guitars - even though there are two of them, it doesn't really sound like two. It's more of a sound that resembles two guitars being played for more thickness, instead of individuals. While there are some interesting notes being played, there aren't many solos, and the ones that do show up are well played. The guitars aren't crunchy, and are used as the sound that drives the music, creating a thick, rich sound. They are clean and crisp in the mix.

Bass - Punchy and thick as well. Actually, there is a nice bottom sound to this disc, and it will rattle your speakers if given the chance. No shortage of boom here, especially considering the lack of heaviness of the music.

Drums - Again, nice sound. Clean, boomy in places, although the snare drum is a bit lacking; and for this style of epic music I'd like to hear a bigger sound in the snare drum, but overall this is a nice sound.

Keyboards - used for atmosphere only, and heard cleanly in the mix.

Vocals - A bit up front, and VERY clear. Unfortunately, the voice doesn't qualify for one that you would want right in your eardrum constantly, and the overbearing production on the vocals might be irritating depending on who you are. It's hard to complain about sound this good, so please bear in mind I'm just picking things apart. If it weren't for the accented vocals, I might be a little more flexible, but the music is just not that exciting as I would hope it to be, and the strange vocal performance puts this one out of range for my taste.

THE COMMENTS:

Overall, the band has talent. The sound is great. The music is epic, but it is NOT prog metal, and I caution anyone who is advised or has the notion that it might be. At best, it's heavier sounding Neo-Prog played Rush style, or Everon played with a Rush style. It's epic in parts, due to the heavy use of synth chorus, and the atmospheric style of the guitars. Do not look for heavy, crunching, bone rattling guitar here, because there are none. If you like Rush, or Everon, or want to hear what Rush might sound like playing Prog Rock or Neo-Prog, I'd recommend this, If you are looking for the next great prog metal band, this isn't the place to be swimming. "True" progressive music lovers should give this one a chance, as the band does have a lot to offer folks that buy up anything progressive, metal or not. Prog metal fans need to swim in different waters.


Tracklisting:
Eden's Shore / Unthreading The Weave Of The Stars / Seal Of Thorns / Grailkeeper?s Gate / Totenlicht / Reminiscing / Emerald Dusk / Ivory Moon / Winternacht / Candle To Remember

Musicians:
Andreas Loesche - drums
Jens Schaefer - guitar
Adrian Weiss - guitar
David Ludwig - bass
Andreas Lohse - vocals
Jan Ristau - keyboards

Discography:
The Grailkeeper's Gate (1997)
Eden's Shore (1998)
Vague Horizons (2000)
Gold (2001) (ep)
Eos (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

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

Hits: 722
Language: english

  

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