Treasure Land - Gateway


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Modern Music/Noise
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:44:00

This was one of the most anticipated releases for 1998, and as I read other reviews and thoughts on the disc, I can agree to disagree on most of what is bothering the listener this time out. I believe that the production is bothering some this time out, but in a musical world where bands like Treasure Land don't get much support from their labels, if they are lucky enough to be on one, it's easy to get past some of these productions and get right to the music.

I won't ever forget when I was first introduced to Treasure Land a long time ago ... someone said I needed to hear this disc, and that I would enjoy it immensely. Little did I know at the time that it was Jonas Hörnqvist, guitarist extraordinaire for the band, that had written to me and suggested that I buy the disc. After doing some research, I was told by many that I would not like the singer in the band at that time, so I quickly dismissed it. I had written to Jonas advising him of this, and he politely wrote back and he assured me that the singing was not as bad as I thought, and that the music as a whole would win me over. Well, Jonas is a man of his word, and I quickly took a liking to Treasure Land's first disc, Questions. Apparently, Zenny, the singer on Questions was not a permanent member of the band, and they acquired a new singer for this new disc called Gateway. I don't like to compare a band's discs to each other as far as worth, because I believe that it is a band's duty and privilege to "progress" forward into their own music and be as diverse and interesting as they can without losing their signature sound, which I feel that Treasure Land has done on this one ..........

THE STYLE:

For those who don't know Treasure Land, their music is melodic, progressive, neo-classical metal with one of the finest guitarists on the planet. The difference between this band and other neo-classical bands is the fact that they don't just write some speedy, double-bassed songs and fire away at you the whole time. This band like to stop mid-stream, inject some jazzy, Latin, Classical, or other influences into the music at the blink of an eye, and then continue on. This is the interesting part about Treasure Land. Yes they can speed along with the best of them, and yes they can double bass you to death, but they chose not to, and inject their music with other interesting aspects along the way to keep the listener happy. On Gateway, the band seems to have sped it up a bit, in comparison to Questions, and again, it's not all speed and glory. There are a couple of ballads along the way, an instrumental, and more keyboards this time out, making this one, interesting disc. The music is crunchy at times, always melodic, changes regularly, and they really have mixed it up quite a bit this time out. In comparison to Questions, Gateway doesn't seem to be as "creative," but I believe that this is due to the band heading more into the "song oriented" approach than in the uniqueness approach. If you look at Symphony X's latest approach in Twilight In Olympus, in which they have gone for a more "song oriented" approach, this is the same thing that is happening with Treasure Land. The songs are a bit more accessible this time out, and whether or not it is label forced or self-induced, it works either way. They have managed to write more "songs" this time, without losing sight of who they are musically.

THE BAND:

It's no secret that Treasure Land is fronted by one of the best amd most underrated guitarists in the business, Jonas Hörnqvist. There aren't many comparisons I can make to him, except maybe in style or approach; but suffice it to say that if you like Malmsteen or Romeo, you have an idea of how good a player Jonas is. Not just your average, run of the mill, shredding, neo-classical player, he is well schooled in every other aspect of music as well, including jazz, blues, Latin influenced, Classically influenced and so on and so forth. He is not afraid to use these influences in the songs either, quickly separating the band from other bands that play this style of music. Considering how fast and accurate he plays, it will obviously take very talented musicians to surround him and keep up with his playing, and each member does this superbly. Most notably, is the drumming and bass playing, which somehow manage to keep up with him at every turn, and with ease. You get the double bass runs, but you also get the various styles that have to keep up with the guitar styles along the way. Suffice it to say that each member of this band is well schooled musically, and they can easily play just about any style that comes along. Through the speed, the ballads, the jazzy interludes, this band just takes it in stride and manages to maintain a nice cohesiveness without ever showing signs of stress. There seems to be bit more keyboard sound on this disc, some piano and some organ, but for the most part, the keys are kept well back in the mix for atmosphere only. The band is definitely guitar driven.

THE VOCALS:

Everyone was waiting to hear the new singer, and he certainly isn't a disappointment. In fact, he is very good. His name is Jakob Samuel, and he pretty much sounds like a cross between Sting (yes, you read that right), and their previous singer Zenny Gram. He has that Sting tonal quality to his voice, while somehow resembling the higher notes of Gram. Samuel is a mid-range operatic, and certainly fits the music well. He is able to keep up with the speedy tunes, as well as sing the ballads, once again showing that this band is certainly a versatile one. I have read some of the reviews and thoughts of others, and their major complaint with the singing is not his voice, but in some of the vocal harmonies along the way. I can agree that there might be a problem for some with the tone of the harmonies, but not enough to distract from the music. It would appear that the higher tones of Samuel differ a lot from his lower tones, and this is one of the problems that listeners are having from what I read. However, he does do a great job, and this is a very minor complaint, if it qualifies as one.

THE PRODUCTION:

This is the area that people seem to be having the most problem with. There is a distinct difference in sound between Questions and Gateway, in that Questions was a bit more clearer in the high dept, and the guitar and vocals stood out just a bit more on that disc. On Gateway, the guitars seem to have speed back just a bit in the mix, as has the drum sound, and this is where most people seem to have a bit of problem. Questions had that certain guitar "crunch" that prog metallers have come to love, and even though Gateway still has that sound, the mix is such that it doesn't have quite the impact. So, while the crunch is still there, the sound of the crunch is a bit laid back in the mix, and this is what people aren't hearing this time out. Also, the drums seem to have been out back a bit in the mix as well, almost equal to the guitar sound, and this combination may be what is ailing some listeners. However, it still is not enough to take away from the disc overall, as the music comes first, and it's really a matter of preference as to what it sounds like. The bass and vocals really stand out on this one, and it's very interesting to hear a bass run as clear as you can on this disc, considering the speed and style that Magnus Lind possesses. The vocals are way out front in the mix, as it should be, and my guess is that this was intentional, which put the other instruments back in the mix by default. Again, minor complaints, but each person hears what he wants to hear, and in the case of Treasure Land, the complaints are too minor to make any difference as the music is good enough to shadow these minor irritants that bother some.

THE COMMENTS:

Overall, Treasure Land has created a well crafted, interesting disc. If you like that neo-classical sound, but not so much as to bore you halfway through a disc, then this will be right up your alley. Between the ballads, to the speedsters, to the jazzy interludes and some of the instrumental jams, this is diverse enough to keep any prog metal fan happy that enjoys something different on each song. Standout tracks include "Where Tomorrow Will Remain," "Dreams Of Reality," and "Liar" ...... don't let the small complaints keep you from grabbing this one. Treasure Land is definitely rooted in the prog metal community, and they have come up with a fine disc this time out. Guitar god worshippers should pick this disc up for the pyrotechnics alone. I know lots of musicians are always looking for that next hero, or to gain some insight into aspects of others' work and Jonas Hörnqvist is certainly at the top of the list of someone to look to for inspiration.


Tracklisting:
King Of All Kings / Where Tomorrow Will Remain / Dreams Of Reality / Rendez-Vouz / A Winter's Night (instr.) / Heaven / Possessed (instr.) / Voices / Liar

Musicians:
Jonas H?rnqvist - guitars
Magnus H?rnqvist - drums
Kaspar Dahlqvist - keyboards
Magnus Lind - bass
Jakob Samuel - vocals

Discography:
Questions (1997)
Gateway (1998)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

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

Artist website: www.treasureland.nu
Hits: 742
Language: english

  

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