Antares - Choking The Stone

Year of Release: 2001
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: C8568
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:49:00

The main reason why so many so-called prog metal bands sound the same is because they start off from the metal end of the spectrum, adding dashes of keyboards and symphonic touches along the way, hoping the result will merit the prog metal label. In the case of the Dutch based band Antares, it works completely different. One can easily spot that these guys have started from the nucleus of the prog idea, kicking off with pure melodic and symphonic ideas. In the end, these become prog metal compositions because some heavily shredding guitars are added to make the complete sound more contemporary.

Singer/guitarist Han Uil certainly doesn't hold the patented prog voice, which enables the band to reach boundaries outside of the prog idiom. In "Ragamuffin Rag-And-Bone-Man," interesting percussive elements are added next to nice piano, which, again, is a combination you don't come across very often in prog metal. The main melody even flirts with a Celtic feel, blending, as it were, Big Country, Nightwish and Anomaly into a new whole. As said before, even though Antares' music contains heavy guitars, they needn't be all over the place, which is exactly what makes them interesting. Listen to Dream Theater, and although Petrucci flashes by more than once, you will certainly spot almost pure classical parts where even Portnoy is smart enough not to add thundering drums! "Letting Go" has kind of a funky groove with drummer Sander Zoer illustrating that he's technically well-grounded. Some baroque influences shine through Erwin de Weert's clavinet adding to "Ethnic Cleansing" that Rhapsody, Stratovarius, Royal Hunt feel. The main melody is very powerful with the hard sounding guitar on one side and the melodic one sounding like the answer. Again, there are loads of interesting breaks and changes to keep you on your toes. It's also a daring experience to stop all the music, let the keyboards play a little solitary piece and then resume the power. Great song!

Probably very few people knew the Dutch band Whistler Courbois Whistler, an instrumental trio that delivered some outstanding instrumental music during the early nineties. Listening to the oriental atmosphere of "Half Of The Mirror" certainly evokes the splendour of the aforementioned band, a superb underrated collection of extremely skilled musicians! A proof of the detailed mix can be found in "Circle Of Keys" where piano can be perfectly heard next to the powerful dynamics of guitars and drums. The album closes with the master epic "Choking The Stone" which is also built on acoustic piano before guitars once again set the pace for the song's "conclusion." You can even hear a bit of Led Zeppelin in the background before the idea switches towards Liquid Tension Experiment calibre material!

So, all in all, a very impressive debut from these five guys, with the perfect balance between long instrumental passages and nice vocal interplay. No doubt fans of the Magna Carta label and bands like Threshold, IQ and Pendragon will be pleased to include this shimmering disc in their collection. In the future, I hope the band will consider adding acoustic instruments and/or extra vocals to give their music even more depth. Hopefully their debut album will serve as the ideal calling card for a better deal because once these guys are given the full professional treatment, they'll certainly be ready to deliver one hell of an album. Record labels, you have been warned!

Ragamuffin Rag-And-Bone-Man (6:50) / Letting Go (6:28) / Ethnic Cleansing (5:33) / Half Of The Mirror (9:51) / Circle Of Keys (4:17) / Choking The Stone (12:33)

Han Uil - vocals, guitars
Klaas Pot - guitars
Gerwin de Weert - keyboards
Jeroen Spanjaard - bass
Sander Zoer - drums, percussion

Choking The Stone (2001)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: October 13th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1046
Language: english


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