ARK - Burn The Sun

Year of Release: 2001
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD075
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:47:00

If you have been following the events and surprises of progressive metal recently, you most definitely have heard the name, and chances are good you already know that Burn The Sun is one of the most hyped releases of last year. That's right, Norwegian act ARK has been seeping into the foundations of the scene's fandom for a while now, and the effects are now being felt like shockwaves running across the world. Not altogether an incomprehensible phenomenon, as the band has integrated itself into the recent elite of groups that have brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the genre and thus garnered the attention of critics, fans, and musicians worldwide.

And the hype's origins are immediately obvious after listening to the album and the accessibility that has trickled down all the way from the more "commercial" background of its composers. Relying less on constant technical wizardry and odd-time signatures than many of its peers, and yet providing enough complexity and brains to keep everyone but the most blockheaded of chops addicts happy, ARK has recorded an eleven-song collection of catchy hooks, awesome choruses, killer solos, and cool surprises that work well most of the time, and not surprisingly. After all, the work of these musicians at one time consisted of writing good, accessible, memorable songs, and despite the fact that all stylistic and time constraints have been thrown away by now, the knack for a good old melody still remains.

Of course, good old melodies do carry the danger of cliché with them, and Burn The Sun does not escape unscathed, falling into a few pits that keep it from being a landmark recording in the world of progressive metal. "Just A Little," for instance, seems to struggle constantly between genius and blandness after opening with a wonderful flamenco-flavored acoustic guitar solo and delving into a spicy verse before falling apart with its more Latin pre-chorus. Even then, however, the album is so chock full of searing instrumental work, nifty samplings, and sometimes blistering vocal work that comes across as half Ronnie James Dio and half David Coverdale with a slight hint of Bruce Dickinson thrown in, that it is just correctly crafted to please the metal masses.

Because there are several moments across the record that are pure and unbridled brilliance, justifying the impact that these Norwegians have had and the hopes placed on them for the future of progressive metal. "Feed The Fire" is simply palatable in its straight simplicity and Jorn Lande's heartfelt vocal delivery, "I Bleed" and "Missing You" are touching in their emotional reach, and "Heal The Waters" features a mid-section duel between guitarist Tore Østby and keyboardist Mats Olausson that sounds as if though Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord were taking "Burn" into the new millennium!

A great constituting part of this appeal is the band's perfect taste for arrangements, which even brings the record's less-than-memorable moments up a notch or two and works as a perfect counterpart for the flawless instrumental teamwork that may very well represent ARK's crowning achievement. And although the hype placed upon Burn The Sun during all these months surpasses the reach of the album, and the group is certainly not without its weaknesses, this is an enjoyable effort from a band that has achieved its very own sound; something that not many bands pull off within this type of music. Perhaps the critical success of this effort is due to that, or to the fact that the prog metal crowd sometimes seems a bit too prone to embracing genius and cliché in very much the same manner, but few will disagree on the fact that ARK is a good thing for what some years ago seemed to many a hopelessly lost movement.

Similar artists: Conception, Black Sabbath (Dio era), late Crimson Glory

Also released by Favored Nations (FN2160-2) in 2002

Heal The Waters (6:37) / Torn (3:51) / Burn The Sun (4:34) / Resurrection (5:31) / Absolute Zero (5:05) / Just A Little (4:36) / Waking Hour (4:15) / Noose (5:03) / Feed The Fire (3:56) / I Bleed (4:03) / Missing You (9:04)

Jorn Lande - vocals
Tore ?stby - guitars
John Macaluso - drums
Randy Coven - bass
Mats Olausson - keyboards

Ark (1999)
Burn The Sun (2001/2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NO

Added: July 1st 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 889
Language: english


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