Lemur Voice - Divided


Year of Release: 1999
Label: Telstar-Skylabel
Catalog Number: TCD20002-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 74:04:00

If you're a Magna Carta band fan like me, or a Lemur Voice fan from Insights, or looking for some atmospheric, melodic prog metal that only draws from influences instead of copy them, then Lemur Voice's new disc Divided should do the trick for you. After being dropped from Magna Carta (big mistake in my opinion), the prog metal world wondered if this band would ever emerge again. Much to everyone's surprise, the band fires back with a 75-minute disc that is sure to please Lemur Voice fans, and gain some new ones at the same time. For some reason, it's not readily available and it would be a shame for the USA to have pay big bucks to hear this disc - I hope that the Telstar-Skylabel gets wiser and realizes that there are many fans here in the USA that have been waiting for this disc and would love to get their ears around this baby.

THE STYLE

Insights left a lot of people with the Dream Theater syndrome, and talk of "clone," "copy" and "rip off" was heard throughout the prog community, but there was certainly no denying that the disc was an excellent display of prog metal. Divided seems to hold onto the initial Lemur Voice sound, mostly due in parts of the atmospheric keyboards and same vocal approach. This time, the band seeks to head into more of an atmospheric style, injecting soft, melodic passages draped with keyboards, giving the guitar more time to shine - there is lots more guitar going on this time, and the listener will certainly be left mentioning the "guitar" word in their assessment of the disc. True to whatever definition of the word "progression" you live by, the band injects more time / tempo changes into this disc than ever before, and have certainly moved forward in their quest to add a "different" flair to their music. Adding strange musical sounds, injecting surreal sounding keyboards at every turn, and even throwing in some jazzy, New Age type sounds and riffs definitely amount to one, diverse disc. Believe it or not, song #10 is a cover tune of Michael Jackson's song "Beat It," and if you want to know how a prog metal band treats a song like this, I doubt that anyone could make that song sound progressive the way that Lemur Voice has. Of course, that certainly is one of my small complaints about the disc; I surely would have wanted to hear another Lemur Voice original than to hear a Michael Jackson tune, but luckily the band changes the style of the song so much you actually don't mind it being on the disc at all.

I'd like to narrow down the sound of the band to give an idea of what to expect, but the added surprises that the band has thrown in all over the place makes this a tough one to pin down. Let's say that overall it sounds like the song styles and some sounds of World of Silence, with that slow, crunchy, off tempo beats that they often use. When the band kicks into gear, I am reminded of a Mayadome approach, with a serious flurry of notes in the midst of warm melodies. In the soft modes, I am reminded of some New Age type music injected with some nice acoustic guitars, xylophone sounds, and a host of other "pretty" sounds that I don't quite recognize. The band often mixes all of these sounds and style within each song, so it sounds like you're getting 5 songs within a song - much like the way I describe the Mayadome approach. Overall, it's hard to even tell the songs apart because of the many time / tempo / song structure changes throughout each song. It's a prog lovers dream, no doubt about it and it's this mass changing amidst the beauty and warmth that should appeal to many a prog fan. It's heavy, soft, atmospheric, jazzy, crunchy, diverse, melodic, and more.

THE BAND:

Gregoor Van Der Loo / Voices
Marcel Coenen / Guitars
Barend Tromp / Bass, Chapman Stick
Nathan Van de Wouw / Drums
Franck Faber / Keyboards

The musicianship has always been the first compliment paid to this band in the past and this time is no different. These guys have cranked up the performance quite a few notches and have really put on quite a musical show this time out. First and foremost, the guitar performance is absolutely killer. Marcel Coenen has finally been let loose and allowed to do his thing - and that is put on a clinic. From heavy to soft, to metal, to jazzy influences, to off beat plucking and crunching, the guy seems to want to do it all here. Strangely, he doesn't have too many solos throughout the disc, but for some reason I don't seem to miss or want too many - the music doesn't warrant them and his diverse style of playing on this disc more than makes up for any monster solos that guitar heads might want to hear. His performance speaks for itself, and listening to him switch sounds and styles in the twitch of an ear really adds character to the music. Sure he has his parts, but mainly he is the driving force behind this massive wall. When he does get to solo, it's with beauty and emotion.

The bass player is in a league of his own as well, and can be heard putting on his own musical show in the background. This type of prog metal seems as though it would be the hardest for bass players to pull off, with it's never ending changes and having to augment the superb guitar playing, but Barend pulls it off easily. I don't see where any bass pedals were used, but that deep, long, bass echo reminds me of the bass pedals that Geddy Lee uses, and it sounds superb.

The keyboards are certainly used more for atmosphere and background than on Insights, but with more sounds than the human ear can recognize, Franck has his hands full to keep producing as many sounds as he does. Always present and effective, the keyboard really have a dreamy, surreal, New Age sound about them and gives the music the beauty it has.

The drummer also shines, and not only in the playing dept. Nathan Van de Wouw is credited with most of the writing of the lyrics to most of the songs, and what other well known drummer and major influence writes most of the lyrics for that 3-piece band? His playing is immaculate as well, and although he doesn't quite reach fury pitch, his drumming really accentuates the music, and he refuses to sit still for a moment. The interplay between the drums and other instruments meld incredibly well for music that seems to be so diverse yet so cohesive.

THE VOCALS:

Get ready to roll your eyes again and dismiss my writings once again for I do love the singing voice of Gregoor Van Der Loo - his voice sounds uncannily like Sting, and if you try to imagine what Sting would sound like fronting a prog metal band with New Age backdrops, you have an exact idea of what Van Der Loo sounds like. I'm a Sting fan by the way, and if you don't like Sting, it's safe to say that you will not like Van Der Loo. My only complaint of the whole disc, besides the Michael Jackson tune, is the vocal approach that Van Der Look uses. While his voice is more than pleasant and mixes with the music just about perfectly, his style is one of a single range ( he does go high briefly ), and stays within a certain, comfortable range while the music goes off on tangents in either direction. That is to say if the music takes off in a fury, his voice doesn't - it stays well put in the same tone and range as when the music goes into a soft lull. The other instruments build up into a fury and tone down into a soft, dream-like style while his voice remains pitched in one area. This bothers the senses of melody for me, and I'd like to see him reach up or down into these dips, plunges and hikes along with the other instruments to give my ears a sense of melodic completion. Most listeners won't experience this as most who have heard this agree that the singing is superb. Just my fox-like ears at work picking out any imperfections in the melodic deliverance of an otherwise perfectly executed disc.

THE PRODUCTION:

Extremely clear, precise, sharp, everything you could ask for in a disc. Crunch, bass, clarity, it's all here. Every instrument is superbly mixed, with the possible exception of the drums which I will explain. The guitars and bass are equally placed in the mix and the crunch of the guitar can be felt, as well as the soft ambience of the mellow passages. It doesn't matter what the guitar is playing, it can be heard cleanly and precisely. The bass is nice and heavy, and the bass pedal-like sound that rattles my subwoofer adds an extremely low end sound to the music, making it sound even more Gothic and church-like than it probably was meant to be. The keyboards are mixed evenly - every sound can be heard with ease, even the small background sounds can be heard atop the massive wall of keyboard sound that wraps this disc in atmosphere.The vocals are where the production really shines. Van Der Loo's voice croons from your speakers, with plenty of well placed reverb and echo to accent his pleasant tone. If you've ever heard a Sting disc, you know that well placed reverb makes his voice burst with beauty and emotion, and the same applies here for Van Der Loo. The voice is placed just a bit forward in the mix, and with headphones on, his voice does dominate the overall sound. The drums sound clean and crisp in the mix - every cymbal strike and high hat strike can be easily heard over the music, and that's a feat considering the massive sound of this thing. My only bitch, and a common one for me, is that I wish the snare drum has just a bit more punch and oomph in the tone. It's nowhere near some of the nasty snare drum sounds I've complained about in the past, but in sound this big, it should be complemented with a huge snare sound, and for me, it's like a having a souped up Mustang without the horsepower to make it soar. If you're going to look the part, be the part. Other than that normal bitch I usually make, the rest of the kit sounds great.

THE COMMENTS

I hope that the future brings the United States an opportunity to purchase this disc without having to shell out big bucks for it. It would be a shame for a disc this good to beheld back by unavailability. This is a smorgasbord of melodic prog metal that every fan should at least have the opportunity to judge for themselves instead of having to rely on others lucky enough to have been able to grab this disc. It's a very diverse disc that should appeal to fans of prog metal that doesn't resemble one single band and contains enough diversity so that the "originality police" won't shredit to bits. Overall, it shouldn't appeal to the metal heads, and/or to those looking for some real heavy prog metal. This is for fans of melodic, atmospheric prog metal that like it warm as well as mixed up. I look at it this way - any band who is willing to put "Beat It" on their disc not only has huge balls, but also has the confidence in their own music to treat us to music that we would never want to hear from a prog metal band. If this disc gets out properly, it could turn some heads and shake some ears - and could be a winner for most prog metal fans.


Tracklisting:
Solilocide (5:52) / Universal Roots (7:42) / All Of Me (6:24) / Childhood Facade (10:45) / Parvedian Trust (5:06) / When The Cradle Cries (7:43) / Lethe's Bowl (9:45) / New Yanini (4:21) / Divided (7:39) / Beat It (5:05) / Sticks In Space (3:36)

Musicians:
Gregoor Van Der Loo - voices
Marcel Coenen - guitars
Barend Tromp - bass, Chapman Stick
Nathan Van de Wouw - drums
Franck Faber - keyboards

Discography:
Insights (1996)
Divided (1999)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: September 21st 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri
Score:
Hits: 973
Language: english

  

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