Envy - Sweet Painful Reality

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Crucial Fiction Records
Catalog Number: CF101
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:24:00

Envy is a duo consisting of Niko on vocals, keyboards, drums and programming and Thomas on guitars (since replaced by John, and supplemented by second guitarist Michael). The music that results is palatable, melodic, gothic metal with dark themes - not unlike The Church. Reading the credits, one learns that Niko, who wrote all the material, has not had much luck in the relationship department (or at the very least, in keeping with the themes of the album, he suggests as much). Sweet Painful Reality is the result. Mainly due to a lyric in the opening track "Snow," -- "such a bleak December" -- I thought of a heavier, darker Cairo ("Silent Winter" coming to mind). Because the music is gloomy, so is Niko's delivery, often downplaying and darkening the edges of his delivery. If you are a fan of the more lyrical aspects of Dream Theater, and even James LaBrie solo, then you will find much to your taste with Envy. Niko doesn't sound like LaBrie exactly, but like LaBrie, Niko has a rich voice, equally able to hit lower notes along with the higher, though there aren't too many high notes (LaBrie, incidently, is not among Niko's stated influences). But also, keyboards are very much present in the mix; in "Indulgence" (and elsewhere) for example, they take on a very piano-like quality. During "Endure" there is an equally lyrical guitar solo that sounds to me a bit, ahem, Rothery-esque. All this is played with chugging and grinding guitars, and punchy drumming. Real drums, by the way, and you can tell. No, I think the only programming comes into play with some of the background elements - synth washes and atmospheres.

Picking out a few songs to highlight is a challenge, as there is something that could be said about each. Gloomy though the music is, there is something very appealing about the results. The arrangements are tight, and even though none of the songs keep to "single" length, there isn't the sense of anything being padded in any way, not even the album. It lacks filler... there is even something very haunting by hearing Niko sing "you are my sunshine, my only sunshine" on the hidden track in a very sparse and atmospheric setting. Any one of the album's 10 tracks could be a single, however; they have that kind of feel.

Sweet Painful Reality is a strong debut that is both hauntingly beautiful and, for the most part, tragically depressing... but in a good way. Since it is something that can break even the best of albums, it is another plus that this album has terrific production values. Quite good and engaging stuff.

Snow (6:09) / Indulgence (6:39) / Endure (6:02) / Pulse (6:02) / Just One More Kiss (5:59) / In The Twilight (6:47) / When It's Over (Let Me Linger) (6:54) / Oh Little Girl (7:05) / Raining Like Water (6:58) / Of Heavenly Blood (7:16) / (You Are My Sunshine (hidden track)) (4:06)

Niko - vocals, keyboards, drums, programming
Thomas - guitars
Gannon Kashiwa - additional guitar lead (3)

Sweet Painful Reality (2002)
Epyreal Progency (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 19th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.realmofenvy.com
Hits: 1032
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]