Pinnella, Michael - Enter By The Twelfth Gate

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 185/SPV 085-40532
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:17:00

I've spoken to a lot of people about Michael Pinella's debut solo CD Enter By The Twelfth Gate, and the first thing they all said was how surprised they were by the style. Pinella is best known for his work on keyboards in Symphony X, so of course, everyone expected a strong progressive metal album, not a classical work.

Maybe it was just a lucky guess, but I wasn't at all surprised, and here's why: Extreme metal band Children Of Bodom's Janne Warman made a power-metal CD. Dream Theater's Kevin Moore is making spacey music on his own, and with Chroma Key. Spock's Beard's Ryo Okumoto released an album of songs with a strong pop orientation. Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess is producing CDs in a variety of styles - none of them metal. Power Metal kings Stratovarius' Jens Johansson's Fjaderlosa Tvafotingar is a rare masterpiece of jazz fusion.

The point is - all of these keyboard artists playing in metal bands produced solo albums that were very different from their home bands. And Pinnella's chosen solo direction is classical. Not pure classical, there are moog sounds and 'tron sounds and a few guitar and bass and drum sounds produced by his keyboards, but the style veers more successfully toward pure classical music than any of the others. And there is not a bar - not a note - of metal on this record.

There's a piano concerto in 3 movements, spread across the CD on tracks 1, 7 and 8. Try programming your CD player to run them one after the other - the 3 movements played in their proper sequence yield 10 minutes of a pure classical piano concerto complete with a sampled orchestral backdrop which is so realistic you'll have to listen carefully - several times over - before deciding whether it's real or not. Similarly, the "Scriabin Etude Op.42 No. 5" is Michael's rendition of an Alexander Scriabin piece. Scriabin was a Russian composer and a friend of Rachmaninoff, and like his compatriot some of his pieces were underpinned by heavily complex bass clef lines. Michael's deft handling of those left hand parts is a showcase for his musicianship and my only disappointment was that he cut it off after less than 2 minutes of what I remember as a 3 to 4 minute piece.

Opener "The White Room" may be the most complex piece on the CD, and certainly ranks as a personal highlight. The lead instrument is the piano but it includes huge swathes of very convincing orchestral sections interlaced with long lines played on a somewhat harsh sounding moog patch. The strong bass guitar and drum lines are also keyboard patches. So even though there wasn't a drumstick swung in anger, you can still hear the organic touch and it sounds so much better than programmed percussion. Closing track "Cross The Bridge" contains plenty of dark atmospheric sounds, with long synthesizer solos, and layers of piano, organ, bass guitar and drum sounds Not very classical in its approach, this one is more Wakemanesque or Emersonian - and you can imagine it being used as the soundtrack for a high energy horror flick.

Enter By The Twelfth Gate is 13 tracks in 44 too-short minutes of inspired compositions, flawless execution and rich music with a relaxed tension that will keep you coming back for more. I wasn't surprised that Michael Pinnella did something very different from Symphony X. I shouldn't have been surprised to find that it's a wonderful body of work that I played again and again for several days straight. File this one next to your Rachmaninoff CDs.

The White Room (5:23) / Edge Of Insanity (4:24) / Piano Concerto #1 mvt. 1 (5:11) / Enter By The 12th Gate (4:30) / Falling From The Sky (2:55) / Welcome To My Daydream (3:22) / Piano Concerto #1 mvt. 2 (2:26) / Piano Concerto #1 mvt. 3 (2:19) / Live For The Day (3:36) / Scriabin Etude Op.42 no5 (1:50) / Moracan Lullaby (1:50) / Departing For Eternity (1:24) / Cross The Bridge (4:55)

Michael Pinnella - keyboards, everything

Symphony X - Symphony X (1994)
Symphony X - The Damnation Game (1995)
Symphony X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (1997)
Symphony X - Twilight In Olympus (1998)
Symphony X - V - The New Mythology Suite (2000)
Symphony X - Live On The Edge Of Forever (2001)
Symphony X - The Odyssey (2002)
Enter By The 12th Gate (2004)
Symphony X - Paradise Lost (2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: March 6th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 472
Language: english


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