Ulysses - Symbioses

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Eclectic Productions
Catalog Number: ECL001
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:21:00

When I got hold of this release, the original cover design immediately caught my eye. Almost automatically I reached for the accompanying biography because I wanted to know all about this new band. Apparently it concerns the debut album of an up and coming Dutch prog metal band. As is often the case with this kind of band, the music tends to be OK but the singing seems to be the weakest link. I'm afraid to say this time isn't any different. Good musicianship, good playing throughout and interesting time signatures, but a voice that sadly doesn't fit the bill. For sure this guy has listened to a lot of metal albums and I'm convinced his wardrobe only consists of black T-shirts, but his contribution sadly works wrongly. Also on the opening track "World Of Confusion," Ron Mozer's synths are mixed too far away, putting all of the emphasis on Sylvester Vogelenzang de Jong's guitars (for sure a name to make it big in showbusiness!). I will gladly stress the fact that from a compositional point of view, this Dutch band delivers a surprisingly good album, but the vocal department sadly doesn't deliver the goods equally as well as the rest of the instrumentation. I know that everyone who contributes towards an album has always the best intentions at heart, but here Raymond Jansen has to admit that he "yells" instead of sings, whilst most of the times his phrasing and accents are wrongly placed. I simply can't believe that a band works together so well towards reaching a good result and then passes quickly over such a vital part of the end product. No one should be afraid to have "honest" discussions with every member of whatever band as long as these discussions have one thing in common: "aiming for a better end result!" Just listen closely to the singing during "The Script" where practically every single sentence has at least one major mistake where phrasing and accents is concerned and I rest my case.

It's not honest to go on and on about the singing jeopardising the rest of the band because the other guys certainly deliver a good job whether it's modest piano parts or intense guitarsolos. The interaction between guitar and organ during the intro for "Hero For One Day" works very well. Pity the atmosphere changes completely after that memorable introduction. "Watching Over You" is a wonderful ballad that includes real cello [that's cello and not chello as mentioned in the booklet guys!]. Again it's the singing that brings the level down to ground zero because from a musical perspective things really do sound very well indeed. It's mainly the understanding between guitarist and keyboard player that gives the trademark for this band, whilst I should also underline the splendid bass/drums build up. At times, like during the intro for "A Moment Of Insanity," I detect some Bach elements in Sylvester Vogelenzang de Jong's guitar playing whilst the song itself contains some Everon influences. The strings deliver a very strong melody.

As happened in the past with the band Andromeda, I guess the band's quest for a good singer should start now so that for their next album they finally get the line-up together they really merit, because I'm confident that Ulysses has enough talent to really make a big impression one day. But not as long as Raymond Jansen is part of the band. Sorry Ray but the truth has to be said! [Ouch ?ed.]. As an all instrumental album this would've been a damned good album. As things are now I'm afraid it will be depicted as just another debut album whilst pure enjoyment has switched to become downright torture!

Distributed by Cdistributions

World Of Confusion (9:04) / Disbeliever (6:58) / The Script (4:18) / Hero For One Day (6:38) / Watching Over You (4:03) / Unspoken Words (15:33) / A Moment Of Insanity (10:20)

Raymond Jansen - vocals
Ron Mozer - synths
René Schippers - bass
Ren? Van Haaren - drums
Sylvester Vogelenzang de Jong - guitars

Eclectic (2001)
Symbioses (2003)
The Gift Of Tears (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: September 22nd 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.ulysses-online.nl
Hits: 789
Language: english


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