Ion Vein - Beyond Tomorrow


Year of Release: 1999
Label: Majesphere Records
Catalog Number: 79901-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 35:23:00

This band has the distinction of coming from nowhere and bursting onto the metal scene and taking listeners by storm. Starting with their incredible performance in August of 1998 at Powermad, Ion Vein also has the distinction of being the first band at a Powermad festival to be called by back for an encore by the fans. This was not normally allowed at these shows, but the overwhelming response brought them back for more. Maybe it was the intensity of their playing - the brilliant performance by the singer, Russ Klimczak - the incredible twin guitar attack - or was it the warm, melodic songs engulfed wrapped in a powerful metal attack? Probably a combination of all of these qualities that made this band one of the surprise hits of Powermad. In the following months, the band produced a demo, and then this disc shortly after.

THE STYLE:

Ion Vein plays an 80's style melodic metal injected with a fresh 90's approach if that makes any sense. While the band has its roots squarely placed in the 80's style of melodic metal that Crimson Glory became famous for, Ion Vein takes those qualities and injects their own brand of melody and power into the music making it sound fresh for the late 90's. The music is fiercely driven by a twin guitar attack, but not in the normal approach that most twins follow, but rather the guitars in this band feed off of each other, trading rhythms and leads, creating a thick, full, rich sound that some bands lack when using this dual approach. The guitarists also use a lot of acoustic interludes throughout the disc to give it a softer, melodic sound (think back to Crimson Glory's "Transcendence"). While the basic style of metal is a streamlined approach and not very complexly arranged, the guitar interactions and trade-offs keep the music interesting and fresh; it's quite easy to hear the different riffs and chord passages that each guitarist is playing - and both guitarists like to mix it up as well as complement each other with the same guitar passages. Very little keyboards are used, with Chris LoTesto (one of the guitarists) providing some string intros, but for the most part the band is driven by guitars making it all the more interesting that the sound is so warm without an overuse of keyboards. If you remember how SIAM made their music so melodic and interesting without the use of keyboards, you get the idea of how this band operates as well.

THE BAND:

Russ Klimczak / vocals
Chris LoTesto / guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
John Malufka / guitars
Brian Gordon / bass, backing vocals
Scott Lang / drums

I'd have to say that the standout player here ( and strangely enough for me ) is the drummer, Scott Lang. Having seen this band live, I can honestly say that Scott was one of the best drummers at Powermad hands down. Coming from me, who usually notices singers and keyboard players, to say that a drummer really caught my eye and ear is saying a lot. Although his performamce can't quite be caught on disc as in a live performance, you will get the idea of his capabilities from the disc. The music is not arranged so that he has a lot of strange time and tempo changes, he takes what the musical arrangement allows and puts his own touches to it. Both guitarists are better than average, and they concentrate on their rhythm playing more than showing off with shredding and monotonous leads, but their efforts are put into complementing each other and trading off riffs to drive the sound rather than to try to outshine each other. Both play with conviction and emotion, something lacking in a lot of bands with twin guitarists these days. The bass player, Brian Gordon, has the task of not only having to keep pace with one guitarist, but two and he handles the task with ease.

THE VOCALS:

Russ Klimczak was easily one of the highlights at Powermad all by himself. Sporting a Midnight / Geoff Tate style, range and emotional voice, Russ is one of those gifted singers that you wish you sounded at least a little bit like. His normal tone is a mid-range, melodic, operatic vocalist, but lots of times he spends a lot of time in the upper stratosphere, and he has no problem hanging in this range for any given amount of time. Suffice to say, if you like that high pitched, operatic style like Midnight, you'll like Russ's voice. I do have some criticism though - as singers have always been my make-or-break factor in sticking with a band or not. While Russ has a great voice, he does try quite hard to sound, or should I say, pronouce his words almost too much in the style of the famous 80's singers. His pronounciation is very distinct, and if this is his normal speaking style, I stand corrected, but the words seem a little forced at times, almost as if he was deliberately trying to sound more like Midnight than he already does. In addition, I noticed a few times when he sounds like his voice is getting away from him and he needs to control it a bit more. How I explain that, I'm not sure - it's as if his voice is going faster than the music and the instruments are trying to keep up with him by speeding up the tempo of the song and this produces an unnatural sound to the ear, at least in my case. This is certainly an opinion, and not taking anything away from the great voice that he has. I'm sure that in time, Russ will progress into a household name in the metal world.

THE PRODUCTION:

I was afraid that when I heard the demo of this disc, that the band would fall into the category that many unknown bands fall into that aren't signed by a major label, and that was a bad production for the sake of releasing a disc. Fortunately, the band is way ahead of the game and they came up with a very good recording of the disc - which is worlds ahead of the demo disc. Of course, the guitars are right up in the mix as should be, with the vocals and drums sharing a superb mix. I'd have to say that no instrument suffers from this recording. The bass is thick and punchy, and the drums are clean and full in the mix. The vocals are exactly where they should be, and dare I say that Russ was placed just a hair higher in the mix for obvious reasons ? ;o)

My only complaint with the mix is that it's a pretty "dry" mix, void of any effects, additives, fancy echoes or reverbs, and at times sounds a bit "plain". Lots of bands these days are opting for that "natural" sound, trying to sound every bit like they do on stage, and in Ion Vein's case, that's not a bad thing, but some of the translation of the power and effect is lost from the stage onto disc because of this, but it won't hinder the listening enjoyment.

THE COMMENTS:

If you are a melodic metal fan, and especially one that enjoyed that Crimson Glory sound from the 80's, then Ion Vein will be right up your alley....... This is a very enjoyable disc, and if you do get a chance to see this band play live, by all means do not miss it, as their performance on stage will absolutely floor you. Again, and for obvious reasons, some of the power translation is lost on disc, but the disc is very well done and gives a great indication of what this band is all about live. I do have a small complaint about the disc, and that is that it's only a 35:00 disc, and in the late days of the 90's when 60 minute and above discs are common place, we would hope that a great band like Ion Vein would give us another 20 minutes, but I'm sure that (as always) finances played a large part in dictating how long the disc would be. However, that aside, this disc is a must for melodic metal fans, and I recommend it. I'll bet a huge amount of money that the next time around is going to be a monster for these guys - they are constantly out honing their skills and with the experience they've gotten from this disc, and with the recognition they've gotten in a short time, it's only logical that their next disc is going to be something even more special.


Tracklisting:
Horizons (1:48) / Reflections Unclear (4:23) / Fading Shadows (5:38) / Heart Of The Matter (4:40) / Static Vision (4:06) / The Bridge Of Dawn (5:51) / Here Today Gone Tomorrow (4:01) / Beyond Tomorrow (4:56)

Musicians:
Russ Klimczak - vocals
Chris LoTesto - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
John Malufka - guitars
Brian Gordon - bass, backing vocals
Scott Lang - drums

Discography:
Beyond Tomorrow (1999)
Reigning Memories (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: May 28th 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.ionvein.com
Hits: 1131
Language: english

  

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