Ivory Tower - Beyond The Stars

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Limb Music Products
Catalog Number: LMP 0004 018
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:34:00

Although I find Germany's Ivory Tower to be quite good at what they do, in comparison to their countrymen Vanden Plas, or Brazil's Angra, or even Dream Theater whom they greatly emulate, they are rather average. All the moves are there, but that's what it seems like to me. Here is a band that knows what works in this genre and they use it. Maybe I'm a bit jaded by the tremendous energy I hear in Vanden Plas and Angra, and it isn't fair to call them average. But, let me explain where average sits with me. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is barely passable and 10 is stratospherically excellent, Ivory Tower get a 6.5, 7. For comparison, Angra would be, to me, an 8.5, 9, Vanden Plas an 8. At the other end, put Labyrinth at a high 4, low 5. Yeh, I think I've watched too much Olympic coverage. Ivory Tower do well with the compulsories, but their freestyle "routines" don't have the same kind pop that their "competitor's" do ... don't get me wrong, though, if I were asked to recommend top flight progressive metal bands, Ivory Tower, and their album Beyond The Stars, would certainly make the cut.

Vocalist Andr? Fischer sounds the most like James LaBrie, even down to his slightly nasal intonation. There were moments here and there where I though they were going to break into a classic Dream Theater track. Though, I notice that their keys are more noticeable in the mix than I think Dream Theater's are, but far less so than Vanden Plas or, say, Angel Dust. In this, I actually think their balance is better than the others' is.

The extended instrumental section of "Foreboding" is terrific, and all over the map. Though, it starts in somewhat routine fashion - pounding, machine-like drums, a military march on speed, which contrast between the more atmospheric keyboard section of the intro. The chorus is catchy with nice harmonies, and there was a moment right at the beginning when I thought the song was going to break into the first part of "Pull Me Under." Parts of that middle section are, oddly, more like Marillion than any prog metal band. The bass is way up, over rough edged but easy-going guitar lines. Actually, maybe the better comparison would be to Arena. It builds and builds back up to metal intensity where keys sizzle like violins, guitars grind like ... well, I can't find a suitable analogy - like a circular whiplash. There is a bit of chorus toward the end where Fischer made me think for split second of Ozzy Osbourne.

There is some interesting, dark, metallic percussion at the end of the balladic "Game Of Life" that did make me take notice, filled with atmosphere.

The album also includes a new version of "Treehouse," from their first EP. In scanning the lyrics to this one, aside from the treehouse (and a few other details), this plays like a scene from Star Wars - Luke coming back to his homestead seeing his aunt and uncle dead (though here it's his parents, and he doesn't see them dead, they just are). Because this image popped into my head, a line like "I'm watching sunset's beautiful horizon..." recalls Luke doing the same thing (though earlier in the film). The song has nothing at all to do with Star Wars, of course. Here the protagonist is trying to recapture the security of his youth - signified by the treehouse. If we have traveled a wayward path, returning to the start allows us to try and take another - metaphorically, of course, as the oft-heard phrase "You can never go back," is true. The song is much deeper than this, though...or perhaps it's what of yourself you read into it.

Also released by SPV USA (085-31882CD)

Silence (6:52) / Secret In Me (6:04) / Foreboding (11:50) / Game Of Life (3:53) / Peeping Tom (5:02) / Beyond The Stars (7:26) / When Thoughts Are Running Wild (5:54) / Flight Into The Self (6:03) / Treehouse Theme (1:21)

Andre Fischer - vocals, percussion
Sven Boge - guitars, keyboard programming
Stephan Laschetzki - bass
Thorsten Thrunke - drums
Stephan Machon - keyboards

Victim Of Time (1996) (As Ax'n Sex)
Ivory Tower (1998)
Beyond The Stars (2000)

Genre: Progressive/Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: September 30th 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.ivorytower.de
Hits: 963
Language: english


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