Well, negative first impact aside, let me concentrate on what really matters, the music created and kindly provided by Robert Svilpa, Paraesthesia and their guests:
This is my first contact with this bands work, even if they are already releasing their sophomore with this A Fine Line Between…, but I was curious to be introduced to it as a consequence of my proggnosis fellow Marc, whom reviewed this bands debut a few years ago.
The album opens with an instrumental tour de force onto complex, hard prog arrangement, throwing the listener into a labyrinth of puzzle pieces that slowly start to fit together. The music flows from aggressive guitars to melodious keys and back to harsh guitars, in a way that, despite not completely metallic, do find some relations with Dream Theater’s Erotomania (for instance).
Introducing the vocals, the album becomes more interactive. The concept of the script is slowly unveiled, telling of a man’s mind that is somehow captive inside itself, as it witnesses the world around without being able to be part of it consciously. The character in this story talks mainly to its mirror trying to find answers in it or in substances that he takes. And the mirror answers him…
While the lyrics do tell a good, emotional and odd story (good concept), the music helps transposing the mind statuses into substance, leading the way and the listener through a sonic interpretation of those emotions: perplexity, anguish, confusion, rage and even pure lunacy. To this achievement, Robert’s music stays somehow in the crossroads of neo (Marillion, Twelfth Night, Opeth (on its Damnation release)), contemporary American sympho (Spocks Beard, Transatlantic, Cryptic Vision), Classic Sympho and Hard Prog (Kansas, Rush, Gentle Giant, Yes) and heavier stuff (Dream Theater). This mixture of sorts is done in a refreshing and vitalizing way, which enriches the result. The music enthralls itself in the story and in the several influences in which it found its muses. It is rich and complete, full of details (something that a good/experienced progger is always thriving to find) and shifts. In fact, the hugely developed dynamics of the music are perhaps the first thing that the listener will discover, as there is no complacency or pop-related stagnated philosophy in this album: the music is always evolving and changing, as a chameleonic suit for the emotional shapes that the self-imprisoned story character experiences.
A Fine Line Between… is an album that knows no boundaries in what relates to style, as it musical aesthetics never stand still on a particular genre. The music is melodious but in a complex way, always challenging the listener to accompany the directions it surprisingly takes.
Robert is here accompanied by some fine guest musicians, in which I would point out Nick D’Virgilio (an artist I particularly like) and Andy Edwards (of IQ’s fame). They seem to contribute not only with their excellent playing, but also with their own visions upon modern progressive rock (am I wrong, Robert?). This results on a very distinct, modern, focused and rich album of the purest progressive rock. A Fine Line Between… will definitely be fully appreciated by those who like the more contemporary interpretations of symphonic prog with a hard edge, and those who usually are into progressive metal but like the more progressive side of it. This is not metal related at all, it is simply a great creation of modern progressive music with a deep respect for the legendary vintage bands. A work of art!