I reviewed Seven Steps To The Green Door's previous album and was quite impressed by it. This one The Book, their third featured on ProGGnosis, has kept the positives of their previous but also shows that the band has progressed in the last four years. For one thing, their sound has gotten heavier, sometimes bordering on Metal Prog, even though in good part I still consider their music as melodic Neo Prog.
What impressed me the most on The Book is the production. Everything on this album comes out crystal clear, even on my Ipod and cheap earphones. The musicianship is also of the highest level. Even though this is a concept album, the musical styles vary quite a bit from track to track, going from Phil Collins' style ballad, to IQ Neo and finally to something pretty close to Dream Theater, sometimes all in one song.
The only slight revervations I have are with the lead vocals. Lars Kölher has a very nice voice, but his German accent (he sings in English) seems to come out a bit more than on the previous CD. English not being his first language, he also tends to make basic mistakes (like not putting the emphasis on the right syllable of a word). Since the vocals are high in the mix and come out very clearly, at times I had trouble not focusing on them. Also, the attempt at Death vocals (growls) are not conclusive (not everyone can be Mikael Akerfeldt), but gladly their presence on the album is very limited. Still, this should not stop you from enjoying this very good album, even more if English is not your mother tongue
In conclusion, The Book is a very good successor to Seven Steps To The Green Door's previous CD and, IMO, is superior to recent albums by comparable bands such as Sylvan, Arena or Poor Genetic Material, to name a few.