[16th April 2013]
[Pitch Black Records]
02. Different Heart
03. Hymn to Loneliness
05. Such a Celebration
06. Leaking Wounds
07. Distant Similarities
08. One Single Sour Grape
09. …As the Old Turns to Sorrow
10. I, the Architect
11. Secrets in the Hallway
12. Crown of Shattered Dreams
13. The Green Flame
14. We Must Retaliate
15. Hopeless War
Reign of the Architect are a multi-national progressive metal band that came together in 2008. Originally started as a side-project collaboration by Mexican drummer Mauricio Bustamente and guitarist for Israeli progressive metal group Amaseffer Yuval Kramer, the group also numbers Israeli singer Yotam Avni of death metal band Prey For Nothing, who wrote the basic storyline for what would turn out to be their debut album Rise.
The group emailed ideas back and forth until it was time to record in 2010. To fill out the lineup, the group recruited several well-known and respected metal musicians, including bassist Michael Lepond (Symphony X), as well as guest musicians in keyboard player Joost Van Der Broek (Ayreon), highly regarded Israeli jazz fusion guitarist Assaf Levy, and the legendary Jeff Scott Soto (Yngvie Malmsteen, Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) to perform on certain tracks. Reign Of The Architect’s first album was delayed due to the inability to find a label to release it, but finally it has seen the light of day. What could have been a disappointment instead was revealed to be a truly gripping, cinematic work of symphonic progressive metal.
Rise is a sci-fi concept album of some sort. According to Kramer, the story is an “allegory of the powers that rage inside the human soul”, dealing with the subjectivity of things such as good and evil, and right and wrong. In accordance with this duology, the music on this album falls into one of two categories; either slower dramatic and mournful, or heavier bombastic and angry. Both are done in a very cinematic fashion, and combining influences from Latin, Middle Eastern, European, and jazz fusion traditions into one melting pot of progressive metal riffing.
After a symphonic intro, the album opens, interestingly enough, not with a high energy song as would be expected, but with a waltz-type song, and then a ballad which starts very minimal and then turns into something more dramatic for the finale. The song “False” has a heavy, desperate feeling, and is a very powerful metal song which descends into a very surprising but very fitting jazz fusion-esque solo. The song also ends with an almost-ragtime piano section, which nicely contrasts the rest of the song.
There are three vocalists featured on the album: Davidavi Dolev, Tom Gefen, and Denise Scorofitz – and this is one of its greatest strengths, as each one is given parts that perfectly suit their range and sound within the music. It adds an amazing amount of dynamicism and variance to the album.
There are also a few guest vocalists to add even more to what Rise has to offer. The singers are given specific characters that are important to the concept to sing. Most appear throughout, as the concept demands, but Jeff Scott Soto makes his mark on only one track: the brilliant “We Must Retaliate”, the second single release from the album. Members of the Israeli thrash metal band Dark Serpent appear on the final song, “Hopeless War” as soldiers, and also making guest appearances (and acquitting themselves wonderfully) are Joost Van Der Broek (playing a keyboard solo on the first single release, “Distant Similarities”) and Assaf Levy, who provides guitar solos on “False” and “As The Old Turns To Sorrow”.
Musically, the rest of the band is excellent. The guitar, drums, bass, and keyboards all sound fantastic and work very well together. Guitar-wise, the riffs in the more metal moments are strong, flowing, and cohesive. The bass parts, half of which are played by Michael Lepond who replaced original bassist Kyle Honea when the latter was unable to continue, are their own entity not just following the guitar. Lepond is a fantastic bassist, one of the best in progressive metal, and it shows here.
Rise is three acts and fifteen songs long, running at 65 minutes. It is not long for progressive metal record, but it does occasionally feel like it drags a bit. All the songs are within the four to six minute range, and contain enough variety to keep things interesting for the most part, but the back half of the album is less interesting than the first half. The first seven songs are brilliant, while the next nine have a few shining moments, namely “We Must Retaliate” “Crown of Shattered Dreams” and “Hopeless War” among others, but are generally a little less remarkable. It is also the first part in a planned two part saga. No word on when the second album will be released, but one can hope it will be just as good as this one.
Reign of the Architect have created a fantastic work of progressive cinematic metal for their debut. The variety of sound showcased, and the strong composition and musicianship along with some great guest musicians make this an excellent addition to any progressive metal collection. It is very well-produced and has some very thoughtful lyrics. Rise is definitely one of the top progressive metal albums of the year so far.
Best songs: “Distant Similarities” “False” “We Must Retaliate” “Different Heart” “Leaking Wounds”
Recommended absolutely for fans of Kamelot, Ayreon, Devin Townsend, Pain of Salvation