The Art of Loss
26th February 2016 – Metal Blade Records
01. The Art of Loss
02. Slouching Towards Bethlehem
04. Hope Dies Last
05. That Golden Light
06. Thirty Silver
07. The Center of the Fire
08. Love Reign O’er Me
09. At Day’s End
Mostly known as the side-project of Fates Warning vocalist Ray Alder, L.A. progressive metal band Redemption have put together some fantastic albums over the years, including their self-titled debut and 2005’s The Fullness of Time. Their last album This Mortal Coil came out way back in 2011, and the band have been mostly silent, one live album aside, since then – at least until now, which sees the release of their first studio album in five years.
The Art of Loss is a pretty standard album in terms of composition; it’s progressive metal in the old-school style, and really does nothing to deviate from Redemption’s formula at all. It does, however, stand out more in terms of memorability; something that their last couple albums have really lacked. Songs like “The Art of Loss” and the fantastic “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” pack in memorable melodies and musical elements alongside a plethora of guest musicians, including Marty Friedman, Chris Broderick and Chris Poland - the latter of whom makes appearances on no less than seven of the album’s nine tracks. Each one of them acquits themselves well, elevating the album to new heights.
What takes The Art of Loss down a notch is Ray Alder’s voice. He used to be such a powerful singer with a fantastic command of melody, but age has clearly worn away much of his range and power. He can still deliver a great melody and he can still deliver on the emotional power on some of the more striking moments on the album – indeed, the standard Redemption themes of personal loss and the human condition are at their most impactful since The Fullness of Time, though with more subtlety, but while the likes of “Hope Dies Last” are especially well done, there’s no denying his force has diminished.
There are a few missteps, too: lead single “Damaged” is uninteresting aside from Marty Friedman’s guitar solo, and the less said about “The Golden Light” the better. In fact, the three worst songs on the album are the three shortest. Coincidence? Not likely! The third of the three songs, a cover of The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” features a pretty fantastic vocal performance from guest singer John Bush (Armoured Saint), but the cover itself is not great.
However, The Art of Loss is more win than loss. Redemption are talented musically, and have put together a excellent performances. Even Alder’s waning vocal abilities still come through strong in a few songs, and the inclusion of what seems like half of the guitarists Megadeth have employed over the year, as well as the vocalist for cult thrash heroes Armoured Saint, were good decisions that boost the staying power of this release. However, the brunt of the record does fall on the band themselves, and it’s pleasing to Redemption creating something solid, even if a bit behind the times in the progressive metal scene. The Art of Loss is absolutely worth listening to.