In the world of Progressive Rock or Metal you’ll seldom witness artist’s writing themes or developing concepts based on such lighthearted fare as – tending their vegetable gardens or communicating with the tooth fairy! No, it’s generally about the real heavy stuff, such as space travel, death, ghastly experiences or – The Apocalypse! On Angels Of The Apocalypse, “Mastermind” featuring guitarist Bill Berends along with brother Rich Berends on drums navigate the listener through a highly energetic series of pieces that might send your subliminal self on a one-way trip to the cosmos! The mighty Jens Johannson enhances the generally quadruple-time proceedings with blistering keyboard work while mezzo-soprano vocalist Lisa Bouchelle smoothes out the rather oscillating rhythms and complex yet generally melodic themes with her often breezy and succinctly stated vocals. Ms Bouchelle along with the instrumentalists perform on a plane that is undeniably a notch or two above most of their peers in the business.
The musicians launch this rapid journey with the 10-minute composition titled, “The End Of The World”. Here, Berends’ swift yet meaty chord progressions compliment Johannson’s whirling dervish-like manipulations and lead soloing behind the synths while Ms Bouchelle adds a delicate touch in commanding fashion and communicates the lyrics with near perfect diction! Throughout, Berends displays a multifaceted musical persona not to mention a well-versed knowledge of music in general as he often toggles between fierce lead soloing, flamenco style voicings on electric guitar along with complex jazz chord progressions. Throughout and besides the high impact ride, the band offers up strong and melodically memorable compositions in tandem with exemplary musicianship, which should keep most listeners on the edge of their lazy-boy chairs throughout the entire affair. And for the grand finale, the band renders a thoroughly magical and sharply arranged version of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s opus, “The Endless Enigma” which is only enhanced by Ms. Bouchelle’s cosmic sounding vocals that convey an aura of mysticism or alien soundscapes. Overall, Angels Of The Apocalypse is an impressive and well-orchestrated outing that might send tingles down your spine yet aims to entertain in rather grandiose fashion! Easily, one of the top progressive-rock releases of the year! Highly Recommended! - * * * * *
Bill Berends; Guitars, Midi-Guitar, Bass, Vocal: Rich Berends; Drums, Timpani & Percussion: Jens Johansson; Keyboards: Lisa Bouchelle; Vocals.