|Musical Style: Power/Progressive Metal||Produced By: Infidel Rising|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 66:25|
I am a sucker for any band to form a successful union of power and progressive metal, particularly those that place proper emphasis on the former (think anthem-like tendencies and the epic, classical & symphonic arrangements that go hand in hand) but do not stress latter to a fault (in terms of convoluted song structuring and unnecessarily lengthy track times). Many of the more immediately recognizable names to embrace both sides of the power and progressive metal fence include Symphony X, Kamelot, Fates Warning and Queensryche, while Sacred Warrior, Jacobs Dream, Balance Of Power and Oblivion Myth comprise those less known though no less able. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas based Infidel Rising deserves to join the previously referenced ranks from how it also captures the best aspects of the power and progressive on its independently released fall of 2015 full-length debut The Torn Wings Of Illusion.
Infidel Rising is the brainchild of Travis Wills, who grew up in Houston as a drummer prior to relocating to Dallas and realizing his calling as a full-time vocalist. Later joining forces with drummer Wayne Stokely (Millennial Reign, ex-Valentine Failures, ex-Pretty Boy Floyd), Wills spent the next two years rounding out the Infidel Rising line up, which began with the recruitment of guitarist Rafael Rivera (Parallel Dimensions) followed by keyboardist Aaron “The Doctor” Walton and bassist Daniel Almagro (Millennial Reign). With its roster set, Infidel Rising set out on its journey to create “progressive-power metal but with their own unique sometimes ethnic slant and lyrics that speak of power, truth, hope and change” (as taken from the groups press material).
Infidel Rising made a wise decision not to overdue it in terms of the progressive, with The Torn Wings Of Illusion material remaining fresh and vibrant as a result and not becoming cumbersome with repeat play, as can happen on occasion within the progressive genre. The key is the efficiency to the Infidel Rising songwriting, which lends to majority of The Torn Wings Of Illusion cuts to reside within five to six minute territory and only a couple ‘epics’ that approach the nine to ten minute mark. It adds up to a balanced track listing in which the technically intricate and creative side with subtle melody and the immediately recognizable in just the right portions.
Consider opener “Holodomor” in this capacity, permeating a precise but accessible front to back up-tempo inclining as galloping riffs and symphonic keyboards collide over a foundation of balanced double kick drum (credit Stokely in this capacity). Maintaining the expeditious leaning in an engaging package is “Power Of Goodbye”, mirthful with resonant verses (that taper to lushly done rhythm guitars) trading off with a more forthright refrain (which ascends in lofty fashion). Wills exhibits his soaring and classic tenor vocal style on both in cutting loose with several well-timed falsettos.
Slightly tempered but still heightened is “Reflections”. Starting to a fusion based jam opening, the song reflects a warm and inviting presence moving forward with its eloquently stressing of ornate keyboards and crescendos of affluent guitars. A keyboard and lead guitar duel carries things instrumentally. Likewise, “Finding Nevermore” proves outgoing but in an allayed package. The song draws upon an eerie backdrop of piano and orchestration in giving prominence to some portent qualities but also yields (and this is where its true strength resides) an understated melody grounded in the alluring feel to the refrain.
Taking a turn towards a slower but heavier direction is “Alive”, a solemn but brooding plodder in which hulking guitars crunch in and out of the mix as piano faintly dances in the distance. Impetus slightly increases for an imperious chorus aligning with the sober scene. “Exodus To Kadesh” also reaches for the ominous. The song starts to an otherworldly joining of violin and bass before heavyset guitars maneuver in, bottom heavy and unwavering its remaining distance with its dogged purpose but also hinting of melody of an abundant nature. Rafael Rivera highlights the tow with his implacable (and very adept) soloing abilities.
Albums title track begins the transition towards a more progressive leaning. “The Torn Wings Of Illusion” leaves the immediate impression of all out speed metal only to make an abrupt time change to a more placid heading as keyboards and relaxed guitars bathe its glistening verses. Impetus picks upon procurement of the galloping chorus. “Talitha Kourn” delivers time changes galore. It starts with the tight guitar harmonies at the front but also includes periodic thrash like riffs in addition to passages that yield a classical influence in addition to extended instrumental jam based moments. Willis extends and exhibits the full range to his voice (at his best he reminds me of Lance King with a touch of Steve Walsh thrown in).
A full on progressiveness is delivered by “Cloning Appearances”. The song flows naturally its nine-minute length, giving rise to a darker Symphony X like vibe as aggressive guitars churn throughout and graceful keyboards adorn the elegant scene. Distant melody enticingly rises above the complex milieu at hand. “The Great Discovery”, albums second epic at eleven minutes, proves a technical metal masterpiece. The song opens to ethereal piano and haunting vocals only to take a heavier tone the rest of the way, with generous stretches devoted to the group’s instrumental proclivity nestled between double bass driven verses and chorus that surges and impels immaculately. Albums most notable track in which the genres best would face great challenge to match.
Infidel Rising nailed it from a production standpoint. You will find not find the thinness that can plague independent releases, with guitars crisp and clean and keyboards highlighting without unnecessarily dominating. Lead vocals and lead guitar receive their proper place in the mix. Packaging gets the job done in encompassing a mini booklet with lyrics and detailed liner notes. Lone misgiving is that I wish the group had hired one of the better metal artists to handle cover art (Felipe Machado Franco, Jan Yrlund, Stanis Decker, etc).
Infidel Rising might not be a Christian band, but it does include the Millennial Reign rhythm section, while Wills, who composed the albums prose, thanks ‘Yahweh Yeshua Hamashiach’ in the liner notes. Lyrics are reflective of his faith, such as on “The Great Discovery” -
A silent agreement
A look, or nod or touch
Is the world you desire, it says so much
Don’t lose your faith
Don’t lose your ground
We have the power to be profound
- and “Alive”:
Death may become you
A holocaust may come
Just remember Yahweh’s Son
So glorious are His ways
He strengthens the weak and the lame
“Exodus To Kadesh” deals with Old Testament themes -
Believing all scriptures of darkness in truth
The lies of Sanhedrin abandon their truth
Let us run to the mountains of Jordan
Abandon society’s violence and lies
I, I am in this land
A foreign hand led to this land Kadesh
Share, sharing what I’ve read
The books of old led to this land Kadesh
- and “Holodomor” the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33:
The will to live is borne
Surviving through the storm
Families are torn
The brave will all be missed
But the shame of living now exists
Dignity, integrity, character
Innocence is list within, purity
Guiltless gone from my heart and soul
On The Torn Wings Of Illusion, Infidel Rising leaves little doubt as to its ability to form a successful union of power and progressive metal. The group proves adept in terms of both its technical licks and chops (the musicianship one expects of either genre is at hand) and songwriting abilities (enough intricacies and time signatures at hand but not overdoing it either way in the process). Fans of both the power and progressive metal scenes - not to mention any of the bands mentioned throughout this review - will find a lot to like in Infidel Rising.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “1932-1933 (Passacaglia)” (2:02), “Holodomor” (5:14), “Exodus To Kadesh” (4:53), “The Torn Wings Of Illusion” (5:39), “Alive” (6:25), “Reflections” (5:19), “Power Of Goodbye” (5:45), “Cloning Appearance” (8:47), “Finding Nevermore” (5:08), “Talitha Kourn” (5:34), “The Great Discovery” (11:39)
Travis Wills - Lead Vocals
Rafael Rivera - Guitars
Aaron Walton - Keyboards & Violin
Daniel Almagro - Bass
Wayne Stokely - Drums