|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Cho Pil-Sung|
|Record Label: Evolution Music||Country Of Origin: South Korea|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 57:52|
Quo Vadis, Domine?, the most recent (fall of 2008) studio album from Jeremy, represents a joining of the old school (in terms of melodic metal and hard rock with occasional AOR touches) and the new (think a joining of melodic power metal and progressive metal). Yes, an engaging variety, but I am sure you are also asking yourself the following: Who is Jeremy? Good question. Hence, I felt it would be best to start the review by first addressing the bands background.
Jeremy, as it turns out, are veterans in the South Korea heavy metal scene, having originated in Seoul in 1996 and releasing six other studio albums: Open Your Heart (1996), Out Of Fear (1998), Flying Of Eagle (2000), Edge On The History (2002), Trivial Life (2003) and The 2nd Advent (2005). You will also find a pair of live albums, Live (1999) and Access All Areas (2004), an EP, Exodus Part II (2001), and compilation, The Very Best Of Jeremy (2010). One cannot complain about a lack of productivity from the group.
The relevant question, actually, revolves around the bands faith. Specifically, is Jeremy a Christian band? Rumors abound throughout the web, whether at various music related message boards, in which the same question has been posed, and even YouTube, where Jeremy has been labeled “Christian progressive metal”, but in terms of specifics it is anybody’s guess- so I felt a bit more research was warranted.
Starting with Jeremy’s music, obviously, made most sense; as a result, I purchased a copy of Trivial Life several years ago (the only CD from the band I could find at the time at a reasonable price). The spiritual warfare themed cover artwork (see below) hints at the bands faith as does song titles “Resurrection”, “In The Beginning”, “Adam”, and “The One”. Lyrics, frustratingly, are in the bands native Korean so I am unable to comment on specifics. But for those still in doubt additional clarification can be found in the form of the Exodus Part II EP, obviously a concept album based around the Exodus, which features songs such as “The Slave”, “Prince of Egypt”, “Moses Meets the Lord” and “Exodus”.
If you require further proof then check the lyrics to Quo Vadis, Domine?, which while roughly 97% Korean, include several English lines, such as the albums title track with the phrases “My Lord, please call my name” and “Quo vadis domine/This is my world/My Lord Jesus”. “Come Back” is even based around Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me/Because the Lord has anointed me/To preach good news to the poor/He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted”.
Yes, I will let you form your own conclusions, albeit there is a heavy influence, whether from a single band member or more than one, pulling Jeremy towards a Christian direction. I just wish more of the lyrics (and liner notes) where in English.
In terms of the music, labeling Jeremy “progressive metal” might be a bit one dimensional and limiting in that there is MUCH more going on here. Yes, the band can get very progressive, as it does on the highly complex “Jeremy VII”, in which it does the Dream Theater thing as well as anyone. Others such as “The Game” and “Yes” (two hard hitting tracks as you will find) and “Dream To Fly” (heading in the smoother and more melodic direction) are based upon a foundation of melodic power metal mixed with occasional progressive overtones (sort of like Magnitude 9, Balance Of Power and Lance King’s A Moment In Chiros solo release).
Otherwise, Jeremy invokes a sound inviting comparison to the classic melodic metal and hard rock sounds of the eighties. “The Life” and “Come Back”, for instance, are two high energy rockers that would do Stryper and Rob Rock proud, as does the radio friendly metal ballad “Tears II”. In between, Jeremy heads in AOR and melodic rock territory on “Again” and “Fly In The Wind”, two polished pieces making effective use of acoustic guitar, and the refined commercial ballads “Quo vadis, Domine?” and “Return”.
There is nothing to complain about in that all tracks are well constructed and worthy of repeat play- at least based upon my experience. That being said, Jeremy does get a bit too mellow for my taste at times in that including four AOR based tracks on an 11 song album can be a bit too much. Again, not a bad song here, keeping in mind I wish the group had replaced one of the four mellower pieces with another straight on rocker.
One of my favorite aspects to Jeremy is guitarist Cho Pil-Sung, who, in my opinion, deserves to rank with the top guitar heroes from the Far East. What impresses is his versatility, in that he can nail some heavy as it gets riffs for the albums more aggressive material but can also lighten things for the gentler touch of an acoustic guitar. Soloing wise, several tracks here, most notably “The Game”, “Dream To Fly” and “Jeremy VII”, feature lengthy instrumental stretches that allow him to showcase lead guitar that hints of Rex Carroll (passion and feeling), Tony Palacios (fire and feeling) and Oz Fox (heart and guts). Yes, very good company indeed!
Vocalist Mo Jung-Gil is another capable performer, although he is not quite on the same level of contemporaries Lance King, Rob Rock (Driver) and Corey Brown (Magnitude 9). Perhaps this is an unfair comparison because who is, right? Nevertheless, he does an all around solid job with a varied approach in which he can stretch and reach for a high note (consider the albums ballad based material) or deliver some mid-ranged edge and grit (check out the heavier songs here).
The overall feeling let is that Jeremy is a talented group that style wise refuses to be pigeonholed. This, in my estimation, is the reason we have so much variety on Quo vadis, Domine?, ranging from the all out progressive to piano based ballads. But it works in that the group refrains from presenting with any throwaways. Again, very little to complain about: An English translation of the lyrics and liner notes would have been helpful while I also would have liked to hear another heavier rocking track. Still, if interested in a quality metal and hard rock release then by all means check out Quo vadis, Domine?.
Track By Track
“The Game” ranks with the albums heaviest. The song hits hard and fast from the get go, upholding flurries of driving riffs, a pummeling rhythm section and melody in just the right amount to pull you in with repeated listen. Plenty of instrumental action can be found as well, including the jam based first minute and guitar driven interlude following a quieter passage at the halfway point.
“Dream To Fly” backs down from the heaviness and evens things out in the process. The song starts to several seconds of quietly played guitar prior to kicking in at once, staunchly moving ahead as piano and grooving bass join with undercurrents of rhythm guitar to form what amounts quite the melody driven emphasis. The band fails to back down from the instrumental focus as quite the flowing run of lead guitar can also be found.
“Again” comes across in the form of a semi-ballad. Opening to several seconds of distorted guitar, the song ethereally flows through its verses to lush acoustic guitar before the rhythm guitar cuts in to drive what amounts an immaculately done chorus. Plenty of big backing vocals can be found along with an emotionally charged run of lead guitar.
Maintaining the acoustic proclivity is “Fly In The Wind’. This is one of the albums more calmer and gentler pieces, touching upon some melodic rock aspects with backing vocals in abundance and lighter traces of rhythm guitar joining with a forwardly done acoustic guitar.
“Quo Vadis, Domine” brings more refinement. The song maintains the tranquil direction in being given the full ballad treatment, with piano, keyboards and acoustic guitar carrying things ahead until a luxurious chorus bordering on the commercial is obtained. Catchy and stunning, I can tell why this one was chosen as the albums title track.
Full on progressive metal would be the best way to describe “Jeremy VII”. The group is all over the place on this one, starting the first minute in fusion-based instrumental mode but also encompassing some groove based touches with powering bass lines, driving passages sustained by full throttle guitars and aggressive vocals and an over the top chorus melded with keyboards and piano. Instrumentally, “Jeremy VII” proves another monster as a jazzy feel gives way to a blazing lead guitar that strategically trades off with organ and keyboards. Great song- Dream Theater couldn’t have done it any better!
A return to ballad territory can be found in “Tears II”. The first two minutes flow peacefully to acoustic guitar, piano and orchestration as Mo Jung-Gil exhibits the smooth sounding range to his voice. A heavy edged guitar crashes in after that, forcing things ahead at the more forward clip as a notable melody is reinforced along with another fiery lead guitar run. I am reminded of Stryper here.
“Yes” strains for a power/progressive based sound- and a very good one at that! The song highlights some resoundingly heavy moments - guitars staunchly done and in your face! - but at a moments notice can decelerate to a more tranquil passage flowing to a temperate acoustic guitar. Chorus is quite catchy as is the riff action. Some of the bands best songwriting can be found here.
The classic melodic metal of “The Lfe” delivers the goods: up-tempo momentum, crunch heavy guitars and great flowing chorus placing emphasis on some radio friendly elements. In between, you will also find a tasteful keyboard mix and some fantastic drum work from Lee Seung-Hoon. Again, the Stryper comparison must be noted.
Another eighties melodic hard rocker can be found in “Come Back”. A driving riff mentality can be found here, as the song charges its distance to a ton of forthright initiative and another chorus of the compelling variety (memorable but driven at the same time). A fusion based touch is reflected in Cho Pil-Sung cutting loose with a scorching lead guitar run.
“Return” closes things in the form of a lushly done ballad along the lines of “Tears II” but not quite as heavy in that guitars do not kick in with quite the same edge during the chorus. The song, otherwise, highlights both piano and plenty of the bands trademark refined vocal melodies.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Intro” (.42), “The Game” (4:49), “Dream To Fly” (5:31), “Again” (5:26), “Fly In The Wind” (3:31), “Quo Vadis, Domine” (4:33), “Jeremy VII” (8:05), “Tears II” (4:06), “Yes” (6:33), “The Life” (4:14), “Come Back” (4:19), “Return” (4:54), “Outro” (1:05)
Mo Jung-Gil - Lead Vocals
Cho Pil-Sung - Guitars & Keyboards
Byun Sung-Woo - Bass
Lee Seung-Hoon - Drums