|Musical Style: Progressive Metal||Produced By: Gregg Rossetti & Rich Skibinsky|
|Record Label: Nightmare||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 70:34|
Any fans of progressive metal out there? The genre, of course, has expanded significantly over the years with the likes of Dream Theater, Symphony X, Threshold and Shadow Gallery playing a leading role while lesser known – though every bit as musically significant – acts such as Magnitude 9, Darkwater, Amaran’s Plight and Images Of Eden have made their mark as well. New Jersey based Susype warrants equal consideration. A band that can trace its history back to 2001 when it was founded by guitarists Gregg Rossetti and Rich Skibinsky, Susprye recruited bassist Kirk Schwenkler in 2003 before rounding out its line up with vocalist Clay Barton and drummer Sam Paulicelli two years later. The fall of 2005 found Suspyre releasing its full length debut, The Silvery Image, a work that can best be described as progressive metal joined with power metal but reflecting orchestral and classical overtones. Before The Silvery Image could be released, however, the band began work on the material that would encompass its two part, 70 minute follow up effort The Great Divide: “The Alignment Of Galaxies”, part one, came together in August of 2005 while part two, “The Origin Of A Curse”, was composed three months later. Bassist Kirk Schwenkler, in the meantime, departed the group only to be replaced by Andrew Distabile (bassist extraordinaire Noah Martin ended up performing on the album).
On A Great Divide Suspyre continues the trend it set on The Silvery Image by taking a foundation of progressive metal and blending it with occasional jazz-fusion and classical tendencies. This is best demonstrated on the nine minute “The Singer”, a Symphony X-like track with a huge chorus hook and extended instrumental passage showcasing many of the jazz elements in question. “Subliminal Delusions”, one of the fastest compositions here, also brings to mind Symphony X with its sublime instrumental opening and infectious melody. Speaking of the melodic, “April In The Fall” stands out as quite the memorable piece with its shorter (5:43) power metal based sound and hook filled chorus. The slower but gritty “Alterations Of The Ivory” proves equally notable, while “The Piano Plays At Last” even flirts with ballad territory. It is on the albums instrumental numbers, however, that Suspyre shines in that the ten minute “Galactic Backward Movements”, an almost eclectic piece running the gamut from all out metal to the orchestral, stands in perfect complement to the near equally lengthy and mostly instrumental “Manipulation In Time”. The band, in addition, puts its classical influences on display on shorter interludes “Forever The Voices” and “Bending The Violet”.
Clay Barton brings a versatile, mid-octave vocal style that occasionally hints at Russell Allen (Symophony X). “The Singer”, for example, finds him adding a smooth sounding feel to his delivery, while on “Alterations Of The Ivory” he reaches down low with a forceful element of grit and gravel. To say the musicianship here is over the top would be an understatement. It all starts with the guitar team of Gregg Rossetti and Rich Skibinsky. The two combine to put in place an abundance of heavy duty riffs – some fast paced and others more tempered – but it is in the area of dual lead guitar work that they truly shine. To gain an understanding of their capabilities just check out “Manipulation In Time”, “Subliminal Delusions” and “The Singer” (not to mention the instrumental “Galactic Backward Movements”). Sam Paulicelli, as tight a timekeeper as you will find, rounds out the rhythm section with the technical bass lines of Noah Martin.
Production values deliver just the right amount of polish but not so much as to arrest the bands natural, raw energy.
While not a Christian band, Suspyre does feature a believing member in vocalist Clay Barton, who makes all the albums lyrical contributions. A Great Divide seems to be sort of a concept album tracing the difficult life and times and ultimate death of a piano playing girl named April. All the while Barton, of course, underpins the material here with occasional spiritual themes and overtones.
The minute long interlude “Forever Voices” opens part one of A Great Divide, “The Alignment Of Galaxies”, to a joining of keyboards, classical instrumentation and choir-like vocals.
“The Singer” starts at once to a hammering guitar riff backed by a technical bass line. Tapering off to a keyboard prior to its first verse, the song smoothly flows ahead until the rhythm guitar returns and leads the way to a catchy chorus highlighted by ethereal backing vocals. Rosetti and Skibinsky trade off on lead guitar throughout a three minute instrumental section, which features an interesting jazz-fusion passage at its halfway point. What we have here is a song perfect in everyway, both musically and lyrically:
Draw me straight into discordance
I have been stepping over sight
No one will speak of forgiveness
Except the God of all the Light
It proves quite the transition as the album moves on to the atmospheric sounds of “The Spirit”. Quite the haunting piece, a blend of acoustic guitar, keyboards and classical instrumentation compels this one its full distance as it gives rise to quite the haunting melody. Rossetti adds to the lofty setting with his accentuating work on alto saxophone.
“Galactic Backward Movements”, a diverse ten minute instrumental, is compelled through its first three minutes by a cinematic blend of keyboards and piano. Once the rhythm guitar kicks in, however, the tempo picks up as some mega-tight riffing drives things ahead – carried over occasional double bass – until a passage is procured featuring an unexpected (but interesting) lead guitar and saxophone trade off. Solos – bass, guitar and drum – follow. Without a doubt an effective number, “Galactic Backward Movements” might have been better off if reduced by a minute or two (the Middle Eastern flavored section and orchestral keyboards at its end prove a bit taxing).
With nearly seven of its 8:45 instrumental, I find it easy to identify with “Manipulation In Time” as an instrumental that happens to include a couple of verse and chorus sections thrown in. Seriously, the instrumental introduction at the start of the song begins to a hammering rhythm guitar that gives way to a double bass driven riff. After transitioning through its first and second verse and chorus, “Manipulation In Time” moves on to an incredible four and a half minute long instrumental section (too many time changes to go into adequate detail). The song, fittingly, closes out its final seconds in instrumental fashion. All in all, what we have here might not be the albums catchiest track but the bands awesome display of instrumental prowess puts it over the top.
“Resolution” quiets things down a bit with its choir-like vocals, acoustic guitar and sound of pouring rain in the background.
The melodic sounds of “April In The Fall” initiates part two of A Great Divide, “The Origin Of A Curse”. The song quickly fades in before romping forward to a driving guitar riff underlined by keyboards. Tapering off to a mid-tempo clip upon reaching its first verse, the song picks up in pace for the second prior to advancing on a grasping chorus of the hook-filled variety. One of the shorter pieces here at “just” 5:43, “April In The Fall” brings a melodic power metal sound not unlike Narnia or Magnitude 9.
“Subliminal Delusions”, a faster track with a Symphony X-like feel, commences to a grandiose introduction before powering through its first and second verse in purposeful fashion. Rapid double bass shores up the sweeping chorus that ensues. After a lengthy instrumental section in which Rossetti and Skibinsky again trade off on lead guitar, the song makes its way to a bridge made up of some of the albums catchiest moments. I wish it had been repeated a few more times. Still, a great song.
The cinematic instrumental “Bending The Violet” – carried its extent by pompous sounding keyboards – allows the band to show off its classical overtones in no uncertain terms.
“The Piano Plays At Last” is the closest any of the albums material comes to falling within ballad territory. The song begins to a stretch of orchestration and quietly played guitar, sustaining the tranquil ambience as it slowly drifts through its initial verse portions and chorus in a smooth sounding manner. Subsequent to an untroubled instrumental passage, the pace picks up as an edgy rhythm guitar imbues the verse that follows before things even out for a chorus in which a placid setting is put into place. The rhythm guitar continues to makes its presence felt as “The Piano Plays At Last” moves on to a lengthy instrumental passage.
Slow paced but gritty and catchy, “Alterations Of The Ivory” begins as a saxophone is carried over a forward mix of rhythm guitar. The song gradually builds momentum over its first two minutes, not culminating until it obtains a substantial chorus guaranteed to pull you in with the unyielding feel to its delivery. Once more, Suspyre showcases its instrumental sound – another well executed lead guitar trade off – as “Alterations Of The Ivory” dives into a three minute instrumental section.
The sweeping keyboards at the start of the aggressive “Blood And Passion” give way to a double bass driven riff. Charging ahead to a plethora of up-tempo impetus, the song relentlessly plows through its first verse and chorus only to temporarily settle down to a passage shored up by beautiful, melodic guitar harmony. A fusion based instrumental passage features both guitar, bass and piano solos, while the guitar harmony returns to close out the songs final two minutes.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Forever The Voices” (1:12), “The Singer” (9:00), “The Spirit” (3:19), “Galactic Backward Movements” (9:50), “Manipulation In Time” (8:44), “Resolution” (2:11), “April In The Fall” (5:43), “Subliminal Delusions” (6:37), “Bending The Violet” (2:31), “The Piano Plays At Last” (6:02), “Alterations Of The Ivory” (7:42), “Blood And Passion” (7:30)
Clay Barton – Lead Vocals
Gregg Rossetti – Guitars & Saxophone
Rich Skibinsky – Guitars & Keyboards
Andrew Distabile – Bass
Sam Paulicelli – Drums
Noah Martin – Bass
Ceara Crandall-Johnson - Vocals