Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Wiszdom Stone - Rise
   
Musical Style: Power Metal Produced By: Wiszdom Stone
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2009 Artist Website: Wiszdom Stone
Tracks: 10 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 56:35
Wiszdom Stone - Rise

Wiszdon Stone can trace its beginnings to two friends that started playing in bands together in high school, guitarist Ray Luokka and drummer Brian Noonan.  When the two crossed paths after being away from the music scene for several years, they soon began work on the material that would encompass Wiszdom Stone’s debut EP, a four song self-titled effort that came out in 2006.  Later rounding out its line up with talented frontman Andre’ Beaudot and bassist Dan Wolfe, the group returned to the studio to record its second EP, The Battle Rages from 2008, before following up with the summer of 2009 full length offering Rise.  

What this Jackson, Wisconsin based “band of Christians” brings to the table is power metal.  Now, at this point I am sure you are asking: What type of power metal?  Well, not speedy Euro-style power metal (think Seventh Avenue) or even epic power metal (such as Theocracy) but rather good old fashioned classic US power metal along the lines of Jacobs Dream, Sacred Warrior or Faith Factor.  But that would only be telling part of the story in that there is a versatile element to the Wiszdom Stone sound reflected in some melodic metal moments that bring to mind Rob Rock or the occasional progressive touch hinting at 7th Reign and Amaran’s Plight.

The title track to Rise, with its neo-classical flavorings, finds Wiszdom Stone in top form while a more symphonic direction is taken on the equally able “Take This Cup”.  The group displays its creativity on “Floods & Fires” and “Unforgiven”, two of the albums heavier pieces, in addition to the melodic based “Without Faith” and non-stop energy of “The Battle Rages”.  The previously referenced progressive influences can be found in the palatial “The Sky Is Falling” and eight minute epic “Mourning Loss”.

Vocalist Andre’ helps give Wiszdom Stone its signatures sound.  Specifically, he combines elements of grit – kind of like Matt Sinner (Primal Fear) – with a smooth sounding presence comparable to Brian Soulard (7th Reign).  The overall impression left is Lance King singing in a lower key.

Guitar work is another area of strength.  Ray Luokka delivers memorable riffs and melodies in abundance while combining with guest guitarists Mike Stone (ex-Queensryche), Brent Taritas, Brian Bolle and Brent Taritas for the albums tasteful lead work, ranging in style from the neo-classical to the melodic to the blazing.

Keyboards are also well done in that they highlight without coming across unnecessarily dominating.

The only constructive comment revolves around production, which reflects a slight hint of muddiness.  Compare the sound here to recent releases from Sinbreed (When Worlds Collide), 7th Reign (Fallen Empires) and Audiovision (Focus) to understand my point.

While I would hesitate to label Wiszdom Stone a Christian band, the lyrics throughout Rise clearly reflects the group’s faith.  Christian imagery abounds throughout the project, best reflected on “Rise”, “Take This Cup”, “Without Faith” and “The Sky Is Falling”.  As a matter of fact, Wiszdom Stone defines its name to mean “Knowing The Lord leads to Knowledge, Knowledge leads to Wisdom and Wisdom leads to Understanding".

Six minute album opener “Rise” stands out with its tight guitar harmonies, undeviating double bass and classical touches, particularly during its instrumental moments as Ray Luokka and Brian Bolle shine with their sleek soloing abilities.  No, this might not be the groups heaviest but holds up nonetheless with its superlative chorus and melodic driven proclivity.  “Rise” talks about building a firm foundation:

Like castles in the sand
You feel the tide role over you
We need to build our house on solid ground
You say you lost your will to live

I don’t believe you’re ready to die
We must LIVE before we die
Spread your wings and fly again
Fly unto the Son

A more aggressive direction is taken on “Floods And Fire”, a muscular piece characterized by its snarling rhythm guitar walls and churning low end.  Despite the overriding scene melody is not forsaken in that the song proves refreshingly catchy with its hook driven essence.  The apocalyptic feel conveyed almost brings to mind Faith Factor.  Finding shelter from the storm is the message conveyed:

Beyond the groves… beneath the sunset
The horizon’s thick with clouds of fleeing crows
Telling of a storm that swelling
Closer as it grows
Swallowing the day
I feel you grab my wrist and hear you say

Let us make for higher ground
I say someday you will see this as I see it now
As the lowlands are burning down
We can hide on this hillside much higher than the floods and the fire

The guitar driven propensity continues on “Unforgiven”.  What we have here is an anthem-like number showcasing some guitar melodies that bring to mind Jacobs Dream.  Otherwise, the song walks a fine line between eighties melodic metal and traditional power metal in bringing a perfectly flowing chorus and touches of the acoustic.  “Unforgiven” seems to be focusing on those who are falsely accused:

Walk in silence
We know what we’ve got to do
Without a warning atoning sites are set on you
Now the time is right and my mind grows blank
Though the sun will rise again it will never be the same

We were young and wild
Holding on to what we thought was real
So unjustified the way the called us unforgiven
I tried so hard to tell the world I’m feelin’
So unjustified the way the called us unforgiven

“Take This Cup” represents this reviewer’s choice track.  Driven by galloping guitar riffs and Andre’s emotional vocal performance, the song highlights heavier passages upheld by a presiding rhythm guitar and others taking a more symphonic approach with keyboards and piano leading the way.  An almost prayer scene holds sway in the process.  This one finds Wiszdom Stone determined not to give up the fight:

Holding on… blinded but still I see
The lies that hide behind your smile
Disguise… masquerade the truth
O’ desire’s left its mark on you
Father, take this cup from me
I want to live but it seems you’re killing me

The temper laughs “Are you forsaken?”
Taught to believe
That the truth would set me free
But its truth that caged my soul
And killed my dreams
And I fall down to my knees

A turn towards the melodic is taken on ‘Without Faith”.  As a matter of fact, the minute long instrumental opening to the song brings some guitar riffs reminiscent to the Rob Rock tune “Stranglehold” (off Eyes Of Eternity from 2003).  A deeper and more ominous direction, in contrast, prevails as “Without Faith” reaches its verses while the catchy chorus reflects a sweeping capacity as the band makes a statement of faith:

Silent revelations in the solitude of soul
In the night there’s a Light
That’s fighting for control
There’s a voice inside that’s saying don’t let go
Of what you’re holding on to
For those WITHOUT FAITH there is no hope

A more tempered passage further reinforces this:

In thy Kingdom come
Oh thy will be done
Here on earth as in heaven above
And my heart is strong
Though in deeds I wrong
All the ones that I have loved

As Rise transitions to its second half its material heads in the lengthier and more intricate, progressive influenced direction.

This is best reflected in “The Sky Is Falling”, seven minutes of majesty in which the band puts its best foot forward songwriting wise.  The song starts to several seconds of militant drumming before moving forward to a pronounced bass line.  Staunchly maneuvering its verses as the rhythm guitar hammers in and out of the mix, the song culminates for a mournful sigh of a chorus delivered in an all encompassing and heartfelt manner.  The end result is an environs bordering on the unflagging.  Great meaning to the lyrics as well:

I close my eyes afraid to dream
The voice again, it beckons me
A silent whisper in the night
That takes my fears away

You can crucify
You can take my life
Can’t kill the hope inside of me
The sacrifice
The crimson key unlocks the door of truth
And sets me free
The Truth that sets me free

“The Battle Rages” represents the albums fastest and most upbeat.  The song rollicks its distance as a piano decorates the backdrop, a plethora of double bass adding to the victorious scene as the band strikes the perfect balance between the powerful and poignant.  Tight guitar harmony carries an accenting instrumental excursion.  “The Battle Rages” touches upon spiritual warfare:

The battle rages in my mind
Must leave the past behind
Struggle to set myself free
Hear my cry
Attack, you try to run away
(Head for the Light)

No time to pray
An angel whispers in my ear:
“You can’t trust the man in the mirror”
My mind can’t take no more
(Demons inside you are trying to lead you astray)
No, no more…

“Mourning Loss”, eight minutes of lushly orchestration progressive metal, proves an intricate piece with its emphasis on changes in time and tempo.  The song presents with faster passages bringing an energetic feel and others giving rise to a more melodic aura- all the while a beautiful merging of guitars and keyboards carries things as occasional female vocals decorate the backdrop.  “Mournful Loss” also comes across in the form of a duet as Andre’ trades off with the “gruffer” low-key vocal approach of David Scott McBee. Temptation is expounded upon here as two voices (inside the songwriters head) contest:

The Lost Dreamer: My soul is aching and I know I must break free from you…
Desire: You can try to fight it, run if you like but DESIRE knows your soul
The Lost Dreamer: Behind me Satan, I’m not playing, MUST set my eyes upon the Truth
Desire: I’ve brought kings to their knees, I’ve set heavens on fire, I’ve conquered innocence, Oh, I am DESIRE
The Lost Dreamer: So I tell you hat it’s over.  And my soul is free to dream.  Yes, I tell you that it’s over.  Just you wait and see.  Just you wait and see.  Oh, it’s over.  Just you wait and see.

The Lost Dreamer: As I am now, so shall be.  Prepare yourself to follow me.  Full speed ahead, we race to the end with our dreams.  Oh, EVERY step it brings me closer.  Seems EVERY breath just makes me bolder.  Open up the gates, I’m coming in.

Closing things out are two songs in “Eyes Open” and “U Should Not Fear” I rank a notch below the albums better material.  “Eyes Open”, the heavier of the two, showcases some highlighting keyboards and brazen riffs, while “U Should Not Fear” head in the more melodic direction with its upbeat and energetic tempo.  No, neither is bad but they leave me a bit underwhelmed in light of what Wiszdom Stone is capable.

The only constructive comment to offer regarding Rise is that production could use a touch of polish and the final two songs – again, while far from bad – are not on the same level as the albums better material.  Otherwise, the positives FAR outweigh the negatives, particularly in terms of songwriting (the first eight songs are outstanding), lead vocals and musicianship.  Let’s hope a cool label such as Ulterium or Nightmare picks these guys up.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Rise” (5:51), “Floods And Fires” (4:47), “Unforgiven” (4:18), “Take This Cup” (5:44), “Without Faith” (5:32), “The Sky Is Falling” (6:45), “The Battle Rages” (5:41), “Mournful Loss” (8:14), “Eyes Open” (5:44), “U Should Not Fear” (3:54)

Musicians
Andre’ Beaudot – Lead Vocals
Ray Luokka – Guitars
Don Wolfe – Bass & keyboards
Brian Noonan – Drums

Guest Musician
David Scott McBee – Lead Vocals
Mike Stone, Brian Bolle, Brent Taritas & Mike Henzig - Guitars
Casey Grillo - Drums

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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