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Ethereal Architect - "Dissension" (CD)

Ethereal Architect - "Dissension" CD cover image

"Dissension" track listing:

1. Phrygian
2. Still Waiting
3. Slip
4. Thief
5. Nevermore
6. Driven
7. Undone
8. Choke
9. Negative Two-Thirds

Reviewed by on November 3, 2008

"A good melodic/power metal band restrained by a ball and chain with 'prog' written on it"

New to the progressive metal arena is Ethereal Architect, hailing from the mighty state of Texas. "Dissension" is their first full length release and right off the bat I can say if you do not like your progressive metal in the Dream Theater/Symphony X variety, then chuck Opeth’s new album in the player instead because this will have you writhing in your seat.

As far as the overall sound goes, Ethereal Architect stray closer to the melodic/power metal lines than most and Iced Earth, In Flames and Blind Guardian are cited as influences by the band. Combined with the keyboards this definitely helps give the music some ass kicking capabilities, which are solidified by the great drum work. In Flames get some strong nods in a few songs, "Choke" and "Still Waiting" being the most obvious.

Unfortunately Ethereal Architect are hardly breaking as many song-writing boundaries as they'd like to believe, and the mid-paced gut-punching of the rhythm guitar gets tiresome as the album wears on, though the lead guitar fireworks go some way to rectifying this. All together the music sounds like a good melodic/power metal band restrained by a ball and chain with "prog" written on it. At times when the listener needs a breather or a change from the norm, “Dissension” will simply give more of the same (which would be fine if it was foaming at the mouth for something like an Iced Earth album). There's just not enough overall structure on any of the songs to come close to anything truly worthy of a Dream Theater fan's attention, and this seems to be a follow on effect from mixing the more straight forward melodic songwriting with prog to make... bog-standard prog.

While not terrible, the vocals also never truly unleash any power, which is a killer for "Dissension," as it works to push Ethereal Architect further towards the bland pile. Screams, growls, high pitch blasts, anything that would go some way to breaking the safe range in which the singer has worn himself into, would go a long way.

However for a nubile progressive metal act from Texas the band hasn't done badly. The album is unquestionably solid in both the production and song-writing. Rip out some of the bland riffs and apply a cattle prod to the rear for energy and Ethereal Architect could pull off a great album. While it's not my style to kick an unsigned band in the gut it's neither to praise bland bands - with prog packed full of talented-as-hell new acts like Zero Hour and Ihsahn, Ethereal Architect will have to fight a bloody battle to get established in the scene.

Highs: Solid instrumentalism and progressive metal nature

Lows: Vocals that refuse to grab you and the "standard" prog outing

Bottom line: Check this out if you're into run of the mill progressive metal and you've worn out your Fates Warning albums

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)