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Autumn Hour - "dethroned" (CD)

Autumn Hour - "dethroned" CD cover image

"dethroned" track listing:

01. Oblivion
02. End User
03. Techcceleration (The Machine Speaks)
04. Here Comes The Rain Again
05. Fade Out
06. Unbelievable (The Mind Speaks)
07. Dethroned
08. How Were We Supposed To Know?
09. Every Day (The Body Speaks)
10. Transcend
11. The Past (The Heart Speaks)

Reviewed by on August 2, 2009

"With 'dethroned,' Autumn Hour has created a concept album flows together almost perfectly to tell its story of the merger of human and machine. "

In writing my review of Autumn Hour's "dethroned," it amuses me that I'm going to give such high praise to a CD that nearly killed me. Perhaps I should explain. With "dethroned" rocking the speakers, I was merrily driving my Toyota on my way to work, bashing out some air drums on the steering wheel (c'mon guys, you've all been there). All of a sudden, the album's fourth track came on, and I heard the lyrics "Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory ..."

No way! This band seriously was attempting a heavy metal cover of the Eurythmics — and it was working! I started laughing with joy and searching the passenger seat for the CD booklet to be sure I was actually hearing what I thought I was.

Fortunately, I looked up in time to swerve away from a cement truck that had veered into my lane. As it was, I think the incident may have taken a couple years off my life — but a great album like this one makes it worth it. Yeah, "Here Comes The Rain Again" is a high point, but this is an album full of them.

Though I'd classify it as mostly progressive metal, the disc really does defy genre in some interesting ways, with some almost death-like growls, some guitar solos that wouldn't be out of place on a power metal album, and the occasional thrash flourish on the drums.

Like any good prog rock album, "dethroned" has a story to tell — and this one is among the most intriguing I've heard in a while. Apparently based on the ideas Ray Kurzweil explored in his book, "The Singularity Is Near," the album tells the story of a devastated world in which technology attempts to save mankind from extinction.

In short, this is an album for geeks like me — though any metalhead will probably find something to love. Still, when the band paraphrases the Green Lantern oath from the comic books ("In brightest day, in blackest night ...") in "Fade Out," it definitely seems like a shout-out to the geeks.

Singer Alan Tecchio expertly alternates between near-growls (accompanied by the barking background vocals of guitarist Justin Jurman and drummer Dave Lecinsky), soaring choruses, and quiet, melodic tones during the album's acoustic moments. Sometimes, the vocals invite comparisons with Queensryche's Geoff Tate — and that's never a bad thing.

Justin Jurman's guitars are excellent throughout, though on "End User," they sound a mite tinny. His fleet-fingered solos are a highlight of the album.

Clint Arent's bass lines are interesting, particularly on "Here Comes The Rain Again," in which his bass picks up the part played by the symphonic synths in the Eurythmics original.

Dave Lecinsky's drumming is excellent as well, though he overpowers the beginning of "End User."

Other than a couple technical issues with "End User," I don't have many quibbles with the album. Sure, the acoustic "How Were We Supposed To Know?" and the metallic "Every Day (The Body Speaks)" could've been tightened up a little, but they don't overstay their welcome by that much.

With "dethroned," Autumn Hour has created a concept album that flows together almost perfectly to tell its story of the merger of human and machine. And, if you don't care about the story, it's got enough rocking riffs and technical musical moments to keep your head banging and your toes tapping. You can't ask for more than that.

Highs: Excellent playing throughout, but the Eurythmics cover "Here Comes The Rain Again" and "Fade Out" especially stand out.

Lows: Technical issues mar "End User" a little bit; a couple songs could've been tightened up a little.

Bottom line: Whether you're in it for the high-concept story or just the headbanging riffs, this album has something for everyone.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)