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The Swedish progressive metal band Illusion of Clarity has finished their second demo 'Ambivalent Existence'. The band was born from the remains of Hellstream (the guitarists Anders Hållberg and Christian Skärby). To complete the line-up, they are accompanied by a drummer Henrik Söderlund (Cygnus), vocalist Patrik Forsberg (Leprechaun, Twilight Throne) and bassist Emil Holmgren (Arcane, Yore, Resurrect).
Illusion of Clarity's music is multi-faceted metal, therefore we'll go through the demo track by track. The first track 'Faceless' is a song most reminiscent of neo-classical metal (à la Yngwie Malmsteen). The overall sound is flavoured with other influences as well (thus making the song sound progressive).
On the second track 'Beyond Borders of Logic', the neo-classical influence is still going strong — the intro riff reminds me of Yngwie Malmsteen's work. However, in the middle there's a still water section, which balances the otherwise quite speedy song structure. After that the song transforms into a straightforward metal song with occasional double bass drum blasting.
The quality of material on this album transcends after the first two songs (the two last songs are better than the first two). I consider the third track 'Legacy of a Cold Heart' as the best track on this demo. The song starts with an acoustic "ballad like" intro, but the song soon converts into a metal song. Magellan and Shadow Gallery influences come clear as soon as the verse begins. Some of the metal parts are flavoured with progressive metal in the vein of Dream Theater. In the end the song converts back to the acoustic "ballad like" intro tune (although now it serves the purpose of outro).
The last track on this demo is called 'Unconscious Minds'. It's the second best song, sharing similarity with Shadow Gallery and Magellan once again (chorus). However, now there's also a thrash metal section on the song (the bassist Emil Holmgren takes the turn on lead vocals). The thrash metal part is a refreshing addition to the song structure (however, it was quite short section).
Production on this album has been handled quite well. All the productional tasks were carried out by Ola Englund at Midtown Music, Stockholm. Overall the mix sounds quite good, although in places it's a bit thin. However, the mix sounds powerful enough when it needs to (dynamics have been used well). The drums have been mixed quite nicely (drums sound assertive). Also the fact that the recordings are relatively clean is surprising for a "demo" production. Nevertheless, there was some slight background noise on some lead guitar parts (distortion). Otherwise, there's not much to complain.
Listeners of technical progressive metal (bands like Psychotic Waltz, Spiral Architect and Spastic Ink, to name a few) should check Illusion of Clarity out. Also fans of Shadow Gallery, Dream Theater and even Yngwie Malmsteen (and countless others) should give Illusion of Clarity a try (you can dowload their songs for free from their website). All in all, Ambivalent Existence is quite good progressive metal recording, which deserves some attention. For a demo, it's quite long (the length is over 30 minutes). If only the "suitable" record company gets to hear 'Legacy of a Cold Heart', a record deal shouldn't be too far away...
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- MAGE (28.12.2004)
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