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Scenery Channel's debut album is ready at last, and carries the title "Premiere" fittingly. During the past half year I've listened to this album occasionally, and so far my enjoyment hasn't worn off. Actually concept albums usually get better with time, and this is definitely the case with SC's debut offering that's theme I'll leave for you to discover... I'll only reveal that there are quite a few neat things in the material for you to note (so be sure to both watch Back to the Future trilogy and listen to this album observantly).
It's been quite a while since I last made a song-by-song glance of some record. However, with Scenery Channel's debut, Premiere, I'm ready to make an exception and break apart from my traditional review regime... the album starts off with "Overture 2015", which turns out to be quite a distinguished album opener with its atmospheric orchestral arrangements. It is followed by "Awaken from a Dream" showcasing an appealing blend of Dream Theater and Enchant. As the record proceeds, two more straight-forward songs are introduced - "The Corridor" and the title track "Premiere". The former is fairly ordinary metal tune with some proggy elements. The latter, on the other hand, is a lot more pop-oriented song, which - of all material - probably appeals the most to general public with its delicate Seal influences (Kiss from a Rose) among others. Regardless, pop doesn't stay long in gear, as the next song already turns the direction back towards metal - I'd call "Prowled" a pair of siblings with the Corridor, although Prowled definitely contains more proggimmickry. The gimmickry phase of Scenery Channel also continues on the following song "Escape", which is an instrumental interlude showcasing the band's musicianship and few of their influences (there are parts similar to Dream Theater and Freak Kitchen, for example).
The seventh song takes Scenery Channel back to mellower music, as it's a more laidback tune with calmer mood and softer melodies than the earlier material. Nonetheless, the latter half of this song gains quite a few dramatic flavours to it. This song seems to serve the function for building up the mood for a true progballad, "First Rays of Morning Light". Then comes the band's own favourite "Concrete", which is more of an artistic fling. This progmedleyish track has some really good sections, and naturally claims its position amongst the highlights of this record.
The surprise factor of Premiere can be found at the tenth track that contains "Dancing with the Fire", an upbeat yet proggy dance song which definitely takes the listener by surprise. The last song "The Highest Floor" is again more traditional Scenery channel material with its rockin' groove and diverse soundscapes. What's most evident throughout the whole album, is this group's potential and their ear for intriguing compositions. Though Lankinen's transparent voice isn't everyone's cup of tea, I'd bet most will find it really apt for the material - especially fans of "3" and "Coheed and Cambria" should feel at home.
So far I've only complimented the band, but I have some criticism in store for them as well. Perhaps the metal side of this group needs a bit more edge to it, while the soft side seems to be well under control. In addition, I must admit that the material could be slightly more gripping at times - but then again, progressive music has never been famous for being overtly catchy. Nevertheless, the chances for commercial success would be better with less focus on progressivity, and this is a shame. I can only wish the band best of luck in this hard industry, and hopefully they'll continue releasing great records. Oh, and one more thing... this album has simply stunning production for a home recording - snare sounds snappy and the other sounds are good too. Thomas Eberger did a fantastic job on mastering this record at Cutting Room, Sweden.
Release date: June 2nd, 2006 (you may order it through their website)
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- MAGE (June 1st, 2006)
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