“New Discovery” is the 6th album by the US Prog Metal outfit, Artension. The band consists of various musicians from US and European bands. The leader seems to be Vitalij Kuprij (Ring Of Fire) on keyboards, with Kevin Chown (Magnitude 9, Tiles) on bass, Mike Terrana (Rage, Axel Rudi Pell) on drums, John West (Royal Hunt) on vocals and Roger Staffelbach on guitar.
The sound can be best described as neo-classical prog-metal, though this release finds the band cranking up the speed quite a bit from previous albums. Though I do like Royal Hunt’s music - and Kuprij’s dominating keyboards sounds like a combination of Hunt’s Andre Anderson’s speedy synths and the legendary Keith Emerson when he’s playing Hammond – this band is much less sophisticated and more derivative. In fact, bands like Artension often dominate the prog-metal scene and seem to be springing up everywhere these days.
To my ears, after two listens, only three songs are even remotely enjoyable on this CD. The tender and cheesy “Innocence Lost”, the symphonic “Endless Days”, and the untitled short instrumental that closes the CD. It seems that, like many metal bands, Artension seems to think that speed equals energy in music. However, what creates energy is dramatic diversity; when the machine slows, then speeds up, then changes again. The excessive scuttle from one song to the next just leads to the listener’s inability to tell one song from another; and one instrument from another in the mix.
And “New Discovery” is loaded with songs that sound so similar, that if not for the silence between tracks, it would sound like a 3 song CD with one long, extended speed-fest all in the same key.
Something should also be said about the sound. Earlier recordings of the band were OK, but this one has no bass, no depth, no density. The music blends together as a mashed up helping of mid-range sludge.
All the musicians in Artension are excellent. What they need is a new producer, engineer, vocal style, and song writer(s). But if the band thinks they are conquering new ground with this release, then the prog-metal genre is in deep trouble.