Some bands are just destined to out do themselves, to continue to challenge themselves and aspire to greatness. Florida's Artizan is one of those bands, and The Furthest Reaches, their third album, bears witness to these things. It's simply a superb piece of classic melodic power metal. But I'm a fan, so expect a smidgen of bias in this review.
There's much to like about this album. One, it's concept album, a sci-fi story. Heavy metal and sci-fi, you say? They go together like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, fish and chips ... well, you get the idea (and I'm getting hungry). This hook up will give the metal nerds out there an instant boner. But I digress. The story has something to do with an alien race coming to Earth after being summoned by a distress call. And if I understand correctly, we are totally screwed, like war of the machines f-ed up.
But on to the tunes. I've already given away Artizan's style in the first paragraph. The heart and soul of the band is fundamental melodic metal. The band, rightfully so, is big on harmony and melody, from the twin guitar harmony to the vocal arrangements. And Tom Braden has to be one of the best pure metal vocalists this side of the Atlantic. His range and control are, well, simply stunning. While outstanding throughout, the strength and panorama of his voice are especially awesome within The Furthest Reaches and Wardens of the World (with an assist from Sabrina Cruz of Seven Kingdoms). Underneath all this, drummer Ty Tammeus and bass player Jonathan Jennings keep the rhythm and movement of the songs tight and perfectly paced.
A few final comments on the album. First, Tammeus is one fine drummer, and his skills are self-evident across this album. Yet his rhythm and especially his tone are the undeniable "x-factors" that makes him sound so good. Check out Hopeful Eyes or the opening and continuing drum line of Supernova. Second, Artizan has also had, over the course of albums, a touch of progressive metal up their sleeves. You get a good taste of that once more with the title track, which also incorporates a strong symphonic line. For those of us who are lead guitar geeks, there's bunches upon bunches of fret fireworks all over this album. Also, the production is pristine and precise, in the very best sense, and I'm not talking about auto-tuning bullshit. Finally, continuing with their sci-fi theme, Artizan covers Styx's Come Sail Away in fine fashion, with Braden's vocals leading the way.
To conclude, I merely repeat myself: Artizan's The Furthest Reaches is simply a superb piece of classic melodic power metal, something that should be in your collection. Strongly recommended. (Like, go buy it now.)
Artizan's The Furthest Reaches is simply a superb piece of classic melodic power metal, something that should be in your collection. Strongly recommended.
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