Reviewed: September 2006
Released: 2006, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
OPTICAL ILLUSION, the third album from Richard Andersson’s Time Requiem, “completes the circle,” according to his website, and closing the book on this over-wrought neo-classical cheese-fest probably isn’t a bad thing. Filled with the over-the-top showmanship of, say, an Yngwie Malmsteen album that can at least make the listener stand back in awe, OPTICAL ILLUSION is suited more towards the output from bands on Finland’s Lion Music, whose modus operandi seems to be playing the most soulless, lite-metal/prog rock imaginable. Think a poor-man’s Symphony X, Dream Theater or Ayreon but with the Euro cheese of Vanden Plas or The Flower Kings mixed in. Former Yngwie vocalist, Goran Edman, provides a few moments of hope (Andersson reportedly wrote the music with Edman’s voice in mind) but even he devolves into some excessive histrionics and syrupy balladry that would make Styx blush. Andersson wrote everything, as well as undertaking the mix and master of OPTICAL ILLUSION, so Time Requiem is clearly his baby but it is safe to say this one is ready to be put to bed.
“Sin To Sin” drips with a majestic, film-score-like sound and Andersson’s fleet-fingered keyboard intro is certainly…fast. The band motors along and Edman’s soaring vocal saves the keyboard-heavy song from being too overexcited, but it still comes across as the soundtrack for a seven-year old who missed his daily dose of Ritalin. “The Talisman” is the album’s best track and Edman’s powerful voice resonates throughout. Jorg Andrews pummeling double bass and the crunchy guitars of Magnus Nilsson manage to remain a dominant force alongside Andersson’s keys. “Optical Illusion” sounds like a Styx song circa 1980, with overbearing, progressive keyboards, time changes and some pretentious sound effects meant, I suppose, to manifest a feeling of grandiosity to the listener. Instead, the music is stripped of any emotion by the mile-a-minute wankery and “look at what I can do” pomposity of the musicians. A similar effect plagues the seventies prog-influence felt on “Ocean Wings.” The war is on between Edman and Andersson as for who can generate more eye rolls. “Miracle Man” is the only other shining moment found on OPTICAL ILLUSION and even that is such a dated-sounding track that one must wonder where Andersson gets his creative juices from. Oozing with a “so-commercial-its-sick” vibe, “Miracle Man” is a welcome addition to a more simplistic approach, even with Nilsson’s blindingly-fast, shredding guitar solo. The previous seven songs are almost interchangeable in their “play-as-fast-as-we-can” pattern and a mid-tempo number is exactly what was needed.
Speed over substance. Showmanship over emotion. Indulgence over reservation. All sum up Time Requiem’s OPTICAL ILLUSION perfectly. Fans of fast, neo-classical prog metal might line up to get battered by this but for most people, it will be a cranial strain to sit through fifty minutes without at least popping a handful of Tylenol. Undoubtedly, Andersson & Co. are fabulous musicians as showcased here but why do guys like this always have to go SO overboard in showing it? Andersson’s website claims “This is an album for the true neoclassic metal connoisseur.\” Well, consider me a slack-jawed mouth breather then…
*NOTE: Cool album cover by Mathias Noren!!
KILLER KUTS: “Sin To Sin,” “The Talisman,” “Miracle Man”
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