Waves Of Destruction
Released: 2016, Freia
There are certain patterns in how certain types of bands present their songs, sequencing, structure, style and so on. For example, often a Power Metal album will start with an epic, orchestral instrumental introduction then move onto two or three fast songs, something more experimental, a ballad and maybe end off with cover tune or an epic tune. It’s quite a common way to sequence songs. Alarion seems to have forgotten to read that memo! I’ll explain why in a moment.
Alarion is the new, multi-genre, multi-faceted project developed by Dutch musician, Bas Willemsen. In my mind he is the new Arjen Lucassen! WAVES OF DESTRUCTION is a pretty big undertaking with Willemsen as the main composer and musician but he has a dozen guest stars appear on this ambitious and attractive album. The hour-long conceptual album was released in June of 2016 and has already logged some decent playtime in my players.
ALARION is Progressive Power metal that doesn’t follow the rules. The album starts, just ‘bang!’ dives right into it, no set up, no narration, no intro, with a punchy opener called ‘Chains Of The Collective. It is a bit disconcerting. Up next is a spoken word narration then into the nine minute long title track. The song itself is a multi-layered piece with very mellow interludes and just superb musicianship and composition. There are three instrumental, acoustic, narrative interludes and a couple of songs that stretch out into the 10-minute range. Oddly enough the album ends with an dramatically shortened acoustic version of the cut, ‘Turn Of Fate’. I can’t help but feel that the album might have more impact if it was sequenced differently. It’s not bad, at all, the albums flows nicely, songs seem to blend all together with a bit of a soundtrack feel to all of it. Obviously Willemsen is innovative and creative and doesn’t mind breaking some of those conventions, which is what progressive music is about.
The primary male vocalist is none other than Mr. Damien Wilson (Threshold, Star One) and the primary female vocalist is Irene Jansen (Star One, Ayreon) and there are a dozen more guests from the underground scene in the Netherlands. Both deliver quality performances and Wilson shines on the probably the heaviest cut, ‘Colourblind’. The songs ebb and flow and perhaps it is not surprising reminding me of the top-notch work of Star One and Ayrton.
In my experience these types of projects can have a limited appeal and short shelf-life. Some have longevity (Avanatasia, Ayreon) but more often than not, listeners find some of these projects hard to grasp and the metal battlefield is littered with these types of projects (Aina, Gentle Storm, Genius, Missa Mecuria etc). Whether Alarion will capture the broader audiences imagination remains to be seen but it certainly made a good impression on me!