Released: 2015, Pure Steel Records
I have been following Jacksonville, Florida’s Artizan since their 2009 self-titled EP. The band is now set to release their third full-length on Pure Steel Records titled THE FURTHEST REACHES. Having added another guitar player in Bill Staley, THE FURTHEST REACHES is a conceptual metal opera that involves an alien race visiting earth after receiving a distress signal in space. The band’s growth and ambition are apparent, as Artizan continues to employ progressive, melodic and classic metal into a style that is uniquely their own.
THE FURTHEST REACHES is unquestionably the band’s heaviest album thus far, with “Summon The Gods” leading the way with its piston-like opening intro. Tom Braden’s vocals continue to be clear, confident, and relaxed as he wields his way through this often progressive, melodic story. The songs are carefully crafted and arranged, while containing a great deal of variety. Witness “The Cleansing” with its dark foreboding entry setting the stage for a guest appearance from Matt Barlow (ex Iced Earth) playing the role of The Keepers. Sabrina Cruz (Seven Kingdoms) handles the lion’s share of the vocals on the signature track “Wardens Of The New World.” It is a testament to the strength and writing of the songs that Cruz fits so perfectly, and for one brief moment Artizan feels like a new but equally impressive band.
Musically, drummer Ty Tammeus continues to be rock solid, but it is the complimentary thump of bassist Jonathan Jennings that really stands apart on this album, receiving prominent placement in the mix. The guitar work continues to be a balanced combination of melody and riff, in a word: economical. This tandem does not waste notes and avoids overplaying. Once again Artrizan has wisely enlisted Jim Morrison to handle production duties, the result being what I would consider to be the band’s best sounding album.
The album ends in grand fashion on the track “Into The Sun”, which vies with “Wardens Of The New World” for best song on the album. The limited edition of the album concludes instead with a bonus cover of Styx’s “Come Sail Away”, which Braden nails with faithful perfection. I have always felt that the opening half of the original song was anemic, and unfortunately the band does nothing to strengthen or imbue this part with heaviness. As covers go though, it is a meticulously crafted and unswerving rendering of the original that fits the band’s personality, but never strays too far Styx’s version. All told, Artizan continues to impress and build upon an admirable catalog, and any fan of progressive and classic metal should welcome the new release.