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Smoke and Origination
Released: 2006, Independent
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
It is with great trepidation that I approach this review of Christopher’s SMOKE AND ORIGINATION. Try as I might, there is not a single shred of metal to be found in the album’s seventy-minute length and other than sporting long hair, Christopher doesn’t look like he does much headbanging, either.
So why bother reviewing it for Metal-Rules.com, you ask?
What SMOKE AND ORIGINATION does possess is a very dark ambience that runs the gamut of world music, tribal beats, prog rock, industrial, classical, and Gothic influences. Listeners in search of something eclectic and original will be further inspired by Christopher’s voice, which is simply amazing. He even auditioned for the vocalist position in Poisonblack in 2004 before Ville Laihiala decided to front the band himself. Essentially a one-man band, it seems like most of the music found here has been created on a computer and keyboard and Christopher’s impressive choral skills make the CD sound much richer and fuller than an average indie release. Even the packaging—the press kit comes housed in an Amaray DVD keepcase with a spiffy booklet and second CD containing all the artist’s information—stands head and shoulders above the usual CD-R and photocopied bio written by the bass player’s girlfriend that accompanies most indie releases sent our way. The man definitely gets bonus points for marketing! At the same time, though, Christopher seems wholly devoid of humility and the overblown hype surrounding everything about him seems a bit grandiose and contrived but well worth kicking back for a tour of world music wrapped up in an ambient and catchy package.
What is most striking about SMOKE AND ORIGINATION is the vocals. Christopher’s voice is extremely versatile, going from a choirboy-like alto to a croon not unlike that of Queensryche’s Geoff Tate on “This Is Your Plague.” Spoken word sections and even similarities to such diverse acts as Sigur Ros, Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode and Pink Floyd populate the CD. Christopher is a master at creating ambience and listening to SMOKE AND ORIGINATION in a darkened room with your eyes shut and headphones on is an absolute must. The African beats of “The Following Visual Was Staged” and the Middle Eastern flourishes that run through “Spaghetti Terrorist” are nerve-tingling, while “Sharp Knives” and the Depeche Mode-like “The Derivative Hearts” explode with an immediate accessibility. Even the more artsy, ethereal moments of “Again” and the sprawling “The Wraith’s Progress” are hypnotic in their delivery and composition.
The only problem with SMOKE AND ORIGINATION lies in its length and the air of pomposity that permeates everything. Most one-man band projects are seen as an exercise in megalomaniacal extravagance and self-indulgence and this is no exception. There is so such packed into this CD that it seems as if Christopher just slapped everything he had on CD without any editorial direction or thoughts of less is more (the entire first draft of SMOKE AND ORIGINATION was destroyed in a fire and had to re-recorded) and the result can be overwhelming. It takes several sessions to really absorb everything presented here and it is uncertain whether many people will have the patience or interest to do so but for those that do, SMOKE AND ORIGINATION showcases a tremendous amount of talent that will not be confined to one genre of music.
KILLER KUTS: “This Is Your Plague,” “Sharp Knives,” “Frailty Scan,” “An Addendum,” “The Derivative Hearts”
1. The Summoning Vector (Instrumental)
2. This Is Your Plague
3. Sunday Is Falling Apart
4. The Following Visual Was Staged
5. Spaghetti Terrorist
i) Arms Without Their Tyrant
iii) The Lunatic Has An Understudy
iv) Fly Free, Cancer Angel
6. Sharp Knives
7. Frailty Scan
8. Purpose? (Instrumental)
9. An Addendum
10. The Wraith's Progress (Instrumental)
i) The Ascension, The Geometry, The Horror
ii) EMF 2 Step – Film Noir Crawl
iii) The Oppressive Sphere – Amputee In A Circular Room
11. The Derivative Hearts
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