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Secret of Astrology
Released: 2000, Limb Music
Here we have another hard to label artist by the name of Lana Lane. Secrets of Astrology delivers a diverse collection of songs with all the elements of progressive rock and metal, symphonic powermetal and atmospheric metal. A diverse collection that is held together by the passionate voice of American Lana Lane. This is the 5th full length release by Lane and the 9th overall. She is joined on this CD by her band which consists of Erik Norlander: all keyboards and also CD producer, Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Vengeance): guitar, Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder): fretless bass, David Victor (Velocity): guitar and Ed Warby (Ayreon, Gorefest): drums. The CDs basic tracks were recorded in the Dutch RS 29 Studio with Engineer Oskar Holleman who was a member of Vengeance and has been involved with the Ayreon project for the past few years. Norlander then returned to Los Angeles where the vocals and other finishing touches were added. Finally the CD was mastered in the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London.
The production on this CD is very crystal clear and very heavy. Norlander and Holleman giving the material a kick in the arse before the CD even kicks off. "Astrology Prelude" starts of the Cd with a heavy symphonic intro complete with keyboard loops and some cool drumming by warby. Of course the intro leads into the title track which is a mid tempo pseudo progressive track that deals with, you guessed it... Astrology. Lane stretches her vocal chords and sets the tone for things to come. Up next is the haunting ballad "Alexandria". This is not a commercial type radio ballad but more of the atmospheric emotional type. "Speed of Sound" is a power metal tune with a Lana Lane twist. Lane’s strong vocals power this song as does the double bass drumming of Warby and the ripping guitars of Victor and Lucassen. Norlander changes the sound up a bit by adding some Hammond organ. Very different sound for a power metal tune but very effective. Wizards and Gypsies make their appearance on "Tarot", a strong track which benefits from the use of harpsichord and an awesome organ solo from Norlander. I am usually not a big fan of the Hammond Organ, normally I hate it, but on this CD I find myself enjoying it greatly. I think its Norlander’s tasteful use of the instrument and how it interacts with Lane’s great voice. "Asherah" is an atmospheric mid tempo track that allows Lane to use her full vocal range and this woman shows that she has one awesome voice! The CD closes out with the bonus track "Rhapsody’ which is just an all out rocker. Great way to end a great CD.
When I first listened to this CD I was wary of the symphonic rock label put on Lana Lane. She has more in common with band like Elegy and Ian Parry’s solo work than any rock that is played on the radio. The music relies heavily on Norlander’s keyboards but there is lots of great guitar work contributed by Victor and Lucassen. Ed Warby sets "Secret of Astrology" apart from many other progressive type CDs with his tasteful double bass drumming. His manic footwork pops up all over the place and gives an added dimension to some of the tracks. The centerpiece of the CD is obviously the angelic voice of Lana Lane. This is one talented lady who has surrounded herself with some gifted musicians and created one great CD.
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