An album from last year that I haven’t listened to enough is Redemption’s This Mortal Coil. I like Redemption and have been listening to them for a few years now, so it wasn’t that I didn’t want to listen to them. It always seemed that there was something else and Redemption’s album just wasn’t making it into my rotation. Plus the main album is over 70 minutes long and the additional tracks are over 35 minutes – That’s almost 110 minutes in total! Rob asked me to review it (and I wanted to) so the request pushed me to spin it a few times and post.
Progressive metal can be a risky proposition at times. There are a number of sub-genres and bands that sometimes challenge us with outstanding work and others that seem to be derivative, boring and not at all original. Redemption has ties (some are tenuous threads) to a number of bands both progressive and not, including Fate’s Warning, OSI, Arch/Matheos, Armored Saint, Symphony X and Agent Steel. Despite (or maybe because of) connections to those other groups, Redemption is an original band that isn’t derivative or boring. This Mortal Coil is their 5th album, the 4th with Ray Alder from Fate’s Warning on vocals. Immediately the album strikes me with a plethora of words to describe it: eloquent, emotional, inspirational, positive, true, cerebral, mature, technical, and heavy. Redemption seem to really have hit their stride with This Mortal Coil. In addition to the original material here, Redemption recorded six cover songs, all well done, most good choices. I am not sure how much of an influence any of these artists are/were for band members, but they strike me as songs one or more of them like.
It is rather well known that guitarist Nick Van Dyk, essentially the core and owner of Redemption, was diagnosed with cancer in late 2008. The lyrical content (as well as song titles like Departure of the Pale Horse, Blink of an Eye, Stronger Than Death, and the album title itself) is clearly a result of his battle against the disease and the remission he is experiencing now. On This Mortal Coil, Van Dyk and company have created an outstanding addition to the Redemption catalog as well as to the progressive metal genre.
I won’t do a song by song review here, but just point out some of the album highlights. Noonday Devil (http://youtu.be/TunUfsKQR3U) strikes me as the most intense and heaviest song of the bunch, truly a ripping song that is passionate, fast (for Redemption) and well written. Opener Path of the Whirlwind, complex, heavy and with great riffing throughout, is a tremendous start to the recording. Album closer Departure of the Pale Horse, is a bit of an epilogue to the whole thing, summing up the main messages of the album in one package. A couple songs may go on a bit too long, but overall this is a great listening experience.
The cover songs are all unexpected. Original artists include Elton John, Tori Amos, Toto, Journey, Starship, and UFO – not exactly the kind of songs one would expect on a progressive metal album. The Toto song, Hold the Line, was about the only one I was really familiar with prior to this. It is fine, but Redemption didn’t really seem to add anything but more of a metal feel to it. There is some Aldo Nova worship going on in the Starship tune and the guitar solo on Edge of the Blade (Journey) sounds like a Neal Schon reproduction. None of them are really must haves, unless you are a huge fan of one of the specific artists. They are OK, but don’t make or break the album for me.
Production is crisp and clear, just what one would expect from a modern progressive metal recording. Everyone contributes and nothing is too loud or drowned out.
Overall, This Mortal Coil is another well-done album by Redemption. If you are a fan of the progressive metal genre, I definitely recommend picking it up and spending some time with Nick Van Dyk and crew. Now if Fate’s Warning would just put something out!
I hear the sound in a METAL way.