Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 3/11/2003
posted on 3/2003 By:
After their brilliant debut, Extension of the Wish, the Swedish progressive-metal group Andromeda has finally delivered the much-anticipated follow-up album II=I (huh?). Unfortunately, this album has not lived up to my high expectations, but it's slowly growing on me. Fans of the first album may be disappointed with this one due to its less-aggressive approach. While certain tracks evoke their earlier material, much of II=I has more of a Dream Theater-tilt to it. In other parts, I hear influences from Symphony-X, Evergrey and Porcupine Tree (from what little PT I've heard). The production is pretty damn perfect, balancing the keys, guitars and bass nicely. One major change is the acquisition of a full-time vocalist, David Fremberg, replacing the session vocalist from last time. The problem is that I thought the old guy had a unique clean voice. Fremberg, while obviously a skillful singer, is a bit generic along the lines of Michael Romeo(Symphony X). The mastermind behind the group is Johan Reinholdz, who also handles guitar duties for Nonexist, Johan Liiva's(ex-Arch Enemy) band. The flashes of virtuosity so prevalent on the debut show up less often here. The same description can be applied to the blazing keyboards that were all over Extension. Basically, more prog, less metal. Is that a bad thing? Well, let's just say that most of the time I'd rather listen to Vader than Dream Theater. On to the album... It opens up with "Encyclopedia", which I found to be an odd choice, since it's not too gripping of a song. Heavy riffs end too quickly leading into strange bass lines which are complimented with some great drumming. In all, this song has a lot of promising ideas that just don't tie together very well. "Mirages" starts off heavy and plodding with some nice guitar and keyboard leads a minute in. Then right after a sweet solo the song just sort of stops for a good 30 seconds before kicking in with the heaviness. One of the better songs on here, "Reaching Deep Within", is a slower one that could've been pulled from the Symphony-X catalog. Great keys can be found here, both atmospheric and as leads. "Morphing Into Nothing" is my favorite song; a ripping instrumental that's classic (circa-2001) Andromeda. Other points to note are the cool, evil-carnival-style keys that show up in "Parasite" and "This Final Surface", and the very cheesy chorus that brings down an enchanting slower song, "Castaway". II=I is a different album than many expected, seeing the band get more experimental, for better or worse. Initially, I wanted to give this one a scathing review, but every listen gets better and better, dammit! Fans of progressive rock/metal should have some fun with this album, while most metalheads might want to sample a few songs first. It's a grower.
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