Chapter II: Aftermath
posted on 1/2009 By:
I struggled with this review for about a month—Harmony is the kind of band that I appreciate, but also the kind of band that doesn’t always engender a deep emotional connection with me, the kind of band that I respect but that doesn’t really “click.” I can’t put my finger on a specific reason for that, but it’s true. It’s not them; it’s me. I have some great records by great bands in this field already, and I guess I’m just not on the lookout for another one, no matter how competent they may be.
Slippery-slick power/prog metal, Harmony is nearly identical to power/proggers Darkwater, in sound but mostly in personnel. Prior to the release of this record, the only difference between the two acts had been Harmony’s substitution of Narnia/Rob Rock bassist Andreas Olsson in place of Darkwater’s Karl Wassholm. (That said, according to the Ulterium Records website, Olsson is no longer a member of Harmony and ex-Pain Of Salvation-er Kristoffer Gildenloew handled the low strings on Aftermath.)
I mention the bands above not only for biographical information, but also because they’re mostly decent comparisons to Harmony. Like what I've heard of Darkwater, Aftermath is crisp, clear, and shiny, powerful in the sense of soaring melodies, and possessing some serious progressive/neo-classical tendencies and some dark touches in keyboards of Magnus Holmberg. Also, in the vein of Narnia and Rob Rock, the lyrical matter is positive and Christian-themed, so think of that what you will. Regardless of lyrical slant, there’s no denying that these guys can play—guitarist Markus Sigfridsson has an amazing grasp of Malmsteen/Helloween power-shred, in addition to possessing perhaps the most Swedish-est name humanly possible. Vocalist Henrik Bath has a clean, high voice—no growling, no edge. His only failure is in that last bit, in the fact that his voice is too pure—it’s not wimpy, really, but yet it’s lacking the grit or the anger to make me really dig in and love this. He doesn’t sound chipper—for that I’m thankful, as happy metal is usually hard to stomach—he’s more on the forlorn, gothic-operatic side, and in that fact, he reminds me sometimes of Ray Alder (Fates Warning), despite that he actually doesn’t sound that much like Ray. The songs on Aftermath are good without being great—I find myself wishing that the chorus of a song like “Prevail” would lift even higher than it does, would be even bigger, even more powerful. Only a few songs really succeed completely, “Rain” being the best of the bunch, and overall, I think Harmony would be better suited with a little more fire in their guts and some stronger hooks in their tunes.
My initial reaction to this was that it was just another power/prog record with little, if anything, to offer to anyone but the already-converted. Then, over more than a few listens, I enjoyed this record more than I thought at first—and then, conversely, after not listening for a few weeks, my opinion shifted back, and that leaves me in the middle ground. I like this well enough to listen to it, but I certainly don’t love it. (In that respect, Harmony has yet one more thing in common with Narnia and Rob Rock.) Those among you who can appreciate the Christian message and who love the neo-classical side of power metal will find this to be a solid record, but I can’t say that Aftermath is essential or even anything more than casually and respectfully half-recommended.
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