Millenium - Biography
This band's profile is 'invisible', meaning that it's much less prominent on the site - either because it's incomplete, or maybe doesn't entirely fit MS format.
Back in 1995 US outfit Eyewitness were one of the first signings of UK melodic rock label Now & Then Records. Formed by ex-Death guitarist Ralph Santolla, the Tampa-based foursome were completed by singer Todd Plant, drummer Oliver Hanson and bassist Steve Hodson. Their debut album was a fine slice of European sounding melodic metal, with soaring vocals and some fine lead playing from Santolla. After a well-received set at the 2nd Gods festival in the UK, their career unfortunately took a nosedive when their second opus - 'Messiah Complex' - proved to be darker and less accessible than the debut. Hailed by some as an under-rated masterpiece, their 1996 CD was only released in Japan. Forced into a rethink about the direction the band were heading in, it was decided that a new moniker was required and that a more straightforward melodic rock direction was the way to go. The first release from this new band would be the material that had originally sparked the label's interest. It was now 1997 and a new Millennium was in sight, so Millenium (consciously spelt with one 'n' to set it apart from the myriad uses of the word around at the time) seemed as good a name as any. The recordings were overdubbed and re-mixed and the self-titled CD was released later that year through Now & Then/MTM. The album was catchier and more melodic than the straight metal of Eyewitness, with greater use of keyboards and a brighter, slightly less European sound. It may not be as consistent as later Millenium CD's, but the soaring melodies of 'Believe In Love' and 'Invincible', the pounding 'Together As One', and the classy power ballad 'Almost Made It To Heaven' won back a lot of the fans that didn't understand 'Messiah Complex'. If 'Millenium' was a step in the right direction then nothing could have prepared the listener for the huge leap in quality that 1999's 'Angelfire' was, but not before there were some changes to the band's line-up. Joining Ralph on second guitar was Florida-based musician Shane French (also a member of Teer) and Austrian bassist Manfred Binder, a long-time associate of drummer Oliver Hanson. The record was tougher sounding with greater emphasis on the layered guitar harmonies of Ralph Santolla and Shane French, the pair created some wonderfully intricate riffs that provided extra hooks along with the already irresistible vocal melodies and harmonies. 'Angelfire' was over an hour of classic music, heavy but tuneful with barely an average song in sight, as shown here by the likes of 'Run', 'Until The Edge Of Time', 'Shamen', 'Beyond The Pain' and the incredible title-track. The CD was released in Europe through Now & Then/Frontiers Records and again through Nippon Crown for the Japanese market. Just before some warm-up dates in the UK with Bob Catley and another appearance at The Gods festival that year, a shock move saw the band replace singer Todd Plant with ex-Vagabond, The Snakes, Mundanus Imperium and Uli Jon Roth frontman Jorn Lande. A man with an incredibly powerful voice and a knack for sounding like many different singers at once (David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio to name two), Lande would have a major impact on the band's music, not only with his superior vocals, but also in both the writing and production areas. After a protracted period throughout 2000 recording in Florida and Norway, the band released arguably it's finest disc, 'Hourglass', again through Now & Then/Frontiers in Europe and Nippon Crown in Japan. With an improved sound and even more layered guitar and vocal overdubs, the album had just ten songs, but each one was of a very high standard - from the acapella vocal opening of 'The Power To Love' to the catchy 'I Still Believe', to the high drama of 'Chasing Time', and all points inbetween. Covering a variety of styles and tempos, 'Hourglass' is represented by six songs on this compilation, but the other four are just as good. The album was again premiered at The Gods festival, after which the band went on to play some shows in Spain with Ten and also did some recording for a proposed album of cover versions that was sadly never finished. The bonus tracks on the second disc of this CD include two unreleased Jorn Lande tracks from the 'Hourglass' sessions, 'Rain' and 'Anybody', as well as four demos from the Todd Plant era. The most interesting bonuses are the only four finished tracks from the aborted covers CD, all of which feature Jorn Lande and famed Ozzy/Rainbow/Ten keyboard player Don Airey and demonstrate the bands love of the original songs whilst at the same time making them their own. The members of Millenium separated soon after to concentrate on other things. Recently Todd Plant, who toured for a while with ex-members of the Doobie Brothers, has reunited with Ralph and Shane for a new Millenium album 'Jericho'. The CD includes a new version of 'Heresy', a song featured here in it's original demo form. The 'Best of Millenium' serves as a timely reminder of one of the most inventive and tuneful commercial metal bands of the last few years, the consistency of the songs and excellence of the performances is there for all to hear.