Rating:
N/A
Grand Master - The Dream Alive
2012


01. The Dream Alive Pt. I - Ascensions
02. Tragic Harvest
03. Chaos Capital
04. Moonlit Cemetery
05. At Death
06. The Grand Exorcism Pt. II - Toy Machine
07. The Dream Alive Pt. II - Reflections


Rating in words: Your level of appreciation for this will depend on a lot of factors - I personally can't make up my mind on it for weeks now.

You might have noticed that I have a routine of genre-tagging bands right in the first paragraph of a review I'm writing, in case my readers aren't bored enough to go through 300 words describing an album which is not of interest to them. Well, this time you'll just have to read the review, because this stuff is hard to pigeonhole.

Prominent bass, prominent drums (I quit counting around the sixth drum solo), a guitar player channeling every (positive) cliché in metal guitar, from riffs and guitarmonies laden with Maiden-worship to classic shredding, short appearances of synths/piano and a singer with a gentle, melodious approach take you on a journey through heavy, prog, thrash, and Opethian - or more precisely, Damnation-esque - ballads. Random cameos of other (metal and non-metal) subgenres find their place here as well. The genre-hopping doesn't take place within songs themselves - each (long!) song is mostly dedicated to one particular "style".

The Dream Alive reminded me of the feeling I got when I listened to Dream Theater's "Octavarium" for the first time. For the confused crowd, "Octavarium" (the track) relies partly on little musical references to the band's influences and idols so everyone's first listen consists of picking up little cues and finding nuggets. Grand Master placed some similar nuggets throughout the album, though in a less subtle fashion - for example, the entire intro to "Flash Of The Blade" found its place on "Tragic Harvest" and "Chaos Capital" resembles late 70's Rush so much, the singer/bassist adopts a Geddy Lee approach to vocals to go with it. It goes without saying that this might turn you on or off, depending on your mood.

This story ends where it began - with a little genre dilemma. Grand Master describe themselves as a progressive metal band. Now, the line between prog and non-prog is blurry and I'm far from claiming my opinion on the subject is a definitive one, but their sound for the most part differs from the sound of established progressive metal bands. Are they "progressive" in a sense that their music isn't forward-thinking and weird enough to be marked as avant-garde, but is still different from the usual approach? I'm leaning towards "yes". The song structures are far from Unexpect but are unconventional and the contrasts generated by the aforementioned genre-hopping aren't that sharp because the genres in question are traditional - it's almost like some primordial metal ooze. The key word is variety. If the references to the band's influences and the fact this can get disjointed at times don't turn you off, you know what to do.


 



Written on 08.05.2012 by
Milena
A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.
More reviews by Milena ››



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Troy Killjoy - 08.05.2012 at 17:35  
Rush, Dream Theater, Opeth. Nope.

Great review, especially the first few paragraphs. I didn't really like the ending discussing prog vs. non-prog as much but it illustrates the point that this band is hard to pigeonhole, which was your opening paragraph so it all works out in the end.
Unhealer - 08.05.2012 at 18:02  
Nice review. I can't quite picture how this sounds based on the read though, but I'm loving genre-hoppers lately so I surely will check these guys out.

I had that "avant-garde or prog?" struggle with Dissona. It's definitely prog but also far from your average prog band.
theFIST - 08.05.2012 at 21:27  
Liked it until the 3rd comma of the 3rd paragraph
Zaphod - 09.05.2012 at 22:46  
Nice review, I checked out Ascensions and really liked that song. Now, if what you say is true, then most songs on the album sound different so I'm not sure I'll like the whole thing.
RavenKing - 10.05.2012 at 02:10  
Quoting Mora: the entire intro to "Flash Of The Blade" found its place on "Tragic Harvest"

Gamma Ray already made this rip off on "LOTF II" (I don't remember the song).
Milena - 10.05.2012 at 19:00  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 08.05.2012 at 17:35

Rush, Dream Theater, Opeth. Nope.

Great review, especially the first few paragraphs. I didn't really like the ending discussing prog vs. non-prog as much but it illustrates the point that this band is hard to pigeonhole, which was your opening paragraph so it all works out in the end.


Tbh, only the one song I've mentioned sounds like Rush, and the Dream Theater reference was more of a feel than the actual sound. Out of the three bands, the most noticable influence is Opeth, but it's not like even Opeth themselves invented the "murky ballad" thing these lads are fairly original.

Since I mentioned Octavarium, I felt obliged to "come full circle" with my review, but file that under me being a silly fan You know I'm not really obsessed with genre tags, since at least 60% of metalheads use all sorts of tags erroneously and they've become more like guidelines; however, when I'm writing an official review I like mentioning them and discussing them, since that's what people want in a review.
Milena - 10.05.2012 at 19:00  
Written by RavenKing on 10.05.2012 at 02:10

Quoting Mora: the entire intro to "Flash Of The Blade" found its place on "Tragic Harvest"

Gamma Ray already made this rip off on "LOTF II" (I don't remember the song).

I wouldn't call it a "ripoff" myself, since they've mentioned using that sample in the note on the back of their CD cover, but I guess that's just a semantics issue
RavenKing - 11.05.2012 at 00:40  
Written by Milena on 10.05.2012 at 19:00

Written by RavenKing on 10.05.2012 at 02:10

Quoting Mora: the entire intro to "Flash Of The Blade" found its place on "Tragic Harvest"

Gamma Ray already made this rip off on "LOTF II" (I don't remember the song).

I wouldn't call it a "ripoff" myself, since they've mentioned using that sample in the note on the back of their CD cover, but I guess that's just a semantics issue


I see. But in Gamma Ray's case they never mentioned the original and the similarity is obvious. Listen to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSZKPNdcUFw&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLD85718B9E6D3C050

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