HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Wuthering Heights - To Travel For Evermore

Combining to intriguing effect bombast and a certain boomy, even chaotic live feel (hit and misser Tommy Hansen is the knob-jobber), Denmark's Wuthering Heights return with their second album, a follow-up to '99's Within. Guitarist Erik Ravn is the band boss, but it is vocalist Kristian "Krille" Andren you might recognize, as the first Tad Morose vocalist, Andren not exactly disciplined or precise, but a dramatic, necessary element all the same. The sound of the band quite wisely flips over into prog metal, effectively sidestepping any and all power metal clichˇs, allowing melodies to wander and performances to flourish. The album is the second of a planned trilogy, but the story - revolving around a quest for truth - seems loose as articulated by Ravn, and even less defined through the lyrics. Still, a very cool vibe to this thing, somehow tinged with a hint of early Scorpions and Uli Jon Roth's spiritual solo material, spiced with a bunch of keys like Royal Hunt and lots of guitar shred as well, hammered by thick drum cannons.
Rating 7.5

Genius - Episode 1: A Human Into Dreams' World

After a gay spoken word intro that reminds me of naptime at Kindergarten or guest speaker in Grade 4, this Metal Opera/Leonardo/Ayreon-type concept album becomes quite enjoyable, most pertinently for the fact that it features a bunch of prog rock and prog balladry and not so much power metal. But other than that (and recurring visits from that creepy cult guy narrating like a robot), the dynamics make this quite the rock ride thrill, highlights being cameos from (a charmingly rough) Steve Walsh, elusive legend John Wetton acting highly dramatic and a chafing Chris Boltendahl being fiendish. It's funny though, the brains behind Genius is little known Italian Daniele Liverani, who, as it turns, has a penchant for lively, mature, living and breathing Royal Hunt-style atmospherics that don't exist within the juvenilia of Rhapsody. The story (set for 18 chapters and more than one album) revolves around the Genius character who endeavors to discover why people dream. It really ain't all that deep though, and the nice thing is is that these songs get up and going quickly, Daniele's organic textures helping to ease the power/prog pain of such pomp.
Rating 7.5

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