Mastermind: The Next 1000 Years Of Prog Rock Page 3
by Martin Popoff

Another odd twist on Angels Of The Apocalypse is the introduction of female vocalist Lisa Bouchelle. Bill expalins. "When we went out on tour in 1997 we did a lot of shows, like 30 or 40 shows in a row, and it was an experience for me. And I really came to the conclusion that I didn't want to be a lead singer. I mean, I always did that in the trio, but I'm a guitar player and that's what I wanted to do. So after we got back I decided I wanted to change things. We first did the Excelsior instrumental album with Jens, and that kind of cleared the slate I think. I knew I wanted to work with a vocalist and I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I knew Lisa from working in the studio and I saw her in a showcase club one night doing some heavy material and thought 'wow, she does that great!' So I invited her to come sing with the band and the audience went nuts so I just thought we would give it a shot. She's the best singer I know. To a degree, in our situation, you have to work with the talent that is available in the geographic area. I can't just say I want to work with somebody in Germany and have it happen overnight. And she is definitely the best vocalist I knew personally."

Lyrically the album is a concept album, although tracks are quite immediate and hooky, despite the exotic window-dressing afforded the Johansson/Berends duels and Bouchelle's gothic vocals. "The concept of Angels, this idea of the apocalypse to me, was more personal. Of course there was so much hype from television and the media about Y2K, so I thought, what if something big really was to happen? What would you think about? Did I live my life enough to make it worth doing? So the song comments on that, and then the things we were looking at at the time, like Perchance To Dream came about when they were starting to bomb Europe; that also has a Biblical tie-in with the end of the world, and it's just kind of reflective of things like war, love, money, life." The band's cover of Emerson Lake & Palmer's The Endless Enigma, recorded for a tribute album that fell through, was even fit into the storyline, making the record a seamless look at inner turmoil on the cusp of catastrophe.

"Boy, I just wish people would just sit down and listen to the music and let it hit them the way it hits them," offers Berends as a closing pointer. "A lot of people spend too much time comparing this and that. There is so much music in the world. That would be my only comment. Just let people hear it for themselves."