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Suspyre - When Time Fades...               9/10

By Olav Björnsen

Suspyre - When Time Fades...Despite being formed way back in 2001, U.S. band Suspyre is still one of those acts that has the tag “young and talented” attached to them, which is understandable as the band members are in their early 20s. They have been active in their pursuit of artistic and commercial success though, and now in 2008 their third full-length album "When Times Fades..." will be released by Sensory Records.

Suspyre has made a name for themselves by combining musical elements from many different genres in a unique and complex musical mix with a solid foundation in melodic power metal. There are plenty of other bands around doing the same of course, but most of these other acts have ended up sounding like something else than just metal when doing so - often veering towards fusion in style when adding jazz elements for instance. Suspyre's major achievement has been to incorporate elements from mainly classical music and jazz while still playing a style of music that by most is regarded as metal, and due to the complex nature of their compositions they have been classified as a progressive metal band.

When Time Fades...is a solid piece of work. They have continued developing their boundary-breaking compositions, and this time around the input from other musical genres are more incorporated in the songs. There are still quite a few instances of segments in the tunes where the classical influences in particular will dominate, but more often than not the jazz and classical influences will be added to the metal foundation the band explores rather than being explored in individual parts. When a saxophone solo appears underscored by dark and gritty metal riffs it feels natural, when the synths add symphonic layers it fits the musical patterns explored, whether it's single, dual-layered, multi-layered or orchestrated in style.

The compositions on this album are complex, as noted. Besides the elements mentioned above adding texture and tension to the songs, the main and dominating element in all the tunes will obviously be the guitars. We are talking metal after all, and the guitar will always be the dominating instrument in this style. On this album there are basically two extremely different approaches explored. The main approach is to utilize the guitar in quirky, staccato patterns. More often than not these are arrhythmic, and usually a pattern will evolve rather quickly, thus supplying a constant change in the songs. These patterns don't change into more and more complex structures too often though, instead the band will seek out disharmonic and dissonant musical landscapes, often in combination with synths, and the guitar pattern have a tendency to gradually dissolve, sometimes to the point of decomposing, before a new pattern starts out. For the avid listener this makes the tunes here quite challenging to listen to at times, and you'll have to listen to this album many times to manage to catch all the details and nuances. To add some relief and contrast to the compositions, Suspyre usually include melodic, more generic power metal segments in their songs, too, seeing to it that a more mainstream-oriented metal audience will find their tastes catered for, too.

The general sound and mood on this album is rather dark and grim. We're not talking utter hopelessness, darkness and despair, but a more general non-optimistic atmosphere where the complexity of the compositions and the guitar sound create an atmosphere more dark than aggressive. It's not an album that will make anyone depressed, but if already in a negative state of mind the songs here won't be experienced as uplifting - to put it that way.

Overall this is a release that should interest fans of power and progressive metal, and in particular those who fancy the more complex side of these musical styles. As far as this music style goes, I doubt if there will be many other albums in 2008 surpassing this one in quality.

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