Jori : Now first I have to dry my eyes before I can commence typing... Right, where were we at? Ah yes, reviewing this masterpiece!
After his last band decided to go on a hiatus, guitarist Tom Frelek started working on his own material and he conscripted some veterans from the scene to bring the material to life. The resulting all-(modest-)star formation goes with a banner inscripted with the word Waken Eyes, and the result of the joint efforts is called ‘Exodus’. It goes without saying that we want to know the names of the otter chaps. Well, it concerns singer Henrik Båth (Darkwater), bassist Mike Lepont (Symphony X) and drumming genius Marco Minnemann (among others The Aristocrats).
Now the music itself, for that is what matters isn’t it? On ‘Exodus’ we can find no less than eighty minutes of progressive melodic metal of an unbelievable level, and varying from beautiful acoustic passages to fully ripping metal. The whole thing is very diverse and the band manages to grasp my focus for the full eighty minutes. Most of the musicians have proven their value over and over. Except for the value of Tom which was yet to be confirmed, well, here you have it! The vocals by Henrik are amazing, he sings the songs with a lot of emotion, which makes every word sound honest and meant. Most impressed am I by Marko’s incredible drumming, what a born musician the man is! The whole album is about courage and fearlessness, and within the theme the variation is splendid. On the single ‘Back To Life’ (with six minutes the shortest of the songs) the music builds on a speech by Martin Luther King. Also darker topics are featured, like our thoughts and emotions being controlled by world leaders and media, which is of course a very actual topic nowadays. A song like ‘Palisades’ proves that prog can also by pretty heavy. The songs features double bass drums and fipping guitar riffs, but at the same time it is very beautiful. In fact, I have a little say about every song, but that is a waste of your time. Yet there is one song that needs special notion.
Completely in Dream Theater style, the album is closed with an almost twenty minute epic, being also the title track of the album. An atmospheric introduction sucks us into this spectacle, in which the main music kicks in after two and a half minute. This diverse sound spectacle is interupted by an unfortunately poorly heard, but a so true and also creepy actual quote by the British philosopher Bertrand Russel, which fits the song perfectly and impresses me a great deal. The song brings the album to a grand end, an end that can only be greeted with the replay button.
It has been a while since my eyes were moist after listening to a new piece of music and this record will be pulled out of the showcase many a time. The grand question of course, can we expect more of this foursome? Three out of four are probably busy enough with their own bands and projects, so Waken Eyes might not be their number one priority. We can only hope, for this album leaves craving for more, much more!