Jan-Simon : There are not many music genres with such a poor reputation as progressive rock (or metal). The ambitious mixture of styles, the desire to do more than the standard three chords of rock ‘n’ roll and the exceptional musical prowess of many bands – often it has been ridiculed as pretentious fiddle-faddle. Navel gazing of the highest order and it was only logical that punk emerged as a reaction. As often this is not completely true. Many well-known punk rockers turned out to be (secret) fans of bands like Van der Graaf Generator, Rush or Magma. But all the criticism was not completely made up out of thin air. Progressive rock (metal) tends to degenerate into unnecessary use of complicated times and not everyone knows how to make songs in 13/16 or 6/4 instead of the common four-four. Only the really great can make this work and the rest is – indeed – pretentious fiddle-faddle.
At first it was difficult to place the Belgian band Endtime Odyssey. Their first, self-released album ‘City In Decay’ starts off with some serious heavy rocking. ‘Burned Up’ is the most metal of all songs on the album, with strong guitar riffing and almost blastbeat like drumming. But we can also hear the later on omnipresent eighties keyboards provided by Veronika Martinová. And the band’s most characteristic trademark: the truly mediocre vocals. Sorry, Lio Meessen sings out of tune, has a rather thin voice and it almost seems as if his lines have been mixed up during editing. It seems as if they do not go with the rest of the music. The combination with the rather random sounding – and not always in tune either – keys that seem to have been pur sprayed all over the place make Endtime Odyssey has less in common with the dreamed examples Dream Theater or Symphony X and sounds more like a bizarre metalized version of Ultravox. The result is really cringeworthy but there is a glimmer of hope. In the sparse moments the band is reduced to a power trio we hear the talent of drummer Steve Vanderperren and a truly talented band seems to rise from the murky mess that is ‘City in Decay’. There is no lack of ideas in Endtime Odyssey. It just becomes painfully evident that there is a huge gap between idea and execution. ‘City In Decay’ will probably only confirm all progrock haters in their prejudice.