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Artizan - 'The Furthest Reaches' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     May 19, 2016    
 
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A straight ahead Metal album that is most likely to appeal to fans of classic bands like Iron Maiden, Dio and Queensrÿche.

'The Furthest Reaches' is Artizan's third release and one which the bio describes as both an "epic sci-fi concept album" and a "Metal Opera"; it tells the story of an alien race returning to Earth in response to a distress signal sent into space.

Musically it's a straight ahead Metal album that is most likely to appeal to fans of classic bands like Iron Maiden, Dio and Queensrÿche. Produced by Jim Morris (Iced Earth, Crimson Glory, Jag Panzer) and featuring guest appearances from Matt Barlow (ex-Iced Earth, Ashes Of Ares) and Sabrina Cruz (Seven Kingdoms), it's regarded by the band as their "heaviest and most Progressive" work to date. It's heavy enough for most Melodic Metal fans for sure, but I remain unconvinced that it's Progressive in any meaningful sense of the word.

There are some interesting things here. The album peaks with the run of tracks that begins with the nine and half minute title track (is that what they mean by "Progressive"?), takes in the drama of the slightly sinister 'The Cleansing' and ends with 'Wardens Of The New World'; the latter utilises light and shade and the vocals of Cruz to good effect. Either side, however, much of the material fails to inspire and huffs and puffs its way along a well trodden path. Sad to say that the occasional spoken sections and narration, which should add to the engagement value of the "concept", come across as contrived and poorly delivered.

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Fans may want to note that the album is available in standard and limited edition formats with different cover artworks. I've got to say that the artwork for the limited edition is more mature, more striking and more appealing.

The limited edition additionally features the bonus track 'Come Sail Away'; an interpretation of the Styx classic which, with its keyboard introduction, slow build up and strong melody actually offers something a bit different. I'm not a fan of cover versions particularly, but in this case I can't help thinking it should have been worked into the standard edition too.

Michael Anthony

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