To be honest, I never was a huge fan of progressive metal. I’ve always considered DREAM THEATER boring, and back in the ’90s, I was more into the classic heavy / speed metal stuff rather than the wussy – as I used to call it back then – prog music. I still grow pustules every time I listen to bands like PAIN OF SALVATION or DREAM THEATER, however, I’ve always been intrigued by bands like POVERTY’S NO CRIME, LEVIATHAN, FATES WARNING, VANDEN PLAS, HORIZON’S END, etc. and I consider them an evolution of the kind of power metal which I used to (and still) adore.
The momentum of the prog / power scene is long gone, not because of the deficiency of smaller bands to release good albums, but mostly due to the inability of the so-called big names to keep the mainstream interest for the genre at high spirits. Therefore, for better or for worse, the prog / power genre has gone back again to its underground status.
Enter AFTERIMAGE, a long-time running project from the OMINOUS SKY singer -and longtime fan and supporter of the prog / power metal scene-, Chris Papadakis, And since 2018 was the year of the Dog, the time has come for AFTERIMAGE to release their very first album. Even though I am not an avid listener of that particular style, I was deeply surprised by the quality of the songs.
Firstly the album has more power metal & hard rock elements than progressive, so don’t expect lengthy songs full of instrumental improvisations and accentuated precision in everything. The prog elements exist mostly as references to both the lyricism and the lyrical maturity of the early 90’s power / prog bands like LETHAL, FATES WARNING or CONCEPTION. The overall sound is closer to bands like DOKKEN, FIFTH ANGEL (mostly in the second album), Q5 or HOUSE OF LORDS (though you’ll have to leave out the AOR elements). The guitar work is superb with twin harmonics, nicely placed leads and climatic themes which support Chris in delivering a magnificent dramatic performance. I have to add that Chris has a very special voice, which reminded me of Midnight, Harry Conklin (TITAN FORCE era), David Surkamp and very early Warrel Dane. And though at some points the Greek accent is obvious (as with most Greek singers) I wouldn’t say that it’s disturbing, since it adds character to the songs.
Should I seek any negative, I’d say that I would prefer an overall “thicker” sound since the final result sounds too thin to my ears.
Speaking of the songs, my picks would be “Traveler” (my favorite song of the album), “Phoenix”, “Reach for The Sky”, the hard rockish “Last Chance for Romance” (which is actually a cover and was originally included on the unreleased album of the hard rockers SAVAGE GRACE from Detroit, USA) and the moody “September” with a distinctly eerie feeling. Each of the songs is unique in its own way and all of them help to create a nostalgic broody, yet a quite refreshing mood. I’m sure listeners will definitely find something personal within the songs.
To make a long story short, “Traveler In Crystal Visions” is a very unique album. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it will definitely appeal to the more rigorous fans who seek out a connection above the level of the mere hearing.