Ten whole years – that’s how long it took PROJECT ARCADIA to make their return. The prog/power band from Bulgaria released their debut, “From the Desert of Desire”, in 2009. Plamen Uzunov, guitarist, main composer and mastermind of the group, had to change their line-up almost completely in order to bring out their brilliant sophomore album, “A Time of Changes”. This time, the band’s reformation has been even more drastic since no member other than himself has remained in PROJECT ARCADIA. New line-up is made of Venezuelanian Deibys Artigas on vocals, Bulgarian shredder Milcho Kolev on guitars, English bassist Rich Gray and Italian drummer Fabio Alessandrini.
So, first of all, in this third album of PROJECT ARCADIA, there’s a noticeable change of vocals; more hard-rock mellowness, less sharpness. Well, as a matter of fact, the whole album is focused on the warmth of melody and any other element, power or progness, is secondary. But don’t get me wrong! This is NO nerveless, bland album – on the contrary, it is FULL OF ENERGY AND CREATIVITY! To tell the truth, no fancy improvisations nor overwhelming riffs were ever included in PROJECT ARCADIA’s music; it was all about well-placed ideas and neat musicianship serving the development of some really remarkable compositions. The difference in “Of Sins and Other Tales” is that intensity and heaviness have been polished, acquiring the tone needed to showcase the melodic style. I emphasize that they didn’t get any softer nor weaker! If anything, they do play MORE AGGRESSIVE than they did in “A Time of Changes” but they expressed themselves in a more sophisticated way. I have the feeling that this had to be a daring decision for both Plamen Uzunov and Marko Tervonen who mixed and mastered the album; they made up their mind to sound clearer, more emotional, balancing the powerfulness with lyricism. In my humble opinion, their intention has not been to take anything by force but they aimed straight for the heart.
After all the above, allow me to go back to the band’s new singer and his amazing voice. Deibys Artigas also shares credits for song-writing of three tracks, so he undoubtedly defines the sound of PROJECT ARCADIA in this work. And yes, he does so in a great way, indeed!
Urban Breed (TAD MOROSE, SERIOUS BLACK), the man behind the microphone in “A Time of Changes” is still here, sharing credits with Plamen Uzunov for both the music and the lyrics of “Sweet Scented Madness” while Alex Athanassov, vocalist in “From the Desert of Desire”, contributed in the writing of two songs and ex-lead guitarist Emil “The Lemon” Rachev offered an acoustic guitar solo on “Greed”. It seems that despite the line-up’s changes, the pack is holding strong, all gathered around Plamen Uzunov to share his vision under the name of PROJECT ARCADIA.
A vision that offered us an EXCELLENT new album, a perfect successor for their sophomore one, an overall BETTER work I could say; the band is in great shape, through all those years and changes they definitely improved, they all did an INCREDIBLE job, delivering a wonderful underground album and THAT’s ALL that matters in the end!
If you listen to opening track, “Rusty Cage” you will instantly understand what “Of Sins and Other Tales” is about and what I really mean by saying that the band is still both loud and sturdy, ass-kicking but in the most tuneful way possible! “Envy” that follows, simply proves this to be undeniably true. “Sweet Scented Madness” and “To My Muse” are two easy-going and uplifting songs, no match for the progressive power rock anthems that “The Portrait”, “The Forgotten Ones” and “The Hourglass” are – three fine examples of outstanding melodic metal work, reminding PYRAMAZE or even SHADOW GALLERY, the highlights of the album! Finally, “Greed” and “Anger” offer some real fast heaviness, being ideal as closing tracks, giving us the taste of thrashy heavy/power aspect of the band.
Both Plamen Uzunov and Milcho Kolev play astoundingly and they make a dazzling guitar duo. Deibys Artigas is a real game changer with his vocal performance and Rich Gray together with Fabio Alessandrini create a flawless, solid rhythm section – no less was expected by guys who had their place in a band such as ANNIHILATOR.
Yes, PROJECT ARCADIA are back; and hopefully, they are back for good!
“Of Sins and Other Tales” was released on January 30th by PA Music on CD.
Check the discussion about the album in our forum pages.
You can order the CD here.