REDEMPTION is an American progressive metal band that, unlike noteworthy but unnamed fellow American prog metal institutions, make excellent use of extremely long albums with meaningful lyrics, and excellent instrumental passages. The band is fronted by FATES WARNING vocalist Ray Alder, and features former FATES WARNING live guitarists Bernie Versailles and Nik Van Dyk (who is the band’s leader and songwriter). Versailles and Van Dyke, the band’s only remaining original members have had it rough in recent years, with regards to health scares. Their previous effort This Mortal Coil was inspired by an accidental diagnosis of terminal blood cancer in Nik Van Dyk, and their newest album, The Art of Loss (February 26 on Metal Blade Records) does not feature any performances from Bernie Versailles, who is recovering from a 2014 aneurysm.
The Art of Loss, in spite of it all, has a defiantly hopeful tone, with religious and spiritual overtones coming through the well crafted lyrics. In particular the album’s epic closing track stands out, “At Days End” which is a 22-minute exploration of the existential dread asking “If our perception causes us to go astray, who can try to help us to find our way?” rammed up against “Choices have consequences, limiting our future, and yet the weight of outcomes cannot be discerned.” This would be an absolute downer if not for Van Dyk doing exceptional double duty with outstanding riffs, and tasteful keyboard flourishes. In fact, the song manages to extract a remarkably hopeful message from such an awesomely intimidating conundrum.
The Art of Loss also features an all-star cast of guest guitarists filling in for Versailles, including DGM facemelter Simone Mularoni and MEGADETH veterans Marty Friedman, Chris Broderick and Chris Poland, who all provide an ample supply of shred throughout. Don’t let the weepy philosophical lyrics fool you, this album has some serious instrumental teeth. Mularoni in particular has outstanding solos on “The Art Of Loss” and “At Days End.” While The Art of Loss isn’t the genre-bending smorgasbord of musical diversity that I typically enjoy, it still grabs my attention for excellent delivery of instrumental complexity and progressive song structures.
This isn’t the most immediately gripping album (nor should a progressive one have to be), and it wasn’t obvious at first why I should like it. But it’s a well-crafted record with excellent performances and outstanding lyrics. Definitely recommended for fans of DREAM THEATER and FATES WARNING, as well as those with an appreciation for religious and spiritual themes in music. I’d been avoiding REDEMPTION for years, but this is ample inspiration for me to listen through their back catalog.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Art Of Loss”, “At Days End”, “Thirty Silver”