Snowfall on Judgment Day
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Formed in Los Angeles, California in 2000 by guitarist / keyboardist / songwriter Nicolas van Dyk, the band features legendary progressive metal vocalist Ray Alder of Fates Warning, as well as guitarist Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel), the phenomenal rhythm section of Chris Quirarte (drums) and Sean Andrews (bass) and the keyboard talents of Greg Hosharian. Through the band's first three studios CDs (2002s self-titled first release, 2005's The Fullness of Time and 2007's The Origins of Ruin), REDEMPTION has gained a loyal fanbase and garnered rave reviews worldwide from critics. The band's 4th studio-album, Snowfall On Judgment Day, features more mature songwriting than ever before and shows the band taking several steps beyond the quality of their previous output, and standing out from the rest of the crowd in the progressive metal scene with their unique brand of heavy, melodic and emotionally powerful music. REDEMPTION has clearly delivered their best album to date - an album that will stand as a watermark for progressive metal for years to come
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The production lends a lot to the album's penetrating feeling of deep, sharp cold, and in that light it's a truly masterful work of sound engineering, mixing, and mastering. The tone set by all stages of production enhances the sense of coldness set by the masterful composition of the music and the desperate, yet somehow still hopeful lyrics. The band's technical virtuosity and exactingly precise execution are highlighted by this approach; the thin and icy keyboard solos punctuate razor sharp guitar riffs that burn through the thin, isolating EQ work on each. The bass provides an immensely powerful, glacial undercurrent of pressure onward, and the drums hit with all the violence and chaos of an unexpected hailstorm. It might seem on first listen (as it seems to have for a few other reviewers) like simply a poor or ignorant choice in EQing and compressing, but within the context of Redemption's other work it seems to me like an intentional, artistic choice for the overall sound.
The album is loud, explosive, and tumultuous despite the somewhat sharp isolation between instruments and sounds, but there are enough dynamic lulls in the onslaught to keep even the 71 minute run time from feeling like a chore to listen to in one sitting. As expected, there are all the requisite "proggy" time and key changes, but the astounding thing about this effort is how seamlessly these changes are introduced and executed... and how not one of them distracts the listener from the delivery of the overarching theme. Rather, each instrumental passage feels like a passionate embellishment of the particular lyrical content of the respective song and of the album as a whole. Each odd-signature transition feels like an indispensable part of the story, and each key change and accidental (musical accidental, not accident of performance) genuinely lends something meaningful. None of their virtuosity precludes engagement with or involvement by the listener, and that is a very difficult thing to pull of when writing music with this degree of complexity.
Ray's highly emotional, personal tone implores you to follow him into this storm of sound, and his delivery amidst such a torrent of beautifully orchestrated musical chaos evokes a truly compelling emotional harmony with the lyrics. The production brings the subtleties of his delivery forward, and as a result he flawlessly exercises his ability to both add to the musical terror of the storm, and to portray the fear and helplessness of a person in a desperate situation.
Thematically, the lyrics explore some of the dark emotional depths of love, parenthood, citizenship, and anger, among others, however the overall message -- though largely dark in its delivery -- seems to be one of hope. Often the lyrical and musical setup for the song is followed by or ended with a sympathetic sense of encouragement, and on occasion a sense of both lyrical and sonic warmth comes through the otherwise beautifully frigid sound.
I highly recommend this album for experienced fans of progressive metal, as well as for those who can appreciate thoughtfulness and artistry in musical form. It's a beautifully executed album that conveys the message of hope in what can seem like hopeless situations... even down to the album art!
Snowfall on Judgement Day finds the band in it's finest hour.
This is a kick-ass cd. The follow up to the critically-acclaimed "Origin of Ruin" is 70+ minutes of remarkable music.
From the opening track "Peel" to the closing number "Love Kills Us All/Life in One Day" Judgement is by far their best release to date.
It even has a guest appearance of DT's James LaBrie on vocals with Ray Alder on the track "Another Day Dies."
Speaking of Alder, his vocals are amazing throughout the whole album, as well as the fantastic musicianship of Nick van Dyk, Bernie Versaille, Sean Andrews, Chris Quiarte and Greg Hosharian.
If you haven't got this disc yet, "what are you waiting for?" go get it!
What is there to say other than Stunning!
Van Dyck, Alder and crew have never been better. Their music has always captured me, and their last album was simply amazing, but this one is even better. The players have never sounded better. Drums, keyboards and bass (Sean is incredible on this album) are all at their pinnacle, and of course guitars are just off the charts. And when you bring it together, the instrumental portion of the recording is perfect.
Then add in Ray Alders incredible vocals, and you have something truly special that will stand the test of time. The music produced by this collection of people, is unusual, in that it appeals to so many different tastes from metal, to progressive to technical to rock.
The song that exemplifies how truly amazing this album is, the the last song, called Love Kills Us All/Life in One Day. The journey this song takes you on musically shows what these musicians are capable of. From subtle and quiet, to bombastic and loud, from moody and brooding to optimistic and excited.
Get this music. You need it