Every once in a while, and album just comes out of nowhere and blows the listener away. The unexpected nature of these musical surprises makes them that much more exciting. Redemption wasn't completely unknown to me. I recognized the name, and knew that the inimitable Ray Alder was the new voice of the band. But I wasn't familiar with the music and didn't have any elevated expectations going into the first listen of the band's 2005 release, The Fullness of Time. Sure, I expected good vocal melodies, but that was about it. Little did I know just how much I was missing.
Redemption is the result of one man's drive and brilliance: Nick van Dyk. I know, you probably haven't heard of him either. Well, let me say it now. Remember that name. It will continue to gain prominence with each new Redemption release. The Fullness of Time is the second Redemption release, following the eponymous 2002 release. There have been some lineup changes, particularly in the rhythm section. But the most prominent, and important, change was the inclusion of Ray Alder (of Fates Warning fame) as the permanent vocalist. It is hard to overstate just how much this adds to the band's sophomore release. Ray is, in this writer's opinion, one of metal's brightest and most versatile vocalists. His ability to be soothing, menacing, growling, and soaring all in the same song is impressive.
The Fullness of Time is the progressive metal album I was hungering for all last year. This is metal, no mistake. The songs are full of gritty, powerful guitars, pummeling double bass drums and driving, rich, dynamic bass work. But it is also progressive. Layered, elegant keyboards accompany the more gentle, calm passages. Songs change character multiple times throughout, never boring the listener. Lyrically, the album is thought provoking and insightful. Dealing with such themes as current politics, the pain of crumbling relationships, and the capacity of the human soul to be its own worst enemy. The final four tracks comprise the work titled "The Fullness of Time", chronicling the travels of one man through pain, loss, rage and finally coming to grips with his own demons. It is a progressive masterpiece.
Tracks to catch: This is one album where I can recommend every single track without hesitation. "Threads" kicks the album off, dropping the listener immediately into fifth gear. "Parker's Eyes" is a mournful work, father to newborn son, discussing innocence and the future loss thereof. "Scarred" grabs you by the throat and never lets go, throttling you for nearly 8 minutes. I have already mentioned "The Fullness of Time", but of particular note is the first part, "The Fullness of Time: I. Rage". If the beginning of this song doesn't give you chills and have you looking over your shoulder, well, you probably belong in prison. Most of all, though, I have to mention "Sapphire", the album's 15+ minute prog epic. Most bands would forsake their own mothers to write a song half as great as "Sapphire". It is one of the greatest prog epics I have ever heard. Moving, driving, powerful and hauntingly beautiful, it embodies all that is great about progressive metal. I get chills when it starts.