Imagine if you will, a cross between the all-synthesized music of Larry Fast, who uses the name “Synergy” for those projects, and Black Sabbath. I must admit, when the first strains of the album came on, I was expecting one thing, and suddenly got something else completely at the other end of the spectrum...combined. This is a very good album, and one of the reasons why it is is precisely that unpredictability and unique fusion of two radically different styles of music. Moreover, it’s a continuous fusion of the electronic with the heavy edged rock throughout that blends seamlessly with each other that is a pure delight. You’re probably reading this right now saying to yourself. “That’ll never work”. Trust me, it does. Oh...it’s a good old fashioned concept album too, with each song as kind of short story in a “Twilight Zone” compilation
The first song is called “The Pilot” and is best described as the “Rod Serling Introduction” to all the stories that are to follow. The lyrics refer to small snippets of plot that occur in each successive song. Here’s the song titles and the “plots” of each story (as taken from the Jupiter Society Website)
BISMARCK EXPLORER: Huge and designed for extreme distant exploration, Bismarck Explorer left chartered space. Capt. Kate Bishop, by some referred to as “the Bitch”, already had a questionable reputation. Suddenly Bismarck Explorer dropped from the radar and disappeared… Just a week ago it was found again by chance, far from its previous position, almost completely covered in ice and without any sign of the crew or the captain.
COLD, RIGID, AND REMOTE: Some people have a feeling they are not like others. Some are not. This man suspects that he is born without the ability to love, that he can only kill, obey and blow himself to pieces. No reason why, but a distinct feeling that someone will sooner or later tell him to, and furthermore that this will not end it, just start the cycle all over again. Was he ever born?
ABDUCTION: People disappear, people are observed. People make up stories and some hallucinate. People reappear, some with amnesia, others with spectacular stories. In the same second but from two different worlds, Keith and Jane disappear.
THE ENEMY: A small crew, a small vessel, far away from home for 12 days. He has been staring out into the dark for over 24 hours, listening intensively to the receivers, and seems to notice something the others do not. Small pearls of sweat form on his upper lip. The young skipper knows he is right, the others hope he is. The silent instruments disturb their thoughts. First contact or last warning?
SOLITUDE UNITES US: One man alone in a satellite, by his own decision, in almost complete seclusion from the world. For 15 minutes every second week he has contact with another satellite when their orbits meet, with a man not there by free will and with death as his only alternative. Obviously they have nothing but solitude in common.
8511: A faint audio signal, origin unknown. 164 years ago an organization led by pure interest started an archive for filing information about suspected extraterrestrial life. Some of the observations are almost trustworthy, most of them are not. Until yesterday 8510 observations were recorded. Today number 8511 came.
PRESUMED DYING: A big passenger vessel on a two week journey. No need for cryo sleep, more like a cruise, lots of time for R&R. A sudden explosion – accident, attack or sabotage? The closeness to an airlock and the safety suits temporarily saves a man’s life. The second explosion tears the ship apart and the man is thrown out into space. With some breathable air and, for a short time, in radio contact, he is floating toward his presumed death.
Now that we have the plots for each song...what’s the music like? The best way to describe each song’s unique sound is by reading about the plot of each vignette. Keyboards are ever-present throughout the album, performed by Carl Westholm, who was also the primary composer and producer. The remaining musicians are all from various Swedish Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal Bands who gave up their “day jobs” to contribute to this record. It truly is a group effort, and extremely entertaining, diverse, and VERY different than your usual Prog Metal album.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a very heavily keyboard influenced album. There are copious amounts of crunching metal guitars and pounding drums throughout, but the keyboards are there as orchestra, padding, soloist...you name it. If you like your metal with a lot of keyboards (or visa versa), then this album will more than satisfy you. I’m much more partial to heavier rock when it has keyboards than not, so this album was right up my alley. The singing left me a little cold though, I like more passion in my vocals, then again, given the subject matter it fits nicely with the overall theme of the record.
If you’re looking for something completely different to listen to, then this is most definitely a record to check out. Recommended.
Reviewed by K. Austin Walsh on November 19th, 2008