Here we have the second chapter of Terra Incognita called A Line in the Sand. Just like the first album, this is a concept album with multiple players and singers. This time around Henning Pauly does all the instrumentation this time around with guest vocalists Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga), Sass Jordon, Nick Starr (Third Ending), Alex Froese (Frameshift), Charlie Dominci (ex-Dream Theater), and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One and others).
While the first chapter was done in the progressive metal genre, this time there’s a heavier vibe which is due to having Henning Pauly on board. His bands are generally on the heavier side, so I wouldn‘t expect anything less.
Combining the heavier element with a symphonic one, to my ears, has a more epic sounding result. There’s also some ballads to add to the dynamics of the concept. Besides I’m sure Henning needed a break from his metallic assault.
Starting off the album is “Barricade” (8:24), an epic monster featuring Steve Walsh’s powerful yet raspy vocals. With Steve’s current vocals, is best suited for songs like this. While I miss his old style of vocals, I have embraced the new vocals.
Next up is “Whirlwind” (5:01) feature vocals by Nick Starr and Michael Sadler. Both of these vocalists compliment each other just perfectly. The music is on the hard rock side while retaining a progressive element
“The Crown” (5;22) features vocals by Sass Jordan. Sass reminds me a lot of Janis Joplin and Dana Fuchs (no relation to me). Sass commands the direction of the vocals and is complimented by Henning’s instrumentation.
“Loyalty” (6:16) is a ballad with emotional lead vocals by Michael Sadler with backing vocals by Arjen Lucassen. This song has many catchy hooks and vocal parts. It sticks with you long after the music is over.
“My Father’s Son” (6:11) starts out with a middle eastern vibe then kicks into a progressive metal mood. Steve Walsh and Charlie Dominci share lead vocals here and compliment each other perfectly. This is my second favorite track on the album. There’s such a wonderful dynamic working here between the melodic and metallic parts. Another of my favorites on the album.
“When God Smiled On Us” (6:00) is modern sounding ballad which features Nick Starr and Alex Froese sharing lead vocals. This song has a more metallic punch in the chorus parts.
“Need” (6:05) is the second song with Sass Jordan on lead vocals. This is the third ballad on the album. It’s quite a beautiful song with a slight progressive edge.
“Spiral” (6:46) starts out with a didgeridoo then goes into a heavy metallic assault. Steve Walsh’s raspy vocals fits perfectly here.
“Battleground” (6:10) is the only instrumental track on the album and it bridges “Spiral” and the final track “Victory”. In fact I look at the last three tracks as a suite. This is an epic progressive/symphonic metal track that has an ever-changing instrumentation that keeps it interesting all the way through.
Finally we have the epic of the album, “Victory” (9:07). Michael Sadler provides the lead vocals. There’s a anthematic feel in the instrumentation and in the chorus. This is, in my opinion, the perfect song for Michael and a perfect ending to the album. The lyrics at the end of this send shivers up and down my spine, “Is This Victory?” and the very last vocal part “A Line In The Sand” takes you back to the beginning.
If you’re a fan of the first Roswell Six album as well as any of Henning Pauly’s projects, you’ll find the second chapter in Terra Incognita to be a must have. It’s also on par with Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon or even Star One. I’ll give out a strong recommendation for the progressive metal crowd to get this album. One of the better concept albums to emerge from 2010.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on August 31st, 2010