Strange Land returned in 2009 with a new album called Catharsis. It also marked the return of the original line-up of Sean Gil (guitars), Chad Novell (bass, keyboards and vocals), and Brad Klotz (drums). The sound is more refined and experimental in many ways. This time around, the band seems more rooted within the progressive metal genre than the previous two releases.
From my point of view, the album can be broken into two sections, with tracks 1-6 making the first section. Starting with the acoustic intro of “Prodigo Cras” (1:02). Then the anthem of the album, “The Men Who Spent Tomorrow” (5:49) which is very memorable long after the music is done.
Next up is “Asinine (Nothing Better)” (4:36), a hard rocking tune that recalls King’s X/ early Fates Warning in the instrumentation. “Soul Made Still” (5;48) follows with a more slick production and outside the Catharsis suite, a very progressive sounding song. There’s an influence of late 70’s/ early 80’s Rush in the heavier parts.
“One Drop Of Water” (5:35) starts off with an acoustic sound that leads into something heavy & grungy. Followed by “Ebb” (3:23) which ends off the first section with a more mellow acoustic vibe with some atmospheric keyboards backing.
Now the centerpiece of this album is the 25 minute multi-part epic suite entitled “Catharsis“ which reminds me a little of the heavier parts of Rush’s 2112. My only gripe is that I would have liked it if it tracked as 1 song rather than 7 tracks. This is just a small gripe that doesn‘t take away from the enjoyment of this epic suite. “Catharsis” is worth the price of admission alone!
In closing, we have a band that has evolved over the almost past decade and arriving at their masterpiece of sorts called Catharsis. The band’s influences are worn on their sleeves but serving only as a foundation of their overall sound. While not 100% original, they do stand above the masses of clones of various first class progressive metal bands. I can only see Strange Land getting better on their next album but until then I highly recommend this album. I firmly believe this can be deemed the jumping off point to the Strange Land’s next chapter of their career.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on December 3rd, 2010