Creation’s End – A New Beginning

There’s a certain sub-genre of progressive metal that really desperately wants to be Dream Theater, and there’s another (much smaller) group that manages to outclass Dream Theater in its own style. Creation’s End can be firmly placed as a member of the latter category, to the point where it even feels a bit unfair to compare the two bands at all – while there’s no doubt that Creation’s End has taken some technical influences from Dream Theater, calling them derivative would not do justice to the incredible level of creativity and skill expressed by all members of the band.

A New Beginning, Creation’s End’s debut album, falls in line with many tropes of progressive metal – it’s composed in equal parts of that popular style of prevailing heavy chord patterns with complex underlying melodies, frantic guitar shredding, and the occasional obligatory light section. It’s incredibly frantic and energetic, and, as most good metal does, contains a great amount of raw emotion. It does not, though, come across as trite – even if A New Beginning is not entirely original, it feels as though it is.

Much of this feeling comes down to the finesse with which the music is executed – everything is very carefully orchestrated, and every note seems meticulously planned. There’s a fair amount of bass work, including some rapidly slapped transitions that work nicely with the rest of the music, and a Jordan Rudess-style synth that alternately reaches into high pitches to complement a lower, heavier melody or appears in the background as series of very well-placed chords. Though many of the instruments often take a backseat to the guitar, none of them manage to be drowned out, and removing a single note from any of them would create an entirely different experience. It’s a very carefully constructed tower of an album – the bass, synth, guitar and drums alike come together at all the right times, and build off of each other in interesting ways. The musicians clearly had a good idea of what they wanted to produce, and A New Beginning has a seriously refined musical quality.

I’ve held off mentioning the vocals to this point because they’re difficult to describe. It’s hard to call Mike DiMeo a talented singer, as I don’t think his voice would hold up very well without the instruments behind it. His singing isn’t exactly melodic, and always sounds a bit strange – but within the context of the album, it works. A New Beginning is one of those albums where the music and vocals are made to complement each other, and DiMeo’s voice serves this purpose quite well. It’s difficult to make any form of value judgment about DiMeo as a singer based on A New Beginning, he’s basing his voice very heavily around the music being played. Even if the singing on the album might not be “good” by many standards, there’s no denying that it’s an important part of the music being played.

To DiMeo’s credit, though, he sells the concept of the album very well. This an odd point to make, because I’m not exactly sure what the concept is – I don’t have a lyrics sheet, and the lyrics are often difficult to make out. It reflects well upon DiMeo that he’s able to make me like the concept without even knowing what it is. The few lines I could make out weren’t exactly spectacular samples of writing – with lines like “So this is what it comes to / regard for life is lost / we fight and kill for justice / but is it worth the cost?”, A New Beginning can come off as a bit preachy and cheesy – but, as said before, DiMeo’s voice is so full of passion that it just doesn’t matter.

The one failing of the album, then, is that it feels as though it’s composed from set pieces we’ve all seen before – it’s hard to find anything completely new in A New Beginning, but everything is executed with such finesse that the last niggling feeling that it might not be entirely original is completely swept away. It’s dense, packed tightly with a lot of different concurrent melodies – a non-stop stream of emotion, energy and overall excellent music.

Tracklist:

1. Of Shadow and Flame – 8:58

2. World Holocaust – 6:56

3. Hollow – 7:04

4. Dissociate – 6:51

5. Still Life – 7:39

6. Forsaken – 10:47

7. Relic – 5:32

8. Creation’s End – 11:13

Line-up:

*Mike DiMeo – vocals

*Rudy Albert – guitars/keyboards

*Marco Sfogli – guitars

*Joe Black – bass

*Dario Rodriguez – drums

Links:

http://creationsend.net/index1.html

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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