Age of Nemesis - Psychogeist

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9082-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:22:00

In case you haven't been following Hungarian metal, Age Of Nemesis used to be Nemesis. And under that name, they released 4 albums (1 in English and 3 in Hungarian). The name change came about when they decided that world had too many bands called Nemesis. However, if you have been following the band, then you might also have noticed that these track titles look familiar. Some are English-language renderings of pieces that previously appeared on their Hungarian-language releases. The earliest of the earlier recordings had a different lineup.

Age Of Nemesis will not set the world afire, but not for a lack of trying. This is very good heavy, melodic, progressive metal. It's an overall solid effort that has more than air of maturity. This is the kind of metal I like most, where the music isn't just some incessant beat and guitar grind over which vocals are placed, providing the only melody and any kind of character. Here the drums (Laszlo Nagy), guitar (Zoltan Fabian), bass (Csaba Berczelly) and keyboards (Gyorgy Nagy) are part and parcel of each track's overall shape, not just some static backdrop. Sure, they chug and grind, are throaty at times, dark, heavy; keyboards swirl about as you might expect, like sound made manifest caught up in an eddying breeze (only the breeze that blows is often a tempest). Age Of Nemesis does buck one progressive metal trend by there being only one guitarist. The band doesn't suffer because of it, as the way the guitars and keys, and guitars and bass, play off and with each other, it's like having twin guitarists at times.

In many ways you could give a laundry list of what influences can be heard throughout, but since Age Of Nemesis create an engaging metal mix, nothing seems too overused or tiring. And fortunately, they have a nearly-great vocalist in Zoltan Kiss - it's a masculine melodic progressive metal voice, even if it's not a particularly metal name? okay, serious metal. If this were a hair metal band, maybe so. The obvious influences in their style are Dream Theater and Fates Warning, though you'll never say "oh, this is their 'that'," whatever "that" is. More so DT to me, in the guitars, drums and vocals mostly (Kiss can execute verbal gymnastics like LaBrie, his tone is quite different most of the time). What that means measured guitar phrases - neither always shredding nor always shimmering, but a textured mixture of both. It means drums and percussion that don't find a speedy gear and get stuck in it. Dynamics. Dynamics. Dynamics! And that's what this music has.

(Not so) oddly enough, despite there being no mention at all of Trent Gardner, a mainstay of the Magna Carta label, to whom Age Of Nemesis are now signed, there are moments here that hint at Gardner's particular arranging style. It is style and phrasing that, at least to me, mimics the way a trombone is played, and given that Gardner plays trombone? Anyway, I think parts of "Faceless Enemy" could have been on a Magellan release. Other parts of this same track, where it could be described as "swirling chaos," confirm those Dream Theater-isms. The Dream-iest track is "Abraxas," originally heard on Abraxas, their second album. On "Faceless?" you'll find a hint, briefly, of 80s Rush, too (cf. "Tom Sawyer"). This track was one of the highlights for me on For Promotional Use Only, so I'm glad that it's now widely available.

So what, exactly, is Psychogeist? Well, the first six tracks take the form of a concept with a storyline that could have been the plot to an X-Files episode, sans a pair of inquisitive FBI agents. Basically, it's a story of a boy manipulated by some higher power - the government, of course. All told in pieces that would qualify as "epics," beginning with "Fate's Door" (a mother and child reunion born of dire consequences), a track that explodes from the speakers with booming percussion, piercing keyboards and chugging and throaty guitars. Fabian's solo is clean and sharply defined, but too brief. Like their genre-brethren, you'll hear bit of guitar dart out of the mix as punctuation every once in while, too.

"Grey Room" cuts right into you as guitars, bass and keys grind in a spinning motion, only pulling back for a momentary breath (during the verses). It's chaotic, angry, and dark as we go inside the boy's mind. "Faceless Enemy" follows and leads into one of the best pieces, "Mommy's Crying." It's comparatively more restrained than the others instrumentally, owing in part to keyboards being the dominant element to begin with, then letting slinky bass take over (beneath Kiss' calm vocals). It is, for the first 2:45, a piece that seems closer to a progressive rock style than metal (though I won't say "neo"). After that, it's back to a metal edge, where gives voice to the agonizing and feeling-helpless mother in what has been his characteristic soaring style. (I'll note that the whispered vocal intro is perhaps his most LaBrie-like moment on the album).

The title track becomes, after repeated hearings, a bit annoying with Kiss' yelling. This over an arrangement that sounds very familiar to me; I recognize it but cannot name it. It is an off-kilter grouping of ascending and descending notes, throaty, and on that suggests horror, or teetering on the edge, circular motion? And it isn't because I've heard the track before or that I've played this CD a lot over the last several months. A chaotic, disturbing, angular rhythm leads up to it that underscores the boy's tumultuous state of mind.

Piano begins the closing piece of the suite, the Kansas-as-metal-band "Breaking Away." You almost expect a violin to harmonize with the keyboards. There's also a sort of a jazzy feel to this piece, along with its expected Dream Theater-isms. The boy is? oh, no, no. You have to find out for yourself whether our hapless, helpless, hero survives his ordeal or not. I will say there is a triumphant feel to this piece.

The remaining 5 tracks are independent of the storyline and includes two instrumentals, the first the screaming instrumental "Goddess Nemesis." Though they aren't constrained in anyway, Fabrian and keyboardist Nagy really let loose in "Goddess Nemesis." It's actually a showcase for all the instrumentalists to strut their stuff, whether in brief or extended soloing spots. The cliché tour-de-force comes to mind with this track, nevertheless. The second instrumental "Awaking Minds" is an acoustic number full of warm acoustic guitars (Fabian, Berczelly) and piano, along with soft and airy keyboard elements. Quite a contrast, this newy-agey piece. It quite nice and, appealing to my other nature, is another favorite.

"Eye Of The Snake" adopts a Middle Eastern motif to make commentary on the seductiveness of organized religion - and despite twisting, dancing (slithering?) rhythm, it's not directed at any one faith? And I'm sure a case could be made about the iconic status the snake has in different societies that broadens this out from just religion.

It's the dawning of the Age Of Nemesis. ? ? ? At the very least, it should be the (re)start of some positive things for the band.

Since this album's recording in 2001, bassist Berczelly left and Gábor Krecsmarik is the band's new bassist.

The Psychogeist Story: Fate's Door / Grey Room / Faceless Enemy / Mommy's Crying / Psychogeist / Breaking Away // Goddess Nemesis / Eye Of The Snake / Karma / Abraxas / Awaking Minds

Csaba Berczelly - bass, acoustic guitar
Gyorgy Nagy - keyboards
Zoltan Fabian - guitars, acoustic guitar
Laszlo Nagy - drums, percussion
Zoltan Kiss - vocals

Nemesis (1998)
Abraxas (1999)
For Promotional Use Only (promo) (2001)
Eden? (2002)
Terra Incognita (2002)
Psychogeist (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin HU

Added: October 15th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1252
Language: english


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