I Am The Storm

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. I Am The Storm
02. Seven Minutes From Sunset
03. Remember The Dawn
04. The Emotional Depiction Of Light
05. Resilience
06. Action At A Distance
07. Turn It On Again
08. All This Time (And Not Enough)

After five epic and acclaimed albums with Ray Alder in the vocalist role (and one with Rick Mythiasin),  REDEMPTION made the task of choosing his replacement look (and sound) like the easiest, most natural next move in the world. A close friend of founder Nick van Dyk, EVERGREY's Tom S. Englund, slotted into the prog metal crew's expansive world seamlessly, with 2018's "Long Night's Journey Into Day" confirming the shrewdness of his appointment. One of the band's most absorbing and extravagant records, it combined cherished signature tropes with a rejuvenated sense of wide-eyed ambition. Englund's voice, widely known to have the power to make normally rational people weep uncontrollably, luxuriated in its new surroundings. Long established as prog metal standard bearers, REDEMPTION had weathered a potential calamity and come back sounding more vital and ambitious than ever (which is a very prog thing to do).

Five years have passed since that personal and creative renewal, but the rush of adrenalin that passed audibly through this band's ranks upon Englund's arrival is still coursing away. "I Am The Storm" begins with its title track: a fiery, four-minute anthem that condenses REDEMPTION's brutal elegance into a single, pummeling dose of grandiosity. Van Dyk's solos are audacious, Englund is fully and thrillingly lost in the machine, and the whole thing rattles along with a gripping sense of urgency. Safe in the knowledge that more elaborate fare will be along in a minute, REDEMPTION repeat the trick with "Seven Minutes From Sunset": another sublime four-minute collision between precision, flair and refined melody. They truly stretch out for the first time on the high-octane odyssey of "Remember The Dawn". Another reminder that this band have never conformed entirely to the standard, post-DREAM THEATER prog metal blueprint, its eight minutes take in psychedelic modular synth spirals, symphonic bombast on a heroic scale and a healthy serving of traditional heavy metal, once again with Englund gluing it all together with pure, liquefied soul. The emotional big guns are wheeled out for "The Emotional Depiction Of Light". A lighter, brighter take on REDEMPTION's melancholy bombast, with sharp pop smarts, quirky strings and a deeply satisfying dynamic flow, it leads gently into the succinct and surly "Resilience"; their combined impact giving "I Am The Storm" a natural breathing point, before the sheer madness of its second half.

Two colossal epics, "Action At A Distance" and "All This Time (And Not Enough)" are the dark and daring counterpoint to the slick succinctness of those shorter songs. The former is a truly indulgent confection, almost episodic in flow, and blessed with myriad mood swings and moments of melodic clarity. The dense, orchestral section that erupts midway and weaves itself around Englund's climactic chorus melody is particularly inspired. The latter is a more linear, streamlined affair, with a tense, melancholy undertow and some particularly sumptuous piano work from Vikram Shankar. Sandwiched in between, a proudly why-the-hell-not cover of GENESIS' "Turn It On Again", is a rather splendid bonus. Speaking of which, some editions of "I Am The Storm" will also feature a cover of PETER GABRIEL's "Red Rain" which is somehow just as gorgeous as the original, and Vikram Shankar's shiny, widescreen remix of "The Emotional Depiction Of Light". After a short delay, one of prog metal's classiest acts continue to spoil us.

Author: Dom Lawson
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