Master of Disguise - Review
This album is our first introduction to this group and their style of music. It's a great introduction too with 80 minutes of music across fifteen tracks. The diversity of the music is nearly as numerous as the tracks on this album, all with a progressive taste to them from progressive metal to progressive trance and everything in between. With the Sebastian Elliott taking the lead on the vocals, the artwork and much of the creativity behind the physical album he is joined by Vora Vor doing much of the compositions and instruments and they are joined by a number of guests and backing vocalists to create a powerful, well-rounded work.
This album is a concept album, so I feel it is best to listen to it from start to finish, and with the physical copy the listener can flip through and read the story behind the music along with the lyrics and get the overall theme of the album mixing written word with emotionally driven music. After the short instrumental introduction of "Unearthed" we're launched right into the single "Lost" which was my first introduction to this band with it's accompanying video. As the listener drifts along on the driving sonic waves of this album we're taken on a journey as many tracks mesh right into the next without much of a break with the driving beats and guitar creating a nice, cohesive feel. We're thrust immediately into the "Eye of the Storm" with it's driving metal and industrial elements and we're carried right into "The Game" that builds and creates a dynamic climax before fading off into a barrage of ambient soundscapes and background noise into the instrumental piece "Hunter and Hunted". While a few pieces have hints of movie samples throughout, several are composed entirely of these samples instead of actual sung vocals. This is the first of these though they remain something in the background compared to the two that appear later as "Dysphoria" and "Dystopia" which really have less driving music behind them, but are just movie samples coupled with ambient sounds and percussion that serve more as punctuation to the mix of samples. The samples are put together well to make sense with an overall theme and narrative and it's also fun to listen to the samples and pick out those familiar ranging from excerpts from Star Trek
to Dark City
and a hundred others.
These sample-ridden pieces form a sort of bridge between tracks or between album parts as the first trio of tracks form a driving onslaught introducing the character of the album. In between these tracks is the title track, the first of a trio which break the mold slightly from the previously heavily driven pieces to a bit more of a mid-tempo piece replacing much of the progressive metal elements with choirs and somber background music while still powerful and moving. After these pieces we're brought back to "Dystopia", the second of the sample-ridden pieces as we fade into another instrumental track "Written in Stone" that leads us to the "Valley of Kings" trio of tracks which really bring out the progressive metal elements with the lead guitar really coming out strong. These tracks really come out strong and almost over-powering, I think the listener has to be a in certain mood for the metal elements presented as it might be a little much for the casual listener, but those that love the stronger, more powerful metal elements will enjoy it as it caps off the album, bringing it all to a powerful close as we fade right into the finale "Entombed". This final instrumental piece combines cinematic ambient soundscapes with choirs and sounds of blowing wind and sand creating a vision of the album coming to a close as we close the door to this chapter and this album.
I've definitely had a lot of fun listening to and enjoying the full nature of this album combining the physical with the aural experience. Like watching a movie you wouldn't want to just listen to it, you like to see what's happening and so with this album you can do so if you pick up more than just the digital copy. This is a great work and a great overall experience, while the music isn't perfect, there are definitely some stellar tracks on this album, some great favorites that are dance-friendly and powerful and for me overall I really enjoy Elliott's deep vocals across the driving beats and grinding guitars. It's a great style that many fans of the goth-related music can enjoy, so be sure to pick it up.