It is no secret that I am a huge fan of this band. I’ve covered both their previous releases (‘Human’ and ‘Sigma’) and hold both of those albums in high regard. The Athenian 5 piece progressive metal band have carved out a niche when it comes to delivering a highly atmospheric and expressive brand of music, leading to plenty of environments; dark and despair laden to uplifting and triumphant. So with this, “Artifacts” is the band’s next release. Once again, it is conceptual, built around the theme of ideas and sentiments as objects with a ritual value; the power of words and worship, symbolism and interpretation. With thought provoking lyrics and mesmerising soundscapes, another musical journey commences.
The opening choir of “Amber” sets the stage and already there is a subtle air of anticipation which is slowly thickening and enveloping you as it progresses. The tightly controlled musical delivery which comes in next latches on with its shifting feel hook and the brief flashes of piano and cleaner/ringing notes from the guitar add that extra flavouring on the musical side. Vocally, it is exactly what you would expect from Mother Of Millions. Smooth, well controlled, versatile and a powerful presence, the vocal melodies work well with the dark and pounding atmospheric music and the suspenseful nature of the music which effortlessly smothers the track just caps it nicely. It is a fine way to introduce this 7 track album and also a good introduction to what to expect from Mother Of Millions.
“Rite” brings in the synergy of the keys/piano and guitar to the forefront. Arpeggios and chords clash with tremendous results, clear melodies and powerful impacts backed up by a deep but tightly controlled bass and all riding on the intricate and mesmerising drums provide a heavier and slightly ‘darker’ sounding/feeling track and the vocals reflect this. With more power and fullness to them, they cut through to hit the target with ease. “Soma” takes things slow with its low-end heavy leaning in the intro. This low-end favouring continues into the first verse, providing warmth to the accompanying drums and vocals whilst the guitars and keys kick it up a notch as the track transitions into the chorus. Raw, expressive and emotionally charged, the gentle feel of the track has a sorrowful edge to it and the massive sounding chorus just compounds this.
“Cinder” begins with a sustained feedback loop which acts as a high drone-like counterpoint to the slow arpeggios and drums. The vocals are softly delivered and the subtle changes to the pitch of the droning loop gives way to a slow fade-out synth before it gets dark. Deep bass, haunting piano and clean guitar lines back up the much sharper edged vocals and as it eases off once again, the track roars to life. Dynamic and animated, full-bodied vocal blasts and precise delivery of the music creates a massively captivating wall of sound which has much more energy and adds a touch of flair to keep the suspense going right until the end. “Nema” is a piano instrumental which serves as an intro/transition track to the subsequent one; “Anchor”. First up, “Nema” has a reflective feel to it. The lone piano is vibrant as its treble and bass progressions dance about, picking up and easing off on the intensity and before you know it, you are swept up in its flow before it eventually fades into silence for a few seconds. The silence is then shattered as “Anchor” comes alive. The percussive-groove like riff hits hard after the mesmerising piano interlude and the track goes on like any expressive progressive metal track would. The transitions from verse to chorus have those sleight of hand melodic shifts which happen so subtly you’d just think it was a natural part of the musical progression. The prominence of the bass midway through the track adds a real suspenseful touch, creating a solid foundation for the band to build on as the guitar solo gets unleashed, first as an atmospheric buzzing drone and then a full-on wailing melodic lead which screams out with flair.
“Artefact” closes the release and it clocks in round the 10-minute mark and it acts as a fitting climax to the highly atmospheric release. Slow to start and highly focused on the synth and samples front, it subtly increases its presence as it progresses. From swells of synth to creeping piano melodies to the point where the rest of the band joins in, there is a definite air of finality on this track. The foreboding feel from the piano melody, the inflection and tone of the vocals, the incantation-like Greek spoken word section, it all combines and finally reaches a crescendo towards the final quarter of the epic track. The grandiose delivery burns brightly before it slowly eases away, leaving only a sombre piano melody and distant vocals to trail off into silence.
In 2019 we have already had some big progressive rock and metal releases and “Artifacts” is up there, standing just as tall as Dream Theater and Queensrÿche are. Atmospherically expressive, emotionally charged and delivered with a passion, this album certainly has a high value associated with it.