EIDOLON
"The Parallel Otherworld"

(Escapi)

01. The Parallel Otherworld
02. Arcturus #9
03. The External Call
04. Ghost World
05. Thousand Winters Old
06. Spirit Sanctuary
07. Order of the White Light
08. Astral Flight
09. Shadowanderer (Ferdamannen)
10. The Oath

RATING: 9/10

By now, most folks are aware of EIDOLON brothers Glen (guitar) and Shawn (drums) Drover's positions as members of MEGADETH, an event that raised their status from respected Canadian creators of melodic power/thrash metal to world stage musicians. Said event is not the only thing that has changed in the EIDOLON camp since "Apostles of Defiance" was released in 2003. PAGAN'S MIND singer Nils K. Rue replaced vocalist Pat Mulock, and the band signed to Escapi Music.

As it turns out, the addition of Rue has had the biggest impact on EIDOLON's style. Not only has his traditionally progressive, mellifluous voice given the EDIOLON approach a proggy feel, but so has the fact that he took over the duty of writing lyrics and vocal patterns from Shawn Drover. That said, Glen's guitar work and the EIDOLON basics have not been significantly altered. That distinctive dark tone and thrash-based riffing style is still firmly in place. Nils just brings a whole other dimension to this excellent album. Making the disc an even more interesting experience is the bevy of guest guitarists contributing solos, including Kim Mitchell, Frank Aresti, Michael Romeo, and Chris Caffery.

While not overly complex in a progressive metal sense, the 68 minutes worth of music here is one that takes a few listens to fully digest, and that's a good thing. Never a band to play it too safe, EIDOLON begins the album with its most progressive-sounding cut, the 11-minute title track. Building slowly from a rather serene opening section to somewhat heavier fare, the song eventually consumes the listener in its elegance. The use of keyboards on this track (also utilized to a lesser extent throughout the rest of the album) enhances its overall classiness. It is the definitive song demonstrating the revamped band's new identity with Rue.

Moving through the album's remaining tracks, "Arcturus #9" proves to be the album's heaviest in terms of speed and thrash basics. Its call and response chorus (with backing shouts) is most memorable. The track as a whole is more in line with what is heard on "Apostles of Defiance" and "Coma Nation". "The Eternal Call" then becomes more representative of the new and improved EIDOLON. In this case, Rue's inflection and patterning on the track is a mix of Warrel Dane's baleful croon and Ray Alder's soaring style. A PANTERA-esque riff break at one point serves as a pleasant, and crushing, surprise. "Ghost World", "Astral Flight", and "Shadowanderer (Ferdamannen)" are superb blends of EIDOLON metal might, Rue's vocal brilliance, memorable melody, and arresting arrangements.

The album closes with what I would have termed a risky proposition, a cover of MERCYFUL FATE's "The Oath"; that is, until I heard it. Rue's KING DIAMOND impression is as close to the original as you are ever likely to hear, and the band's treatment of the classic is exceptional. And that's not all. MERCYFUL FATE and FORCE OF EVIL axe masters Hank Shermann and Michael Denner are featured as guest guitarists on the song!

Hopefully, the MEGADETH gig will raise the level of awareness of this shamefully underrated band and allow others to experience such an expertly crafted album. "The Parallel Otherworld" is in many ways the perfect meeting point for fans of classic metal/thrash and progressive metal. Well done.

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