Conception’s debut sits closer to power metal or whatever name you wish to give to 90's metal that is dominantly influenced by popular 80's bands such as Halloween, Dio, Ozzy and Priest. Expecting Progressive Metal might lead you in a wrong direction. This is simply competent melodic metal that stands out by the merit of their exceptional vocalist.
I don’t reside too much in this style of music for finding it generally derivative and predictable, often confusing technical skill with progressiveness and an emotional standard that seems to be measured by the height of the singer’s pitch. On the other hand, whatever the genre, there are always a few albums where the magic works. This particular album from Conception can sure be added to that list.
Had I known that Conception featured Kamelot's later singer Roy Khan, I would have checked them out a lot earlier as he is such a talented singer. Similar to Damian Wilson he doesn't need to resort to overstatement; his voice has that inherent intensity and breadth that doesn't need big gestures. It is rather unique, especially in this style of metal occupied by legions of Bruce Dickinson clones.
The fact that this band originates from Norway is probably another element that speaks to me. It is a tad more gloomy then your average prog-metal outing and it has refined vocal melodies all over the place. The focus is on songwriting and not on technicalities. The song material is mostly outstanding and rather diverse, avoiding bombast and empty pathos. A song like Bowed Down With Sorrow, as suggested by its title, comes close to the melodic doom metal of Solitude Aeturnus, other pieces like Live To Survive are a crunchy take on Judas Priest, the 10 minute closer, Among The Gods is the prog moment, adding nice touches of flamenco and Latin music into their metal sound. Not an obvious experiment but with a tasteful result.
This album offers nothing original or outstanding but inspiration and passion ride high throughout. A great discovery for me in a style of music that generally doesn't excite me much.