The T 666
I think this album could've been so much better.
For me, here the parts are more than their sum. Let's face it: when you have the guitarist/composer of SHADOW GALLERY, the drummer/vocalist/composer for SPOCK'S BEARD and one of the great metal voices around, you think you will get an outstanding feat of musical achievement. Or at least a very original, entertaining album.
Sadly, for me, this is not the case with AMARAN'S PLIGHT's debut album "Voice in the Light". I've read reviews saying that this disc is one of the best -if not THE best- of 2007. I disagree, completely. I think this is one of the big disappointments of 2007, not because it's bad (it's actually decent, even good), but because it could've been so much better.
Let's start with the musicians: Barabas shines on the bass; D'Virgilio gives a solid performance on drums, if nothing truly extraordinaire, but he keeps it low-profile. These two give what we would expect them to give us on such a release. It's the other two who don't quite deliver the goods. First, master guitarist Gary Wehrkamp plays a very different style from the one he uses in his main band (SHADOW GALLERY). That's a good thing, for we want diversity, but also a bad thing, for we expect to be dazzled with something, if not incredibly technical, at least original to make up for the lack of the usual wizardry. That doesn't happen. The guitar playing here is quite traditional, by-the-rules, nothing to remember. We didn't expect (nor want) "Tyranny Part II" or something like that, as this is another band, with different members; but we were hoping to hear some really new ideas and those wishes were not entirely fulfilled.
But the other problem that I found in the musicians it's one I would never expected to find: D.C. Cooper didn't convince me. Yes, one of my favorite vocalist in all prog-metal wasn't able to take me to the places he has been able to. It's like his voice doesn't quite match up with the style of this music (not that it actually HAS a particular style; more on that later). I have always thought of Cooper's tone as perfect for obscure characters, or for struggling heroes, form something/someone larger-than-life. Here, in Voice in the Light, his over-powering voice is too much for the character of the music and too dark and deep for the very light, sunny atmospheres we travel in this album. Cooper was perfect in ROYAL HUNT (specially in "Paradox"), magnificent in collaborations like EXPLORER'S CLUB or even with Wehrkamp in SHADOW GALLERY's "Tyranny" (in "New World Order"). But here he's not. He's just another singer.
Talking about style, that's another thing that bothered me about this release. I can't seem to fit this music in any particular genre. Not that good music should be so easy to categorize. But one thing is to transcend genre-boundaries due to unique, innovative music, and another to just lack a distinct character. At times this sounds very "prog-metal-ish", at times it sounds a little like SPOCK'S BEARD, at times it's neo-prog, at times regular rock, but, I insist: not in the sense that it's mixing elements of these genres, but just jumping from one to another between songs. It lacks definition, I don't know what it is.
There are some very good moments with good melodies and interesting ideas, but overall, the experience lacks punch, lacks impact. I have to add that, for me, the story also lacks effect. The tragic story of a man dying of cancer who was in love with a woman could've been better served. It lacks direction, it turns and twists without clarity, not to mention the fact that it makes the album a very sad experience and, even more sadly, not for musical reasons. Yes, let me explain: if we have a sad concept, and the music is also sad, we're enjoying a great piece of art, which transcends our emotions; but when the music makes no impressions on us and it's only the written story that gets to us, we know the album hasn't quite delivered.
All in all, I will give it 3 stars just for the music, as it has good moments and Cooper still manages to shine here and there. But having the names at hand in mind, I can't help feeling disappointed. I would've been more happy to give this album 3 stars if it had been released by 4 unknown musicians. But this is D'Virgilio, Barabas, Wehrkamp and Cooper here; this is just barely a 3.