ARK
Progressive Metal • Norway

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ARK is a Norwegian progressive metal band resulting from the friendship and musical collaboration of guitarist Tore Østby (Conception) and drummer John Macaluso (ex-TNT, Yngwie Malmsteen), who later joined up with singer Jørn Lande (Jorn, ex-Masterplan) to record two acclaimed albums.

Lande, Østby and Macaluso were joined by Randy Coven (Steve Vai, Steve Morse) on bass and Mats Olaussen (Yngwie Malmsteen) on keyboards for their second effort, Burn the Sun.

After touring to support Burn the Sun, Ark went on hiatus and eventually broke up, with Jorn Lande joining Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch in the classic power metal band Masterplan, as well as pushing his own solo career.

John Macaluso updated his discography to include a new ARK album, called Aradiokaos. Very little has been heard thus far, but when the news broke on Metal Storm, screenshots confirming the project were posted.



Thanks to negoba for the updates

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ARK Discography

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.. Album Cover 3.83 | 12 ratings
Ark
Progressive Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 3.54 | 22 ratings
Burn the Sun
Progressive Metal 2001

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ARK Reviews

ARK Ark

Album · 2000 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Diogenes
Wow, is this a treat or what? There are so many metal bands out there that keep trying to forge a new sound by going forward. Everything has to be faster, heavier, more brutal, or more self-indulgent, depending on what subgenre you’re looking at. But Ark take a different approach: make something new and fresh by looking back and re-introducing those elements to the today’s metal world. So, instead of trying to build on something and running the risk of sounding like a clone band, you get something that’s creative and unique.

Ark plays what’s classified as progressive metal, but that’s not really fair to this album; it should be called PROGRESSIVE metal. Yes, you read that right. Progressive in caps. There is some very heavy progressive rock and jazz influence on here, and that should be acknowledged, damn it! But seriously, Ark draws from many 70s and 80s progressive acts and mixes them together with metal guitar work in a way I have never heard before. There are your obvious influences, like early Dream Theater (what progressive metal band hasn’t been inspired by them?), but some more subtle ones as well; Mother Love features a couple of keyboard lines I swear come from Eloy’s Planets, for example. Flamenco guitars and organs pop up several times. When you can hear the bass, you can tell that it doesn’t come from this time period, either. I can’t say that this whole spiel is easily accessible, but if you like prog, you should have little to no problem getting into the sound of this album.

What’s a huge shame is the way that this thing was produced. I don’t know if the band was on a low budget or what, but this piece of work deserves so much better. The percussion, while fantastic, is too loud, with the guitars buzzing softly in the background. I almost want to say that the drums sound like the lead instrument because of how horribly they are produced. Jorn hops from place to place, as if each of the vocal lines were recorded differently and patched across the songs at different times. The whole thing just sounds cheap. This really sucks, because it brings the album down; normally I can tolerate thin 80s metal because technology hadn’t caught up to the musicianship yet, but there is no reason this album should have been mixed so poorly.

But, let’s get back to the good parts, huh? When I first saw this band, I thought, “Okay, Jorn Lande and a bunch of guys that used to play with Yngwie”. Again, Ark are so much more than that. Out of all the individual performances on this album, Jorn’s might be the third best, and that’s saying something. For one, the drumming is incredible; John Macaluso uses an amazing array of different beats in odd time signatures, changing things up at a pace that you don’t hear very often. If there’s one upside about the production, it’s that every piece of Macaluso’s kit comes through loud and clear. Guitarist Tore Otsby plays the axe with both quality and zest, being the main receptor through which the various influences are transmitted. The instrumental sections are a joy to listen to, simply because Otsby’s clean guitar sounds so earnest; the dude can shred, as he shows on opener Burning Down, but the real fun begins when he employs a jazzier style. Then, you have Lande, who…well, he’s Lande. His vocals are superb as always. Those of you familiar with his voice should know to expect by now: pure excellence.

I was extremely disappointed to see that this album had only 7 ratings at the time I wrote this. I know that their second album Burn the Sun is probably better, and is certainly more popular in the prog community (how does that happen?), but this is still a gem of creativity and should be one of the first recommendations to those looking for something different. Ark isn’t perfect, but it’s incredibly fresh and innovative for its time period, which is something everyone should respect.

ARK Burn the Sun

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Pelata
I suppose you could call Ark a supergroup. The band’s pedigree is more than impressive. Guitarist Tore Ostby (Conception, DC Cooper), drummer John Macaluso (TNT, Yngwie) and vocalist Jorn Lande (Beyond Twilight, Millenium) got together a couple of years ago with the collective hope of making music with no boundaries. Their resulting self-titled effort was nothing short of a masterpiece of melodic, progressive metal music; even if it was only their demos pressed to CD. Fusing metal riffing, classic rock vocals, prog-rock drumming and even Caribbean and Flamenco influences, the record stunned prog metal fans around the world.

Now for their second effort Burn The Sun, the band recruited keyboard master Mats Olausson (Yngwie) and fretless bass god Randy Coven to fill out their already stellar unit. The biggest mistake anyone could make with regards to this record is to simply label it ‘prog-metal.” That definition does not begin to describe the musical and artistic outpouring found here. There too much diversity to even attempt proper conveyance. But, this is a review, is it not? Ok, I’ll give it a shot. Burn The Sun is an absolutely breathtaking example of what passionate musicians can accomplish when the chemistry is right. And, boy, is there ever a vast amount of chemistry on this album. A lot of bands have to release records for 10 years or more to achieve this kind of record. I hear everything from metal, jazz, funk, electronic influence to blues in this music. In other words, they have achieved their original musical vision here in spades! No boundaries!

Opening cut ‘Heal The Waters’ is an intense, syncopated driver with arcs and valleys filled with emotion and virtuosity. Lande’s vocal melody, as on the entire album, could not be any more perfect or well fitting. The man’s voice is simply flawless. The instrumental section has one of the records more eye-popping moments as well. The song ‘Absolute Zero’ begins with a sparse clean guitar melody accented by Coven’s precision bass fills. The verses have an odd, Bjork-like feel to them. This is a vocal character Jorn doesn’t delve into too much. It works well. Macaluso’s drumming here is very jazz-like as well. Ostby gets to stretch his Flamenco muscles once again on the outstanding ‘Just A Little.” The acoustic soloing on the intro is smooth and inspiring. Lande’s chorus shows off one of his many strengths, which is melody combined with soulful feel. The verses are an odd-time acoustic strumming fest. Olausson pulls off an impressive organ solo here as well leading into a great electric solo by Ostby. This song, like all the others, contains some amazing transitional changes showing just what this powerhouse band is made of. The way they flow from part to part is both fluid and technically jaw-dropping. ‘Noose’ has one of the albums more metal moments in the opening riff. There are some great guitars layered in this one. The 9-minute closing track ‘Missing You’ has some obvious Gilmour-isms on the opening solo. A dark, sad song it moves and slides along velvet synth textures and an oozing bass and drum groove. Lande is clearly the star of this tune, though. This one takes the award for the albums most emotional vocal melody. Ostby has his shining moments as well in his solo section.

Ok, I am clearly running out of adjectives to describe the amazing music found on this album. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who is a fan of the progressive genre, be it metal, rock, fusion, or otherwise, needs to own a copy of Burn The Sun.

ARK Burn the Sun

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
ydewata
Strange beautiful music. That was my impression when I first listening to ARK’s Burn The Sun. Trio Tore Otsby (guitars), John Macaluso (drums), and Jorn Lande (vocals) return with their second album, Burn The Sun. This time, they are accompanied by bassist Randy Coven and keyboardist Mats Olausson. Opened with the song “Heal The Water”, a progressive metal song with a crunchy and tight rhythm guitar playing, and turned out to be a typical power and speed metal song during the keys/guitar solo part. While you will find “Torn” and “Absolute Zero” to be somewhat dark musically, you will also find that the title song “Burn The Sun” is very much a radio-friendly one. “Just A Little” is an amazing song. Opened with a Spanish-acoustic guitar style by Tore Otsby with a pop-like chorus, this should be another radio-friendly song from them. If you’d like to hear an ‘acoustic-progressive rock’ (well, did I say it right?), have a listen on this one. “Waking Hour” sounds a bit pop too. Thanks to Jorn Lande for his voice which makes the song sound nice. “Noose” is just a typical metal song with a touch progressive metal element in the solo section. I have to admit it that the music starts boring in the middle of the album but “Feed The Fire” turned out to be a refreshment and save me out of boredom. It’s a great and headbanging song. The last 2 songs, well it’s not as great as its previous songs in the beginning. “I Bleed” is just a ballad song with standard lyrical theme, while “Missing You” is no better than “I Bleed”, lyrically. My conclusion is that ARK has the capability to become a great band and able contribute their unique music in the progressive metal scene. What is lacking of them is most of the songs here sounds typically the same. The tempo, the riffs & rhythm changing, all are almost the same. If you had to listen the songs individually, I doubt that you’d recognize which song it is. But yes I have no doubt that would be able to do better than this effort. Unfortunately it seems that Jorn is settled in his position of MASTERPLAN’s lead vocalist which may lead into no future holds for ARK.

ARK Burn the Sun

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Negoba
Great Sophomore Effort - Could Have Been Even More

Ark was a prog metal supergroup that produced an extremely promising, though uneven, debut album. For their second album, singer extraordinaire Jorn Lande, multi-faceted prog guitarist Tore Ostby, and drummer John Macaluso added Randy Coven, who was a shred bass aficionado in the guitar mags, and keyboardist Mats Olaussen, who had played with Yngwie Malmsteen. All the pieces were set for a prog metal masterpiece. Unfortunately, Lande led the band further down the melodic power metal path, and the progressiveness is actually less here than on their debut.

That said, this is a monster of a power metal album. The guitars are heavy, the riffs driving, and the chops of the players are phenomenal and on display. The bass deserves special regard here. Randy Coven plays like a demon on this album, let loose like he'd probably never been on record before. Along with providing active, jazz-infused accompaniment, he also gets some unbelievable solo spots, including a percussive face off with Lande doing traditional Indian vocal percussion! Lande is also a force of nature. While other vocalists may have higher ranges in terms of register, there is virtually no metal singer with a broader range of timbre, with different aspects of their voice brought to the music. On this album, Jorn's own identity is consolidating from his myriad influences, and is leagues above the majority of prog metal singers. And while he pulls off the ballads and straight rockers well, they are less interesting for (at least this) listener's ears.

My biggest disappointment is that guitarist Ostby doesn't get the chance to truly branch out. His parts are rocking and extremely well constructed, but his flamenco flavored acoustic chops are less prominent here than on the debut. As a result some of the exotic feel of the music is lost. (The flamenco IS still on full display on the song "Just a Little," which evokes the Seal song "Crazy" a little too closely). Tore's metal soloing is typically blistering, and admittedly his metal rhythm parts are just friggin' amazing. I suspect the shift in the balance of influence from equal parts Lande and Ostby to Lande as decided frontman was part of the breakup of the band. (This is painfully clear if you look at the promo pictures from the two albums.)

There ARE a fair number of proggy elements in this album. Intermittent thematic sci-fi references and off time rhythms punctuate the album. Heavy syncopation, jazzy bass, and exotic tonality are frequent visitors. There's just not enough. The little tastes we get are delicious, but this could have been a true feast.

For this review, I came back to listen after checking out some lesser known prog metal outfits. This album is so much better than those that my rating is going to increase as a result. Also, I have not listened to the debut album in a few weeks and I'm better able to judge this one on its own merits. It holds up remarkably well. It's hard to give this album the same rating as the debut, but within the reference point of prog metal, it is appropriate. Ark represents a fairly unique niche in an overpopulated genre, and this album is indeed excellent.



ARK Ark

Album · 2000 · Progressive Metal
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Power prog metal supergroup.

That label is a huge burden to shoulder but this band lives up to it beautifully. If I were to imagine what Prog Metal was without the preconception of Dream Theater or any of the other standards, this is what I would imagine. Firmly rooted in the core of heavy metal, with many allusions to the 80's classics, this band progresses into realms that their obvious influences would never have imagined.

The most obvious characteristic of this group is the powerful voice of Jorn Lande, who sounds most obviously like David Coverdale but pulls from both more powerful (the oft mentioned RJ Dio) and more gentle elements than the Whitesnake frontman ever displayed. I am a former Whitesnake fanatic, and Jorn sounds as good as Coverdale at his best when he chooses that part of his voice. But he has so much more to pull from. Amazing vocalist. Admittedly, however, my previous affection for Whitesnake certainly affected my opinion of this band.

The second leading character in this project is Tore Ostby, a prog metal guitarist with all the shred chops you could want plus his characteristic clean tone / flamenco influenced playing that can also be heard on his previous project Conception. While both offer guitarists like me all the burn that we could desire, Tore's ability to seamlessly blend clean and distorted tones, jazzy chords, and textures is what puts the prog into this band.

I am less familiar with the drummer, but the work here is very good, with dark tom parts, the now standard double bass, and syncopation all adding dark flavor to the mix. He's more than able to keep up with the all-star chops of the other members.

Composition is a final important piece here. These are multi-segment pieces that go far beyond the metal formula and are sure to please the prog heart. Dark harmonies, slow builds, climactic energy, it's all here. The songs are strong, all enjoyable. Though there are certainly chances for the artist to show their chops, this disc is about the songs. Flurries of notes are used as colors to enhance the music, rather than showing off, which certainly is a weakness of some metal bands both prog and standard. Ark's member have the savvy and taste to concentrate first on songs.

There are some significant weaknesses in this disc. First is the track order. The best tracks are in the middle of the disc and certainly the early tracks are among the weakest. I'm tempted to start at track 3. And with all power metal / 80's influenced metal, there is a cheese factor. Frankly, it's less than listening to Labrie sing, but it's almost unavoidable in this kind of metal. The melodies are good but not amazing, and the lyrics are again fine but nothing to really amaze.

In the end this is very good prog metal. Best classic metal voice I've heard in the prog arena and one of the more interesting guitarists. Definitely recommend.

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