Dominic Cifarelli, guitarist of the now defunct Montreal band Pulse Ultra, is the man behind the Chronicles Of Israfel project. He starts his solo output with the album Starborn, Tome I, which is a very good heavy/progressive metal release; rich and varied, this piece goes on to cover various moods and styles, from aggressive and fast to slower and emotional yet still powerful and heavy. A concept album revolving around the figure named Israfel which as I've read is on a self-discovery journey and goes through various hardships; it is not the only figure in the story as every musician on the album portrays a different character in the story. As I have a legal digital download version of the album I can't tell you much more about that concept and so can only expand on the musical side, which is the main issue anyway.
As said above, the music is quite varied in styles and moods. I can spot similarities in style to bands such as Pain Of Salvation and Dream Theatre, but not in a clone-like manner. The musicianship is of very high level, accurate and efficient, contributing to the rich and enveloping sound of the album. The 3 first tracks which comprise the three parts of the title track are mostly instrumental and provide a compelling introduction to the album, theme and music. It then moves on to songs with each providing melodic and heavy experiences with fitting vocals (clear, dominant and a little rasp at times). All instruments are well heard (good mix) and represented on the album and the combination of the guitar and keyboards part creates a well balanced multi-layered edge to the songs. The songs are not only thrilling and gripping but complex in their arrangements and intricacies. They also flow very well from one to the next, assisting in the creating the feeling of a continuous storyline.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this release, not having heard of this project before getting the album. However, I must say that this has been a splendid and most satisfying discovery and it's a great listening experience. Greatly recommended to all those who love melodic progressive metal especially in the form of concept albums.