Altered Reflections is the debut album from Darkology, a progressive metal act featuring some established names from the progressive metal scene, such as band mastermind Michael Harris (Arch Rival, Thought Chamber et all) and features the vocals of Kelly ‘Sundown’ Carpenter, previously heard singing with Beyond Twilight and Outworld. Brian Harris (brother of Michael) and Mike Neal completely the line-up.
After a short intro track (I make no secret of hating intro tracks and to be honest this is no exception, but for this album I’ll make an exception and let that pass based on just how strong the actual songs are, it is pointless, yes, but this album has the strengths to allow that to slide), Violent Vertigo bursts out of the speakers with an insanely awesome riff, which sets the standard for the rest of the album. While many progressive bands (rock or metal) employ the use of keyboards, Darkology’s music is all about the heaviness of the guitars and the complexity of the riffs. It's definitely progressive metal, but it could easily also be considered technical metal even though that's not a tag I'd encourage use of. Sundown’s vocals fit into the mix really well, giving them that sort of epic sound associated with power metal, so it would be fair to brand them as progressive power metal but it’s my personally opinion that the vocals is as far as the power metal part of Darkology goes, the music is prog all over.
I would normally separate a few highlights from an album to talk about right about now, but that is very difficult to do with Darkology’s Altered Reflections, simply because, intro track aside, this album does not have a single flaw within its nine songs. Every track is as addictive as the last and each has its own identity, which considering that the band do not fall into the type of progressive metal that hops between different genres (like Ayreon, for example); always applying the same winning formula to the writing, just goes to show how well they’ve put this album together. Best I can do is to list my favourites, and these even took several listens to finally settle upon - Dark Energy, Eyes of Argus, Aura of Xhad and Revitalize.
This is going to be an album that I will continue to listen to for a long time. Some albums can be heard, played a few times and then forgotten for a long time until you suddenly get the urge to hear it again, and then that cycle will begin again. This definitely isn't one of those in my opinion. I hope these guys stick around, because as great as Altered Reflections is it is so tantalisingly good that I need more from them, but at the same time this is a band that have set their own standard so high with their debut album I'm really not sure how they'll ever be able to top this.
(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)