CONDITION RED — Illusion of Truth (review)

CONDITION RED — Illusion of Truth album cover Album · 2016 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Time Signature
Let it all come out...

Genre: progressive metal/rock

The third album by guitar virtuoso Lars Eric Mattsson's project Condition Red, "Illusions of Truth" follows up on 2003's "II". Drawing on a number of influences, this concept album reaches out beyond the metal universe while still retaining several heavy metal influences.

Stylistically, the album is a bit of a mixed bag with influences from a range of different genres of music. For instance, the opening track is a heavy progressive metal affair with a very dynamic structure. This is followed by a subdues and moody, but quite interesting, track in the form of 'Never Be the Same'. The third track starts out with some funky guitar sections, but morphs into a progressive metal affair with some pretty heavy sequences. 'Labyrinth' is an instrumental in which Mattsson delivers a long blistering guitar solo on top of a combination of drums, bass, keyboards, and sitar. 'It's not a Crime' is a ballad of sorts and emphasizes emotion over heaviness, although a heavy guitar kicks in after around six minutes. 'All on our Own' is another ballad of sorts while the instrumental 'Shake Off' combines jazz rock and hard rock. 'Everywhere I Look' and 'Can't Seel You Lie' are slightly reminiscent of some of Cynic's softer tracks, and 'Final Beginning' is a psychedelic instrumental bordering on soundscape.

Naturally, we are dealing with a high level of musicianship, but I feel that the production could perhaps be better at times. Mattsson's raspy vocals may not be for everyone, and, while I do not mind his singing style myself, there is a digital-sounding edge to his singing that kind of annoys me a tad. Maybe it is just my ears playing tricks on me. Anyway, needless to say, the listener is treated to some pretty impressive guitar work, as Mattsson generously treats the listener to guitar solos galore. I think it is a shame that the drums are as underplayed as they are. They could be given a bit more room, I think, and sound a tad too mechanical for my taste, and I think a slightly more organic and technical drumming style would fit the music much better. Despite my reservations, Condition Red deserve praise for retaining a sense of atmosphere throughout the album even at their most technical.

"Illusion of Truth" is an interesting album. While different from most mainstream progressive metal, it is progressive without a doubt, and there are plenty of metal and hard rock elements to satisfy your progressive metal desires. It is not a perfect album and there are several elements that do not appeal to me, but it is still an enjoyable listen overall.
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