THOUGHT CHAMBER — Psykerion (review)

THOUGHT CHAMBER — Psykerion album cover Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
PSYKERION is the 2nd album by THOUGHT CHAMBER. This is the first time i've heard of them much less heard them so this is my first taste of their brand of progressive metal that has been getting much attention and high praise. It is a concept album and is put into a story form that is told by a young boy genius named Avakus on the spaceship Karakryps-One which is on a mission of some sort in the galaxy known as Psykerion. The events that unfold cause this young boy to endure an existential quandary and this is all backed up by some extremely top notch musicianship. Michael Harris is the virtuoso guitarist and keyboard player who adds his idiosyncratic signature on most of the tracks. His interplay with bassist Jeff Plant, Mike Haid on drums and Bill Jenkins on more keyboards is one of the most exciting sounds i've heard in prog metal in a while. While they still reside on the Dream Theater branch of prog metal, they have sufficiently distanced themselves from being clones and have a refreshing futuristic feel that some of the older bands have failed to achieve.

I have listened to this quite a bit lately because it is some intense technical metal that steers clear of alienating the listener. This band really knows how to deliver some satisfying stuff that blends the technical and emotional seamlessly. The fast runs are always counterbalanced by slower parts and often the call-and-response of the instruments creates an atmosphere that feels like galaxies flying by outside the spaceship. The production is top notch as well with everything being mixed perfectly and the mixture of short instrumentals with longer vocal rich compositions is very brilliantly played out indeed. The vocals of Ted Leonard sometimes remind me of Fran Cosmo of Orion The Hunter and the later Boston since he has a high pitched voice that hits all the high notes effortlessly.

Everything that works about this album is absolutely great, but unfortunately this doesn't come off as a perfect album for me. The problem lies in the fact that a few of these tracks just stray from the sound that this band has crafted so well. It's especially true in the slower songs. They clearly pay tribute to their favorite 70s progsters. For example “Light Year Time” sounds to me like a Kansas meets Styx kind of tune. “Isles Of Bizen” reminds me so much of Yes' “And You And I” with its chord progressions that I can't help but start singing “A man conceived a moment's answers to the dream.....” “Breath Of Life” sounds like it came from one of the gazillion Neal Morse projects (Ted's Spock's Beard days showing up here) and “Transcend” sounds like a long lost Kansas song with some serious spicing up of course. All of this ruins this as a perfect album for me but I still find some of the cream of the crop like “Kerakryps” to be highly exciting and very much looking forward to how this band develops their own sound further as well as hoping they ditch the blatant influences and pack them into more subtle forms of hero worshiping.
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