Lance King, like Elvis, is everywhere. He’s sang for a ton of bands (Balance of Power, Pyramaze, Avian, Empire etc. etc.), he runs Nightmare Records and still found the time to record and release his first solo album, A Moment in Chiros. For those unfamiliar with his body of work, Mr. King is the quintessential prog-power metal singer. His voice is versatile, powerful and his range is impressive. He sounds equally at home alongside melodic power metal and thoughtful prog-metal. For his debut solo project, he’s brought in elements of both and made damn sure everything is super-duper melodic, even symphonic at times. To assist him in this endeavor, he recruited a mighty host of friends, including members of Anubis Gate, Beyond Twilight and Adagio. The final product (which was apparently written and recorded in only three months) will remind many of Empire-era Queensryche mixed with elements of Dream Theater, Pagan’s Mind, Anubis Gate and of course, Lance’s other units, especially Balance of Power. There are moments where Lance and company shine as bright as the sun and there’s some interesting material here for fans of power-prog. However, A Moment in Chiros struggles with the consistency of quality and this ultimately hurts things, which is a real shame.
Although a Moment in Chiros is a concept album revolving around the 11:11 time prompt phenomenon, I won’t waste anyone’s “time” trying to explain it. Dammit, Steel Druhm’s a reviewer, not a Scientology wonk! Things begin quite solidly with “A Sense of Urgency,” which is a nice introduction to the variety of melodic metal Lance specializes in. It’s laid back, with low-key guitar work. The keyboards give it a slightly symphonic flavor and Lance’s vocals sound classy and smooth as silk. Thereafter, things ramp up with a suite of great songs including the poignant and memorable ”Awakening,” the more aggressive “Manifest Destiny” and the impossibly hooky “A Given Choice.” All are top-notch examples of modern-day power-prog with moments of emotion and beauty (3:37 of “Manifest Destiny” is one). Other quality moments include the title track and “Dance of Power.”
Sadly, as the album progresses, the quality trails off and later tracks feel slapped together and rather bland (“Joy Everlasting” and “Sacred Systems”). Other songs, while not bad, don’t really grab me (“Transformation” and “Infinity Divine”). Another problem involves the spoken word, “new agey” segments that pop up throughout the album. They serve to advance the concept in the most general way but they come across as cheesy and annoying.
Complaints aside, A Moment in Chiros has a great sound. It’s rich, warm, lush and polished as all hell. While never overly heavy, the guitars do have a decent crunch. Although the keys are very prominent, this always feels like a metal album, albeit a very melodic one. Lance sounds great throughout and showcases the versatility and range of his pipes. He even elevates a song or two from average to good. The good stuff here is so good, it makes me wish they spent more time refining the writing so this could have been a better album. The first half is 4.0 worthy, the back-end, not so much.
As a fan of Mr. King’s work, I wanted this to be better but it does have about half an album’s worth of strong, enjoyable material. I love the guy’s voice and I’ll support whatever project he’s involved in. I hope next time he can churn out an entire album of the same high quality as the first half here. Fans of classy prog-power and melodic metal should check this out and see for themselves.