Now here’s a little tidbit I totally missed out on and would have continued to miss if not for the guidance of a loyal AMG reader. Oceans of Time is a power-prog band from Norway and Faces is their debut full length. Taking cues from a swath of bands like Mind Odyssey, Ivory Tower, Anubis Gate, and of course, Dream Theater, they aren’t exactly doing anything new. However, they do the power-prog thing very well and manage to be technical, catchy and diverse. Faces has more than it’s share of impressive, technical playing and showboating, but the songs remain accessible, largely instantaneous and hooky. The wankery is there, but it doesn’t distract or derail the songs. You gotta love that.
Like most power-prog, Faces is replete with scads of guitar heroics accompanied by nearly as much (and sometimes more) keyboard histrionics. Unlike most power-prog, Oceans of Time injects a fair amount of Jethro Tull style flute-ery. Songs like opening instrumental “Quest for Mystery” pull out all the stops, with dizzying stop-start tempo shifts, mile-a-minute riffing, guitar hero soloing, neo-classic keyboards and all the rest of the exclusive European musical conservatory. Despite the manic display of musical might, the entire song is listenable and engaging. This segues nicely into “Walls of Silence and Ken Lyngfoss is finally allowed to join the fray and showcase his slick delivery and hooky vocal patterns. A pleasingly big, emotional chorus awaits and the song reeks of technical class and finely polished chops. The dueling keyboard and guitar solos are tasteful and the whole band impresses.
Elsewhere, we get the more linear charm of “The Beast,” with quality vocals, a memorable chorus, satisfyingly aggressive riffing and of course…flutes! Speaking of flutes, they really add to the stew during the title track when they play off the riffing in a winning way. It’s such a simple touch, but it pays big dividends. ”Kingdom Falls” takes on a much more typically Euro-power style and lays the twinkling keys on thick as a brick, but it works and it’s catchy and energetic with an overblown, bombastic chorus to boot.
Other moments of note include the rollercoaster instrumental “A Touch of Insanity” which includes blast beats and slightly blackened riffs, and the epic and muscular machismo of “Roar of the Organs” (that song title bothers me a bit). Song after song clicks and finds a way into your brain, regardless of your desire to have it there. Hell, even “Uncertainty,” the semi-sappy love song with weepy female vox manages to work.
While the song writing is the most impressive part of Faces, I have to take my hat off to the band and their obviously insane talent levels. Lasse Jensen is a guitar monster and Nickolas Main Henriksen is equally monstrous on keys. Lyngfoss isn’t the most unique of singers, but he has a commanding voice with enough range to navigate the twists and turns the material throws at him. Of special interest is the rather otherworldly drumming of Baard Kolstad (Borknagar, ICS, Vortex). He’s all over the map on some of these songs and I found myself paying more attention than usual to the back line due to this playing.
I’m not sure why this didn’t get more of a push from Melodic Revolutions Records and why there wasn’t more buzz, but whatever the reason, I’m glad I found out about this album. If you like power-prog, you should hunt it down. It’s an insidious grower with a lot going on between the hooky moments. Steel Druhm is bitter he didn’t find this on his own, but thanks for the head’s up! Bastards…