Redemption – I Am the Storm Review

Call me olde and jaded, but I tend to be suspicious of bands that bear the “supergroup” imprimatur. Cautious though I may be, I’ve been a fan of Redemption since their launch way back in 2003. The brainchild of guitarist extraordinaire, Nicolas van Dyk, the project has benefitted from some exceptional frontmen over time, such as Rick Mythiasin (Steel Prophet, New Eden) and Ray Alder (Fates Warning, A-Z), and since 2018s Long Night’s Journey into Day, they’ve had Evergrey’s Tom Englund on the mic. I heartily enjoyed Long Night’s Journey and felt Tom was an ideal fit for the kind of prog-metal Redemption trafficked in. With promo materials promising a dynamic blend of thrash, power, and melodic metal with prog influences this time out, I was eager to hear I Am the Storm. Now that I’ve had some time with their 8th album, however, I feel the promo speak doesn’t quite live up to the end product. While some of the aforementioned elements do make appearances, and good moments inevitably occur, this is a strange, flawed release featuring really odd artistic decisions. Hold fast. Things are about to get stormy.

Things start off very promising with the title track which could easily have been part of any recent Evergrey release. There’s a vague thrash energy underpinning the burly and urgent prog-metal, and Tom Englund sounds great as always. The writing is linear and concise with little time for showboaty side quests. “Seven Minutes from Sunset” is better still and easily the album highlight, blending classic Redemption tropes with elements that remind me of early Dream Theater. This one is very catchy, benefiting from stellar performances across the boards, and Tom kills it vocally. Another highlight is “The Emotional Depiction of Light,” which is the same kind of super sadboi ballad Evergrey always excelled at, and Tom lays on the emotions so thick you’ll feel like you’re in a 24-hour soap opera marathon. Things become very Coldplay-esque at times and this would make a sensational soundtrack for a high school class video montage looking back on 4 years of school come graduation time. It’s a beautiful, emotionally charged song and Tom sells it harder than 5 used car salesmen working under extreme Glengarry Glen Ross conditions.

Things head into troubled waters from there, however. The 14-plus minute album centerpiece, “Action at a Distance” channels Parallels era Fates Warning at times and there are good bits and pieces but the song is way too long and by the eighth minute, it feels like it should end. Instead, it trucks on another six minutes. If you zone out, you’ll be snapped awake by a cover of the Genesis tune “Turn It On Again.” It’s a bizarre choice, and though Redemption did this before, they slotted covers toward the end of their albums and made some effort to choose songs that fit the surrounding material. This one feels jarring and out of place. From there you roll into the 12-plus minutes of “All This Time (and Not Enough)” which is even less interesting than “Action at a Distance,” with way too much wanton wankage inflating the song’s carcass until it floats away. Things limp to a close with yet another version of “The Emotional Depiction of Light” that feels superfluous,1 and finally, a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain” which is clearly superfluous. When the album’s hour and 11 minutes come to an end, I’m left thinking it should have been 45 minutes after judicious editing. The awful choice to drop an upbeat rock cover between the two biggest compositions is strange enough, but adding another cover and an alternate version of a song leaves I Am the Storm feeling both bloated as hell and needlessly padded out.2

As one would expect, the individual performances are impressive. Nicolas van Dyk is pure fire on the strings and dazzles with fretboard pyrotechnics. He’s not averse to showboating but never approaches Yngwie levels of reckless wank insanity. New keyboardist, Vikram Shankar is very talented and the duels between him and van Dyk make for some of the album’s best moments. Adding Tom Englund’s emotive croons to the pot only enhances the flavor. I could listen to Tom sing a medical journal on terminal penile fracture and find it enjoyable, so he helps elevate everything, even when the lyrics aren’t helping (see “Resilience”). He makes the least interesting moments listenable and does more than his fair share. It’s the songwriting, lack of editing, and overall poor choices that drag the album down several notches.

I have a long track record of appreciation for Redemption’s output so I can forgive a bad day at the office. There are roughly 30 minutes of good to very good material here, encased in a package more than twice that length. There’s also much less sizzle and pop than last time, with overly long compositions that offer too little to remember them by. I can’t recommend I Am the Storm, but I do suggest sampling the solid front half. Storm warning issued.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 17th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. There’s not enough differentiating it from the version heard five songs earlier.
  2. I was informed after the review ran that the alternate version of “The Emotional Depiction of Light” and the Peter Gabriel cover are bonus cuts. With this in mind, I would give this a 2.5 instead of a 2.0.
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