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CD Review: Thought Chamber – Angular Perceptions

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thoughtchamber angularperceptionsWhat an album cover!  An electric eye sizes up a scantily clad woman, whose hair looks freshly shampooed, and who casts two faint neon shadows if you look closely enough.  Floating in the electric eye are math equations, while the album title is written in Greek letters.  Awesomely over-the-top, and so prog metal.

Angular Perceptions, the debut album by Dallas' Thought Chamber, exemplifies both the possibilities and pitfalls of prog metal.  On one hand, the instrumental and ensemble work is absolutely flawless.  This is virtuosic music by virtuosos.  But while the shredding is relatively tasteful compared to, say, '80s Shrapnel wankfests, the songs get lost in the process.  This album offers many thrilling moments, but few stick.

This may not matter, depending on your love of the genre.  Even the most diehard, say, Cannibal Corpse fan would likely be hard-pressed to differentiate songs on the first few CC albums – yet those records still inspire devotion due to their overall sound.

The same applies here.  Guitarist Michael Harris and keyboardist Bobby Williamson trade amazingly technical runs, Rob Stankiewicz's drumming is crisp and tasty, and Ted Leonard's soaring vocals hit all the right notes.  On this all-star team, bassist Derek Blakley emerges as the leader, with incredible  performances all over the record, including jawdropping slap bass and arpeggios on "Transmigration of Souls."

When the band slows down and takes time to carve out atmospheric grooves, as it does on "Sacred Treasure" and "A Mind Beyond," the songs finally assume distinct identities.  With dizzying arrangements and chops galore, this album is colorful indeed, but blindingly so.


Thought Chamber on MySpace
InsideOut Records

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