Dark progressive metal isn’t something I’m overly familiar with. Epysode is the brain child of Samuel Arkan, most notably of Virus IV. Obsessions takes us on a dark twisting journey with some of brightest stars of prog-metal, with members from Ayreon, Communic and At Vance stepping up to contribute to Epysode’s ‘ultimate melodic progressive metal album’.
I’m going to start by saying that Obsessions is a lot to take in one sitting. There are so many facets to the album, even ignoring the annoying spoken word intros. The fragile Silences of Dawn opens the record proper, the haunting piano melody tinkling over the rumbling bass, the urgent female vocals drowning the peaceful acoustic guitar that began the piece. And then, unsurprisingly, it all goes a bit Pete Tong as First Blood thunders out with it’s multi-layered vocals.
It’s not all proggy-ooh-look-at-me-while-i-play-a-van-der-graff-generator nonsense, however. The songwriting is blisteringly strong and whoever came up with the chorus for Invisible Nations deserves a medal for seamlessly blending it into a myriad of back-and-forth vocals between the sexes and a brilliant keyboard solo. The following Gemini Syndrome strips it all back to a sole piano and another male/female duo, a beautiful ballad that thankfully doesn’t dive into the token ‘let’s go for a massive guitar ending’ that power ballads drop into like clichés are going out of fashion. Fallen Portrait, however, reminds you that we’re not here to wear skirts like little girls and ruins your ears before Season Of Redemption thunders out at a break neck tempo before deliver some jarring orchestration and, quite frankly, ridiculously virtuosos guitar.
Obsessions isn’t just for the progressive fans; it’s for everyone who’s waited for a thoughtful metal album that will pound you across the face one minute before tugging on your heart-strings the next. While Epysode might owe a little too much to A. A. Lucassen, Obsessions is a perfect bedfellow to last year’s Star One record, Victims Of A Modern Age, but it’s more versatile, crafted more finely and diverse to a point of a fault.