Reviews : Albums : Antiquus, "Eleutheria"

Antiquus, "Eleutheria"

Very interesting - and how you feel about those two words in relationship to traditional metal will determine how you’ll react to this album. According to Wikipedia, “Eleutheria” is Greek for “liberty” (and also a Samuel Beckett play) - according to Antiquus, it’s a cryptically-charted paradise island that was being sought by a British sea captain in service to the king back when discovering new lands was a the “in“ thing to do. There are eight tracks on the record, the first six (clocking in at around 43 minutes) are a concept suite based on the story of said sea captain and his discovery of the elusive island and the peril it brings him. I’m not going to delve into the concept, because its meaning eludes me. The ending left me totally baffled (lyrics would have helped tremendously - why bands don’t utilize their web sites for this sort of thing is another enigma). There's the message that pillaging the virgin land and shaping into something it's not is bad, but there's much more to it than this (I reckon).

Musically, it’s prog rock meets heavy metal. The tracks are long and the arrangements are complex with extended instrumental passages. There’s no flashy shredding, but plenty of melodic guitar leads and harmonies abound and some well done multi-tracked acoustic guitars crop up from time to time (the band makes good use of its two guitarists, often playing complimentary parts rather than following one another). The group is striving to be epic, and to their credit they succeed in that endeavor by utilizing the traditional elements of guitars, drums and a single vocalist - no orchestras, no choirs, no keyboards (although they do delve into play acting, something that might annoy some listeners, but it helped me to better decipher what the devil was going on in the story, so I appreciate it).

The riffs are intriguing, ranging from the typical straight forward head-bobbers to jerky syncopation to muddy, chaotic pummeling. Bass is a monster on this album, really pulverizing and omnipresent - man is that nice to hear. Vocals fall into the traditional ‘80s prog metal vein, being high pitched and slightly gritty. Thankfully they are handled well and the only time that the singer starts to sound maniacal and beyond the pale is when the lyrics call for it - so it’s planned - as I suspect every note on this album was. It’s an intricate piece of work, though the major caveat is that the band takes pride in being non-commercial, thus there is a decided lack of vocal hooks and sing-along choruses to be found.

If you’re into metal solely to raise your fist and scream along, not much of “Eleutheria” will please you, but if you’re into listening and like musical interplay, there’s plenty of crafty work here to satisfy (if you don’t require the typical prog prerequisite of virtuoso shredding). The promo sheet cites Slough Feg and Manilla Road as reference points, and I whole-heartedly agree with that (the entire “Eleutheria” story sounds as if Slough Feg and Manilla Road sat down with mid-period Iron Maiden and expanded upon “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.) So, all in all this is a rewarding listen and recommended to traditional metal fans with a penchant for prog.

Standout Tracks

   Part V - I Am Alive
   KT Event
   Part IV - Redemption
   Part VI - Leaves of Grass