After a single and an EP here comes the debut concept album for this Norwegian Prog Metal act, with 8 tracks dealing with hate, loneliness, fear, lies, revenge (and those are the finest lyrics), time passing by and passing out, and a pretty artistic booklet layout all in black and white.
Despite the tradition, the record isn't too long and this is also because "Tales of A Madman" isn't your typical Prog Metal album; there is Depressive Rock, Stoner Metal and much more in these 37 minutes, opened by "Event Horizon", an arpeggio leading to "Epiphany" without pauses, until a crushing riff with mighty bass lines appears; the rhythm is broken and then slackens, embellished by clean nasal magnetic vocals, a bit threatening and a tad ritualistic. An evocative refrain follows with few Black Metal back-up vocals; soon afterwards the impetuous riff is repeated, and the second guitar embroiders twisted riffs, till a melodic break pops in before the end.
"Confrontation" recurs to modern mid-tempo chunky riffs, when another nice Prog one is threaded into; a melodic part with an arpeggio and delicate vocals accompanies us till the guitar amp is opened to 10; the guitar is later slightly distorted till the fiery climax and later a refrain with clean and growled singing. All of these contrasts prosecute till the end, where psycho vocals in the backdrop are used.
Another arpeggio begins "Doubt", and then a few seconds later the other instruments enter along with the best vocals of the album: dreamy, while the guitar is first squealing and then erupts; other vocals, this time, desperate steal the spotlight for a while; intervals of screams, growls and soft vocal styles continue, helped by drum licks and a slow and brief axe solo. The closure is entrusted with a drum slam and brutal bass in E, even reminding the end of some Nuclear Death songs, no kidding!
"Vengeance" grows fast with reinforced layers of vocals; it's a sheer epic battle song, and this impression is reinforced by whispered menacious clean vocals before the cinematic trilling guitars become protagonists, later recurring to palm-muted rifferama; the voice tone sounds wise and merciless before the guitar prepares the listener for an amazing solo, first slow, then fast and virtuoso, decidedly the top of the ones contained here; a Doom riff comes before the more elaborated final chunk, where the guitars are busy plotting till the final electric stroke.
Few seconds of low-fi sounds and "Discrepancy" changes radically right after; the vocals are stunning and the hardest to perform of the whole record, whereas the pace is rapid and powerful; there's an original riff before the Prog Metal palm-muted one; the vocals are weird and effected in a violent and in-your-face way; a change with whispered vocals, a drum solo, then bass and guitars playing a cameo role, until the refrain comes back and a sombre, solitary arpeggio is put before the chorus one last time; another arpeggio leads without interruptions to the beginning of "Absolution Pt. 1"; this song, vaguely Vintersorg-oriented, grows gradually in intensity in order to explode like a supernova with guitars working delightfully like brushes during the long and variously-nuanced solo and the licks together with clean vocals (and growls for a handful of seconds).
"Absolution Pt. 2" starts without silence after the previous composition, scracthy and steamy, boasting a Prog Metal wicked riff, to then turn cold with clean singing alà Arcturus/Katatonia; the alternation goes on until there's a structure of pure elegant Progressive Death Metal with clean vocals and growling. A perverted Doom riff changes everything, the vehement drums keep the sonic assault, and surprise surprise (!) nighttime funeral keys solo, thus anticipating the return of the initial strophe. Guitars trilling in different manners warm up before the irresistible refrain is employed again to crown these over 7 minutes of enchantment, concluded by a Thrash Metal ride, guitar strums conducting to the end where they play alone.
These four poets from the Norwegian capital have released a CD not for CD's sake, but one that is going to take you on a musical journey. An experience you will likely never forget.