Ivory Gates - Shapes Of Memory
Megahard Records
Progressive Hard Rock
7 songs (53'03)
Release year: 2002
Ivory Gates, Megahard
Reviewed by Marty
This is the debut release from this new Brazilian band. Ivory Gates was formed in 2000 by bassist Hugo Mazzotti and guitarist Matheus Armelin. They recruited a drummer, keyboard player and two vocalists (one male and one female) and set out to produce very technical and experimental progressive music. This is somewhat of a concept album with the band's name itself symbolizing the Ivory Gates of our dreams. The whole idea is that in our dream world, we either pass through the Gate Of Horns and wake up remembering what we dreamt about with the possibility of making it come true, or we leave the contents of our dreams in our subconscious, contained within the Ivory Gates, to be revisited at a later time.

This album only has 7 tracks yet clocks in at over 53 minutes in length. Most songs are from 5 to 9 minutes long with one track, the final track, clocking in at over 12 minutes long. The band uses a wide variety of sounds and styles in their music and ranges from quiet piano and acoustic guitar passages to heavy guitar and keyboard blended riffing. The more technical and abstract styles represented on this album really bring bands like Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery and Fates Warning to mind. In a couple of instances, the vocals lines and guitar riffs almost have a Queensryche sound to them. The band has a very progressive sound but isn't afraid to turn up the guitars and really rock out with some wild and very technical instrumental passages. Because of the length of most of the tracks, there's plenty of lengthy instrumental passages and in a few cases, vocal lines are kept to a minimum. The guitar playing of Matheus Armelin is very good and also very technical. He has a big sound and rips into some wild leads at times that are simply phenomenal. He has a style that reminds me of John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and also of Alex Lifeson (Rush). Keyboard sounds range from some very nice melodic piano lines to more wilder Kansas style organ frenzies and even some Emerson, Lake and Palmer type fast synthesizer scale runs. The blend of heavy guitars and keyboards really works well with this band.

The male vocals of Miguel Pupin were a real surprise. He has a great strong voice and has a style and range that reminds me of such great vocalists as Andre Matos (Angra, Shaman), Michael Kiske (Helloween, Supared) and even a little like Geoff Tate (Queensryche). He has a pure and soaring voice that is a real asset to this band. The use of female vocals as well, mainly as backing vocals, really adds lots of melody and color to the choruses of the songs and there's even a vocal duet in the form of vocal rounds used on the son Transcendence, a power ballad style song that alternates between quiet and heavy passages....an album highlight! What I Believe, unquestionably the albums best track, has it all. Aggressive and heavy riffing mixed with quiet acoustic parts coupled with some wild and abrupt tempo changes, all come together to produce a 12 minute epic that just covers all the best that progressive metal has to offer.

Those who may have skipped ahead and saw my scoring for this review may wonder why it didn't score higher. First of all, the drum sound is very thin and I must say, this band needs not only a bigger and more powerful drum sound, but they may want to look for another drummer. His playing style is not up to the quality and technical ability of the rest of this band and his shortcomings are very noticeable. Even though both vocalists have great voices and sound very well together, some of the vocal melodies don't add much to the songs and often take a back seat to the instrumentation. Most songs, although having some great technical riffing, lack melodic hooks or even a sense of focus or style. Their songs seem a bit disjointed and at times this band is all over the place, trying to be too technical. All of the elements are there for this band to succeed (except maybe for the drums), they just need to hone their craft and try to organize their songs a little better. With improvements in those aforementioned areas, this band could be a major player in the Progressive Metal scene. In some instances, I like very much what I hear of this band and it's not bad for a first album. I'll carry those highlights with me in anticipation of a much-improved second album from a much-improved band.

Killing Songs :
Transcendence and What I Believe
Marty quoted 67 / 100
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