Prophecy Within - Demo
Progressive Metal
6 songs (38:12)
Release year: 2009
Official Myspace
Reviewed by Charles
The demo CD I was sent by Prophecy Within lasts far longer than most I come across, at about 40 minutes long- the length of a full album. Not that there’s anything interesting about that fact in itself, but perhaps it demonstrates the amount of work that has obviously gone into it. In terms of production this is extremely rough around the edges, and of course it has the disadvantage of sitting in a corner of the metal world in which “rawness” is a distinct disadvantage. But in terms of songwriting and performance this is fairly (sometimes very) impressive work from a new band clearly on a tight budget, deserving at least to be investigated by admirers of the gleaming sci-fi skyline of prog metal.

It’s all instrumental, and when I read the phrase “instrumental prog” in association with this I felt an inexplicable rush of excitement that it might sound like Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Of course, what it actually is is not prog, but prog metal- less a very loose cult within the broad sphere of rock that thrives on obscurity and eclecticism, and more a specific subgenre that follows a recognisable sound laid down by Dream Theater and co. I like the fact that there are no vocals; it means that it sidesteps the trap that lies in wait for even the best prog metal bands- the temptation to give a band’s whole sound a twee sheen with over-the-top, opera-emulating singers.

Much more important to Prophecy Within is the actual music itself, and rightly so. Compositionally, they do a very good job of generating engaging ideas and hooks which hold the listener’s interest over the course of lengthy, frequently changing epics. There are various resources from which they draw. There are the shiny synth-y washes, filled with a dangerously cheesy grandeur that reminds me of the pristine and polished prog of bands like Poverty’s No Crime, or Dream Theater themselves. These parts are where the low budget becomes problematic. Opening synth mood-builder is the kind of thing that might have you tingling in anticipation, but at this stage sounds a little more like the equivalent of restaging the battle of Minas Tirith from Return of the King with some friends in your back garden. Frequently ingenious and exciting closing epic Ahes of Sundown suffers for the lack of better manipulation of dynamics through production.

The other element of Prophecy Within is the slightly grittier, crunchier riffs that do the leg-work of most of their songs, propping up the periodic flashy solos and ambient textures. They often pull out some proper headbangers, with curious worming shapes, like you might expect to hear from Tool, perhaps. They are also not afraid of Dark Tranquility-like voyages into melodeath ideas, with twin lead lines blending nicely into their often tech-heavy approach to rhythm (the drumming is very proactive here).

A lot of the criticisms I’ve made of the band above seem unfair, because they relate to the resources they have at their disposal rather than their abilities as musicians. The fact is, that where it matters they have a lot of potential and are already producing interesting music. I recommend prog metal devotees give this a listen.

Killing Songs :
Release the Onset
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