ILLUSION OF CLARITY – Ambivalent Existence

ILLUSION OF CLARITY - Ambivalent Existence


Release date: November 19, 2004

Guitars: A-
Bass: B
Percussion: B
Vocals: D+
Lyrics: B
Recording Quality: B+
Originality: B+
Overall Rating: C+

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Illusion of Clarity is a 5-man band from Sweden, formed initially from the remnants of the band Hellstream, and at the end of 2004, they released their second EP, entitled Ambivalent Existence, a follow-up to their debut EP, released early in 2004, entitled The Three Fiends. Although an EP, Illusion of Clarity allow the listeners to get their money’s worth, as the 4 tracks in Ambivalent Existence elapse 31 minutes – heck, you’ve probably come across a number of full length albums over the years that have failed to surpass that mark! The songs included on this EP are: “Faceless,” “Beyond Borders of Logic,” Legacy of a Cold Heart,” and “Unconscious Minds.” The band shifted musical styles a bit this time … The Three Fiends, stylistically, had a mix of Classic, Progressive, and Thrash Metal traits. Ambivalent Existence, however, has indeed gravitated more towards a Progressive style, although Neo-Classic Metal traits still can be heard within each of the songs.


As with their first EP, the 4 songs here have excellent guitar work, with plenty of varied styles and very welcomed extended musical jam sessions. Compared to the band’s first EP, the production quality of Ambivalent Existence is far better too, especially noticeable with the drum sound. With respect to the songs … well, the unfortunate similarity to The Three Fiends is that there’s about 15:30 of great stuff, and 15:30 of music that’s pretty hard to listen to. Focusing on the good, however, in this section, “Beyond Borders of Logic” is probably the best song Illusion of Clarity has put out to date. It’s got a great 1-minute opening, matches the lyrics with the music quite well, and features some really impressive instrumental passages. Other than this, “Unconscious Minds” has a great opening too, although this one is 45 seconds, and “Legacy of a Cold Heart” delivers some really sincere and reflective ballad sections to it, along with some cool Vintersorg-ish Progressive up-tempo sections within it too.


Similar to their first EP, the vocals and the method in which they are delivered are the weak points for Illusion of Clarity. Patrik Forsberg at the microphone has some real talent … that is, when he sings in a “regular” voice. The problem is he just can’t hold and sustain musical tones when moving up to the high octaves, and it flat out kills the enjoyment of a few of the songs, in particular, the opener, “Faceless,” and parts of “Legacy of a Cold Heart” and “Unconscious Minds.” When the band attempts to harmonize, the high-end notes are even worse. To boot, the tempo at which the lyrics are sung in “Faceless” and “Unconscious Minds” simply don’t match the pace of the music, creating an uncomfortable feel in the listener.


As with their first EP, after listening to Ambivalent Existence, the first thing that comes to mind is that this band really has a lot of potential. Guitarists Anders Hallberg and Christian Skarby log in a stellar performance on each song, and improvements were definitely made when mixing in the drums this time around. A thought surfaces that the song structures displayed in this EP would almost be better suited to being all instrumentals, as Illusion of Clarity has a tendency to completely change the structure of their songs multiple times before they’re over. It is the Progressive way to include plenty of complexity within this genre’s music, but Illusion of Clarity may almost be better served to make their tracks shorter by splitting some of their tunes into two or three separate songs that establish a particular groove that they can maintain through to the end. By doing this, it’s also possible that it will be easier in the writing process to draft lyrics and vocal schemes that better match the music style and tempo. Overall, though, there are some definite strong points in this EP, and from start to finish, the band has put out a stronger product this time around compared to their first effort!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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