ILLUSION SUITE – The Adventures Of Arcan

ILLUSION SUITE - The Adventures Of Arcan


Release date: May 16, 2005

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After the new waves of British Heavy Metal, German Power Metal, Italian Spaghetti Metal, and Swedish Melo-Death Metal, it’s tempting to say Norwegian Prog Metal is the new “thing” in Heavy Metal. Conception paved the way 15 years ago, and Pagan’s Mind, Circus Maximus, Highland Glory, Gaia Epicus, and Departure Plan are just a few bands involved in what has become a very vibrant and pulsating scene. Illusion Suite is a great addition to this line of fine bands, their second EP, entitled The Adventures of Arcan easily shows that, although there are some small ditties to correct before the next time.

After a very genre-fitting synth intro, “The Devil in Your Heart” kicks off the ball, and after quite a few spins, this track steps forth as a very good opener. The opening theme may be a bit too similar to Circus Maximus’ “The 1st Chapter” (the song), but as soon as singer Bill Makatowicz opens his mouth, there’s no doubt the band has an identity of their own. His voice is definitely unique, sporting a very laid-back quality, and he has good range. The song itself is, as mentioned, pretty cool, though … give it some time and several cool melodies and small details in the arrangement will suddenly pop out.

“Once We Were Here” is next, and this may be the EP’s highlight – if one ignores the very annoying keyboard intro, which sounds more like the background music to a Nintendo 64 game than anything else. The main theme/chorus melody is very cool indeed, majestic and beautiful as it is, and the track has enough variation to keep the listener entertained all the way through. The vocal harmonies – performed by Michael, Truls, and Mats from Circus Maximus are brilliant throughout, along with in “Once We Were Here.” Guitarist Øyvind “Lionheart” Larsen also lays down some cool riffing in this track, the very Symphony X sounding part at 3:45, for example.

“Pandora’s Box” is probably the most progressive of the lot, with a trademark Symphony X/Michael Romeo intro and a very Broadway-sounding verse part. Both work very well, and once again the backing vocals have to be mentioned. Still, the track may be the weakest of the four, as it lacks a bit in structure and several parts are too anonymous. It may not be big alterations that have to be made, but the vocal melodies are too easily forgotten, and the track also lacks in the “power” department – the guitars are too low in the mix. This is the main (and possibly only) complaint on the sound, and it is most obvious on this track because it has the most layers of synth.

The EP closes with the 15-minute title track, and for those of you who fear that an unsigned Norwegian band attempting such a musical task may be a bit too ambitious for their own good – fear absolutely nothing, this is a great composition – varied, melodic, atmospheric, and cleverly arranged. The band gets to show every side of their music, and it’s all put together in an intelligent way, making the song sound like one whole composition and not a bunch of riffs glued together without reason and rhyme. Anette Gulbrandsen also contributes with some female vocals to spice things up, and that works fine. Still, though, the track lacks that one highlight part which rings in your head for hours after turning off the stereo, though, so there’s not a real climax so to speak.

This is just quibbling, though, as the band has made an EP to be proud of, and it should be possible to get a deal based on this product as it is now. In addition to Makatowics and “Lionheart” Larsen, the band consists of Dag Erik Johnsen on bass and Roger Bjørge on drums and backing vocals, and together, these four (more or less) young men indeed form a solid line-up, despite the small vocal-related criticisms. There’s more cool stuff to come from Illusion Suite, be sure of that.


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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