• 9/10
    ILLUSION SUITE - Final Hour - 9/10


Limb Music
Release date: August 7, 2009

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Illusion Suite is a Melodic/Power/Progressive Metal band from Oslo, Norway. The band was initiated by Roger Bjørge (drums) and Øyvind Larsen (guitar) in 2003. Vocalist Bill Makatowicz joined the band in 2004, followed by bass player Dag Erik Johnsen a year later. After the band had completed the recording of their debut album, Final Hour in 2009, keyboardist Ketil Ronold joined the ranks, and the line-up was complete.

The foursome recorded their first demo in 2004, and in 2005 they released their self-funded EP The Adventures of Arcan. Final Hour is Illusion Suite’s first full-length album, and it definitely holds world-class quality. Musically speaking Illusion Suite can be found in the same soundscape as other great Norwegian Power/Prog bands like Pagan’s Mind and Circus Maximus. Even though those two bands can be dubbed the godfathers of Norwegian Power/Prog, Illusion Suite doesn’t lack the professionalism or the precision of either of these two. It may seem a bit pretentious, but Final Hour is just as good, if not better, than the two other bands’ latest records.

After a few songs it’s clear that vocalist Makatowicz has one of the best voices in the genre. That’s a bold statement, you say? Well, check out the album and you’ll hear for yourself. He sings great no matter if it’s a slow part, if he has to scream or when he goes low-pitch. When he goes high-pitch, and really has to use some power to get there, there’s something very Andi Deris-like (Helloween, ex-Pink Cream 69) over his voice. Still he doesn’t sound that much like Andi Deris. Makatowicz really lifts the record up to higher ground.

The keyboard parts are also impressive. At times there are layers of symphonic strings to widen the band’s sound, other times there are incredible shredding solos that play a cat and mouse game with the guitar. Also the different keyboard sounds are varied, and it makes a lot of sense to include the keyboards all over the place because it adds a lot to the band’s expression and nothing seems to be forced. The keyboards are playful and are reminiscent of a bit of Jordan Rudess’ playing in Dream Theater, though they’re not nearly as technical as the latter.

The guitars and drums are powerful on this release, and the cool and inventive guitar riffs from guitarist Larsen are enhanced by the heavy, and often kick drum based, drumming of Bjørge. The bass guitar is a bit anonymous on this record. For most part bass player Johnsen doubles the guitar riffs, and he pulls away from the guitar only a few times. In this setting, however, it seems to work out great. If there were more layers of things going on and more instruments playing solos it could very well have been too much.

Musically speaking the highlights of this record are “The W.I.R.E.,” “Scarlet Skies” and the fifteen minutes long “The Adventures Of Arcan.” In addition to those three, make sure you get a listen to “A Moment To Remember” where Makatowicz perhaps does his most impressive performance on the album. The song also holds a guest performance from the brilliant Isabell Øversveen, a woman with the most enchanting voice.

The production on Final Hour is very clean and you can hear each instrument perfectly. An almost flawless production is also just what to expect from a producer like Markus Teske (Vanden Plas, Symphony X, Dominici) who mixed and mastered the album.

Final Hour is a great album that may need a few spins, but it will grow on you and you’ll find that this is one of the best Power/Prog albums that’s been released in a while. It’s a recommended purchase for Power/Prog lovers, and then some.

The album also comes with a music video for the song “Scarlet Skies.” The video can also be watched underneath this text:


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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