Andromeda
The Immunity Zone

Failing to catch me upon a couple of initial spins, The Immunity Zone, a fourth release from Sweden’s Progressive Metal eccentrics Andromeda, finally lured me into its trap by means of its huge instrumental sections and extremely impressive songwriting. I always thought that one of the principal attributes of Andromeda’s music was its covert ability to reveal new details with every subsequent listen, and, thankfully, the latest material isn’t an exception in that regard. Perhaps it’s not as surprising as their wonderful debut Extension Of The Wish and not so hypnotically melodic as the previous gem Chimera, but The Immunity Zone still retains many of the positives that make this band’s creations such a tempting experience for me. This is the case when everything seems to be perfect, from the mellow deep baritone of their singer David Fremberg (Space Odyssey) to the unbelievably delirious collaboration between guitarist Johan Reinholdz (Nonexist, Opus Atlantica, Skyfire) and keyboardist Martin Hedin, all of whom are the major composing combo whose joint efforts unify into something nearly as bright as the constellation they named themselves after.

So what’s the big deal about The Immunity Zone and this band in general? First, unlike many others in the scene, these guys work to sound a bit different every time they show up with new material. They resort to neither cut and paste tricks nor hold on to the same formulas, enriching their sonic tapestries with many additions unheard before. For example, the gorgeous vocal ornamentation on “Ghosts Of Retinas” mesmerizes with its half-whispering back-up crew and multiple layers. Also, I have never heard David sound as diverse and inventive on any other Andromeda’s album. It is suffice to hear him jumping from the softer soulful style to some sort of semi-croaking on “Worst Enemy” to see that the band’s new singing plan works just fine here. And while the guitar and keyboard interactions have always been considered these guys’ cutting edge, they feel lonely no more in stealing the show. It’s about time to say that the vocal work is at least of equal stature on this new one.

Never rushing along, the songs mainly belong in the mid-tempo category yet frequently show lots of changes in rhythms and moods. The bass and drums not only do an excellent coordinating job but are allowed many fine improvisations as can be heard on typical opener “Recognizing Fate” or the stunning 17-minute prog epic “Veil Of Illumination”. Nevertheless, the manipulating role is, as usual, allotted to Johan’s impressive guitars, which frequently leap from massive crunchy riffery to beautiful string decors, and to Martin’s keyboard’s insanity, which is more than apparent nearly on every track with its complex arrangements and short yet incredibly recognizable solos. The only piece that I don’t much care for is “Slaves Of The Plethora Season”, which, while offering a pretty catchy riff and scattering of tasty licks, somehow goes off the rails because of the typical “discotheque” sound of the keys completely dominating the chorus parts.

If lately I find it a bit difficult to sit through an entire album by the arguable Kings of Progressive Metal (read Dream Theater), I don’t have any similar problems with bands such as Andromeda, Circus Maximus or Seventh Wonder, for this new representation of the genre has not become bloated and always manages to make all the possible and impossible prog tricks work for the sake of the listeners, not just for the musicians themselves. If I were you, I’d certainly give a chance to The Immunity Zone, even if one has only a passing interest in the genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
October 6th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: STIFFY

    Very nice review. Welcome


  2. Commented by: Belgarath

    Great review. Really looking foreward to getting this album.


  3. Commented by: Staylow

    Great review, as always Igor. I need to check this out, along with their back catalog.


  4. Commented by: ceno

    I think their debut Extension Of The Wish would be more to your taste than anything else, Staylow, as it features Lawrence Mckrory from Darkane on the vocals.


  5. Commented by: Phil

    Their debut is the best, IMO.


  6. Commented by: Vance

    Saw these guys at ProgPower in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, they played a pretty good set, Johan is an amazing shredder and he alone pretty much stole the show, the rest of the band just stood around and pointed towards him and occasionally hit a note, then took another bite out of their $5 footlongs. I think the ONLY reason to like this band is the guitar work, everything else was very mediocre. I still look back on that weekend and cannot believe I actually went to ProgPower, sat through two days of Pantene and silk shirts…. Amorphis did kick some serious ass though.


  7. Commented by: Stiffy

    Johan is Reinholdz is actually a part of Skyfire now. Looking forward to hearing from those guys again this year.


  8. Commented by: Desperado

    Nice to see some love for their debut.I always thought I was alone on that.


  9. Commented by: Chris

    The debut was the only album of theirs that I have enjoyed.


  10. Commented by: Lunarsight

    I liked their debut, but I thought II=I was their best album. (Parasite and the next two tracks are pretty jaw-dropping.)

    The new album is still growing on me. I’m not sure what to think yet.


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