Burn The Sun

I suppose you could call Ark a supergroup. The band’s pedigree is more than impressive. Guitarist Tore Ostby (Conception, DC Cooper), drummer John Macaluso (TNT, Yngwie) and vocalist Jorn Lande (Beyond Twilight, Millenium) got together a couple of years ago with the collective hope of making music with no boundaries. Their resulting self-titled effort was nothing short of a masterpiece of melodic, progressive metal music; even if it was only their demos pressed to CD. Fusing metal riffing, classic rock vocals, prog-rock drumming and even Caribbean and Flamenco influences, the record stunned prog metal fans around the world.

Now for their second effort Burn The Sun, the band recruited keyboard master Mats Olausson (Yngwie) and fretless bass god Randy Coven to fill out their already stellar unit. The biggest mistake anyone could make with regards to this record is to simply label it ‘prog-metal.” That definition does not begin to describe the musical and artistic outpouring found here. There too much diversity to even attempt proper conveyance. But, this is a review, is it not? Ok, I’ll give it a shot. Burn The Sun is an absolutely breathtaking example of what passionate musicians can accomplish when the chemistry is right. And, boy, is there ever a vast amount of chemistry on this album. A lot of bands have to release records for 10 years or more to achieve this kind of record. I hear everything from metal, jazz, funk, electronic influence to blues in this music. In other words, they have achieved their original musical vision here in spades! No boundaries!

Opening cut ‘Heal The Waters’ is an intense, syncopated driver with arcs and valleys filled with emotion and virtuosity. Lande’s vocal melody, as on the entire album, could not be any more perfect or well fitting. The man’s voice is simply flawless. The instrumental section has one of the records more eye-popping moments as well. The song ‘Absolute Zero’ begins with a sparse clean guitar melody accented by Coven’s precision bass fills. The verses have an odd, Bjork-like feel to them. This is a vocal character Jorn doesn’t delve into too much. It works well. Macaluso’s drumming here is very jazz-like as well. Ostby gets to stretch his Flamenco muscles once again on the outstanding ‘Just A Little.” The acoustic soloing on the intro is smooth and inspiring. Lande’s chorus shows off one of his many strengths, which is melody combined with soulful feel. The verses are an odd-time acoustic strumming fest. Olausson pulls off an impressive organ solo here as well leading into a great electric solo by Ostby. This song, like all the others, contains some amazing transitional changes showing just what this powerhouse band is made of. The way they flow from part to part is both fluid and technically jaw-dropping. ‘Noose’ has one of the albums more metal moments in the opening riff. There are some great guitars layered in this one. The 9-minute closing track ‘Missing You’ has some obvious Gilmour-isms on the opening solo. A dark, sad song it moves and slides along velvet synth textures and an oozing bass and drum groove. Lande is clearly the star of this tune, though. This one takes the award for the albums most emotional vocal melody. Ostby has his shining moments as well in his solo section.

Ok, I am clearly running out of adjectives to describe the amazing music found on this album. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who is a fan of the progressive genre, be it metal, rock, fusion, or otherwise, needs to own a copy of Burn The Sun. From this point, I honestly doubt I’ll hear a better album this year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
March 21st, 2001


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