Nation Beyond
The Aftermath Odyssey

Slap a sticker on the front that says this record will appeal to fans of Savatage, Queensryche and Evergrey, and you’ve got my attention. Of course, then you’ve got a promise to deliver on, and unfortunately Nation Beyond doesn’t. A concept album set following nuclear apocalypse (how original), The Aftermath Odyssey admittedly has its moments, but  the comparisons to Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead and Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime, perhaps two of the most highly regarded metal concept records ever, are way off base. The Aftermath Odyssey opens, a bit ironically, with “The End,” a song supposed to set up the end of the world. A military drumbeat rumbles under news clips and soundbytes from George W. Bush. That’s followed by the mournful “A Rainy Day in Hell,” with some interesting operatic backing vocals. Where I think Nation Beyond really misses the mark is when they keep slowing their sound down. The third track, “In the Ashes,” opens with a raging fury that probably would have made a better start to the record. It’s the first thing here that really made me pay attention and the first thing that sounds like any of the three bands on the sticker, but they slow it down immediately, I guess in an attempt to give the verse impact. There’s a nice little Savatage-like build-up to the chorus, but to be honest, I’d rather hear them going all out for the full song. It becomes a pattern through the course of the record, a big, explosive opening, followed by a lull that kind of kills the excitement. Like most such projects, there are a few high-concept ballads, like “The Council” and “Soul Mates” (which for some reason they also  decided to include a radio edit), that just fall flat. That’s not to say that all the slow work on the record is boring. “New Eden City” opens with a nice, heavy plodding riff and follows through with a slightly exotic melody, making it one of the more memorable tunes here.  Ultimately, though, the songs on The Aftermath Odyssey all kind of sound the same and run together after a while. The guitar work of Jonas Karlgren and Micko Twedberg is fairly solid, but apart from the opening track, Johan Helgesson’s drums often feel thin and too far back in the mix. Nielz Lindstrom has a decent voice, but he’s certainly no Jon Oliva or Geoff Tate. And the songwriting just isn’t there. I think, often, concept albums focus too much on getting the story across and not enough on delivering memorable songs, and that’s the trap that this one falls into. Too often, the songs feel like numbers that were composed on paper rather than products of a band coming together to create the best music they can. Paul O’Neill and Jon Oliva may be able to get away with that, but Nation Beyond can’t.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
March 30th, 2008

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