When Time Fades...

The terms “symphonic”, “progressive”, and “power” are the Blessed Trinity of Metal that accompanies a lot of present-day bands trying their fortune in becoming a new Savatage, Symphony X or Angra. With their three albums, New Jersey-based quintet Suspyre have shown that they are versed in any of the three. While the debut The Silvery Image saw the band mostly galloping through the Power Metal fields, the sophomore disc A Great Divide was strongly attached by all sorts of symphonic attributes showing a thoroughly veiled bent for Symphony X trends, both at the vocal and instrumental fronts. The band’s third and newest creation When Time Fades… is by far their most Progressive and least Power Metal to date. Yet it retains most of the qualities presented before, simultaneously warming up the interest with a number of previously unheard novelties.

Crafted around a mid-tempo groove, opener “Possession” sounds like a courteous salute to the 70’s-era Art Rock legends stunning with its elaborate interplays between the guitars and Hammond organ in the vein of early Genesis or ELP, as well as presenting a massive jazzy interlude based upon the tricky rhythmic changes and all sorts of instrumental intricacy. Yet it can’t be left out of the metal category, due to the thick guitar tone prevailing throughout the track. Actually, the major surprise for me here is this album’s ability to sound somewhat outmoded without remaining banal or vapid for a split second. Multiple tributes to the rock achievements of the last millennium thrown in here and there make listening to a large amount of the new material akin to paying a visit to a curiosity shop full of forgotten oddities. It’s probably the first case when I can hear the robotized voxes a-la Kraftwerk and beautiful vocal overtones bowing to the 80’s-era Jeff Lynne implemented so well on a metal album. And it is these very elements, along with lots of other surprises, that one cannot miss while being exposed to the astoundingly arranged “Evolutions”, “Lighted Endrhyme”, “Siren (One Last Breath)”, or “Reign”.

Another thing that cannot slip one’s attention is this record’s well-calculated pedantry displayed by almost every new chord and move. Unlike the band’s previous offerings having their rough edges, the new songs tend to change paces and patterns nearly with kaleidoscopic fluidity impressing with its sudden yet opportune slides from heartwarming summery areas with tasteful strings and harmonies to spacious half-symphonic territories to much darker and more cramped musical labyrinths with tons of crunchy shredding and twin soloing. The omnipresent saxophone adds to the jazzy facet of the album and is a bit more conspicuous than on the other releases. The vocal investments are even more affluent and the brief growl inclusions in “Lighted Endrhyme” “Light Of The Fire” and “Let Freedom Ring” create a harsh contrast neighboring upon the lighter, almost celestial choruses. If only the guys could use more of these extreme vocals in future they would certainly expand their current fanbase.

I had hard time trying to pick the album’s highlights as every one of the tracks presented here is a spring of interesting ideas capable of captivating the most skeptical prog fan. However, I can’t help admiring the grandiose 11-minute culmination “Let Freedom Ring” with its fountain of emotions gushing out of its varicolored guitars and patterned textures. It has all sorts of hooks in its arsenal from catchy vocal melodies to unexpected riff gallops to prodigiously bright acoustic guitar solos. Honestly, the more I listen to this epic the more I feel like calling it my favorite song of the year, so impressed am I with its colossal manifolds! Of course, the guys couldn’t do without a nicely done ballad, and “Fallen Stars” is an excellent all acoustic piece featuring beautiful rhythm guitars and subtle tomtom-like drumming. It should be said that Suspyre’s ballads don’t fall under the power metal category and have a summer-like feel conjuring up deserted sandy beaches and tranquil oceanic waters.

Drawing a final line, I should say that When Time Fades… stands a very good chance to displace my current candidate for the album of the year title, which is Mercy Falls, the latest conceptual masterpiece from Swedish Progressive metallers Seventh Wonder, and this is what I could never expect to happen till the year end. I feel a bit sorry now about not having an opportunity to review When Time Fades… a bit earlier, prior to its release date, as the album of this caliber certainly deserves.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
October 25th, 2008


  1. Commented by: xBenx

    Wow, sounds amazing!!! Gonna check this out, very good review Igor.

  2. Commented by: ceno

    Thanks, xBenx. Mission complete. :lol: Hope you get a kick out of this album.

  3. Commented by: bast

    Really got my curiosity, i´m digging “Possession” at their myspace (and the cover artwork).
    Not my usual style, thought i like Circus Maximus´s Isolate, and everything by Pain of Salvation, if I may.
    Nice review.

  4. Commented by: Cello

    Agree with every word.

  5. Commented by: Jason

    Great review and very articulate in describing the music. I own all 3 of their albums. I disagree that their previous records had “rough edges”, especially in the arrangement category… I’ve always thought that aspect was what made Suspyre stand out among the thousands of prog-metal DT copy bands. I do like death vocals in some contexts, but Clay’s voice is so powerful, I’d hate to see them shift their main focus from him melodically singing.

  6. Commented by: ceno

    Thanks for the comments, guys. Jason, I also have all of their albums and like ’em a lot. Actually I was so impressed with A Great Divide in its day I gave it 10 out of 10 in my review for another site. I still think it’s a great album as well as the debut, but their previous attempts still stay a bit in the shadow of the perfection that is When Time Fades… By rough edges I most probably implied some tiny less inspired parts of their earlier work.

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