SEA OF TRANQUILITY

Strange Land: Catharsis

From Wisconsin comes Strange Land, a progressive metal band who have a few albums to their credit, the latest being Catharsis. A power trio with influences ranging from Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Rush, and Kings X, Strange Land are comprised of Sean Gill (guitars, vocals), Brad Klotz (drums, vocals), and Chad Novell (bass, keyboards, vocals), though at press time the latter has apparently left the band to focus more of his time on instrumental prog-metal act Fibonacci Sequence.

Catharsis is solid metal with a melodic and progressive edge. Strange Land don't try and bludgeon the listener to death with long instrumental passages and overly lengthy songs, but instead have crafted an album with memorable tunes that contain plenty of variety, textures, and thump. "The Man Who Spent Tomorrow" instantly hooks you in, thanks to a very catchy chorus, and there's some dense, Fates Warning inspired darkness to tracks like "One Drop of Water" and "Asinine (Nothing Better)" that is a nice break from much of the prog-metal we hear these days. Gill's guitar riffs are thick & crunchy, and he plays more for the song rather than show off his chops, which is rather refreshing. All three musicians really shine on the 7 part title suite, and as good as the rest of the CD is, it's this near 25-minute that really is the standout here, and shows their progressive roots. Though the rest of the album features more song based material, it's on this epic that the band gets to stretch out a bit, as they approach Dream Theater styled territory with plenty of intricate passages, heavy riffs, and atmospheric & melodic layerings. Vocals throughout this piece, and the entire album for that matter, are well done, somewhat in the style of James LaBrie/Ray Alder/Dug Pinick, always melodic and never overbearing.

Catharsis is ultimately a very satisfying and enjoyable progressive metal release from Strange Land. Though the future seems to be a tad questionable for the band (Gill has recently relocated to Colorado, and they don't appear to have replaced Novell as of yet), hopefully they can continue to deliver exciting music such as this for years to come.

Track Listing

1. Prodigo Cras 1:02

2. The Men Who Spent Tomorrow 5:49

3. Asinine (Nothing Better) 4:36

4. Soul Made Still 5:48

5. One Drop Of Water 5:35

6. Ebb 3:23

7. Catharsis I (Overture) 3:02

8. Catharsis II (100 Years Of Solitude) 3:50

9. Catharsis III (Evolve) 3:14

10. Catharsis IV (Doubt) 2:56

11. Catharsis V (The Malcontent) 3:30

12. Catharsis VI (Doubt) [Reprise] 1:49

13. Catharsis VII (Brainchild) 6:36

Added: October 3rd 2010

Reviewer: Pete Pardo

Score: ****