First of all, will you just check out that amazing cover art on Obsidian Desert? Kind of reminds you of an old Marillion, Dream Theater, or Magnum album cover doesn’t it? Well, the music here is equally as impressive. Armed Cloud hail from the Netherlands, and this is their debut album, produced by Christian Moos (Delain, Haken) and mastered by the one and only Eroc. The band play a highly energetic form of progressive metal mixed with a dose of catchy melodic rock, and their singer Daan Dekker has a tone not too far removed from modern day Geddy Lee of Rush. So, if you love recent Rush, as well as Haken, Kamelot, IQ, Dream Theater, Circus Maximus, or even Symphony X, I think chances are you’ll get a lot of mileage out of Obsidian Desert.
“Wounded Healer” really is a great example of of what these guys are all about, as catchy vocal melodies soar over beds of symphonic keyboards and chugging riffs, while “Jealousy with a Halo” sees the more aggressive side of the band come to the forefront, with Dekker taking on a more menacing tone and the guitar riffs of Wouter van der Veen crunching along nicely. Even when the band is churning out an emotional ballad, like “Meltdown”, the results are quite impressive, with Dekker really digging deep and singing from his very soul. Those who like the heavier end of the prog-metal spectrum will no doubt enjoy the monstrous “My Own Kind”, with its complex riffs, intricate rhythms, and ominous keyboard textures, while both “Pyramid of Charlatans” and “In Your Mind” throw in some speedy power metal styled rhythms underneath soaring vocals and insistent riff-o-rama. Album closer “Wasted?” is the longest song at just over 8-minutes, and it’s a wonderful slice of symphonic progressive metal, filled with lush atmospheric sections, majestic grandeur, as well as powerful metal muscle. It’s a song that allows the full band to shine and show their talents, a must hear for any fan of vintage Rush, Dream Theater, or Fates Warning.
The bands label, Maxxive Records, are brand new and without a doubt have a potential star act on their hands. Progressive metal fans will need to investigate this one as soon as possible.