Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 52:06
Review by Simon Black
The sophomore album from this Power / Prog quartet is a very interesting beast. So many acts have been impacted by lockdown, but writing and producing an album when your singer is in Brazil, your guitarist / keyboardist is in Las Vegas, your bassist in Texas and you are still running in a new drummer who is up in Canada is no mean feat. …And just to make sure we get the point, there is a single available now all about it, called surprisingly ‘Lockdown’! Let’s think about the process behind creating that for a moment. Prog in particular is all about the ability of the instrumentalist to riff off of each other, to take that improvisation, capture it and structure it in a repeatable way whilst still sounding fresh each and every time it is played. “Psychosomatic” does this with considerable finesse.
Perhaps the most considerable musical Prog feat in here are Gabriel Guardian’s twin roles on guitar and keyboards. I wasn’t not sure how this would work in reality live, as last time I checked in order to shred your audience a new asshole with a guitar on stage, you needed to use both hands. A quick check on Youtube proved that this is in fact exactly what he is doing and it is little short of incredible to watch. Given that the interplay between keyboards and guitar is about continuous use of harmonies he mostly has to switch between the two, but most of these songs are pretty darn fast and that’s no mean feat to pull off onstage (particularly for the frenetic and quite sublime ‘Goodbye To Farewells’, where the kind of musical interplay you might expect from the likes of Dream Theater is on display). …And shred he does, and pretty damned well to boot, with tracks like ‘Phobia’ that would give the great Joe Satch a run for his money. I’m also going to call out Carlos Zema’s vocals, as the range this guy has on him is quite impressive. When clean, the notes are long, high and loud, there’s gutsy rough’n’ready, a bit of screaming and the odd death grunt in the mix, often scaling between these within the same song and somehow not sounding out of place.
What is refreshing about the Power Metal aspects of this album is that it does not fall into the bear trap of clichés that many European peers do of death by historical or mythically themed concept albums and a highly predictable song structure. Although there is a theme in here, as the band apparently completely scrapped the album they had already started writing in favour of this collection of songs about their experiences in the pandemic. That takes confidence and guts. However, each of the songs on here stands well on its own merits and whilst clearly having a house band sound, does this without sounding repetitive or formulaic. Each song has a clear and distinct song writing structure to it, new techniques, structures and effects creep in with each song but at the same time it’s clearly one album. I am tempted to adopt the moniker ‘Super Metal’ bestowed upon them by their fans just this once as they really are in a class of their own.
This may be their second professional release, but these guys were apparently quite prolific before being signed and the musicianship on here is absolutely top notch. Like most Prog artists they know how a good sound can be achieved technically, although apart from a few solo moments the keyboards do stand a bit further back in the mix, largely generating atmosphere rather than carrying the melody. It still is worth noting that as well as writing remotely, the band members all learned how to record remotely (no mean feat when they all have different digital workstations), producing a project that then gets sent to a Producer to mix down. It certainly does not sound like they were learning on this job. So, do yourself a favour and give this a spin, because it really is a magnificent achievement.
02. Read Between The Lines
07. Goodbye To Farewells
09. Find A Reason
10. New Day Rising
Gabriel Guardian – Guitars/Keyboards
Carlos Zema – Vocals
Justin Piedimonte – Drums
Joshua Lopez – Bass
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