Andromeda – Manifest Tyranny (Second Opinion)
I’ve decided to finally write my own review for what I can already tell will be a very dividing album. It also happens to be the main subject of a sequence of events that led to me discovering a new favorite band. Obviously by now most have seen Dagg’s review of this latest Anromeda album, Manifest Tyranny. Well, I had never even heard of the band Andromeda, when I saw him asking whether or not the review should be posted due to extreme level of negativity. Of course, he still did post it, and after reading it I decided I immediately needed to hear this album for myself, because something that can cause such a strong reaction is bound to be interesting.
In advance of this, I ended up checking out their debut Extension Of The Wish, just to get a feel for the band. That album was a masterpiece, but I prepared myself for the worst as I had heard of the band being on a downward trend ever since, with one of my friends who I discovered to be a huge fan of the band even giving lower ratings for each successive album, which made it easy to believe this album could be the disaster I had read about.
Thankfully, I had the chance to hear the album shortly after I heard the debut, so I wasted little time in checking it out, to see where the band had gone since their debut. By the end of “Preemptive Strike”, I was already hooked. Right from the start the band engages the listener with an intense assault on the ears, with excellent violent sounding riffs, and an overall angry feel to their modern take on progmetal. But they don’t just rely on that, as everything is nicely layered, the keyboard work is just as impressive the guitar sound, and the song is fairly complex considering it’s just over two and a half minutes. Equally as impressive as all of that is the vocal work of David Fremberg, who really gets into the emotion of the lyrics, delivering them as much as an actor than as a singer.
The concept of the album will obviously annoy some people, as to call it anti-political is definitely an understatement (though it attacks the media just as much). But unlike some bands who have done this terribly (Pain of Salvation in particular with the beyond terrible Scarsick), Andromeda does a great job of it and it rarely feels like they’re merely using their music just as a platform to deliver a message. The big thing for me is David Fremberg, because with how sorrowful he sounds at various points throughout the album, along with the overall mellow tone of a few songs (especially “Survival of the Richest” “Chosen By God” and “Asylum”) it becomes obvious that the band actually cares about the world, they just realize it’s really screwed up. They do add in a lot of voice clips, and while this initially bugged me, after I had gone through the album enough times I realized that most of the time they have a purpose, and in general they aren’t a problem for me. The use of these clips on the aforementioned “Chosen By God” is very effective, and that combined with the awesome chorus and overall feel make the song one of my very favorites. The only complaint I have in this area is that the voices are rather excessive on “False Flag”, making that easily the worst song on the album. They really do take up too much space and prevent the song from being what it could be, and this is the only part of the album where the band does go a bit too far, so I can understand people not liking it.
Musically the album is excellent, and quite varied. There are some great melodies, some explosive riffs, excellent solos, and plenty of surprises throughout. The overall sound isn’t the typical “wanky” style of something like Dream Theater. Instead, it’s a much more modern sounding offbeat style, where the riffs make up the core of the songs, but there are plenty of softer sections mixed in. “Lies R Us” has an incredible chorus that will stick with me forever. Actually, that entire song is just fantastic and my favorite song here. Even though it’s the weakest of the album, “False Flag” is still excellent aside from the voice clips. “Play Dead” is simply the most intense song here aside from the opener, and is an absolute classic, while the chorus of “Stay Unaware” is probably the closest the album comes to being traditional Progressive Metal, and the song has some excellent melodies, along with the usual strong musicianship. As on the debut, the band does some very technically impressive things throughout, but their songs are always much more than just showcases of their ability, as every song here is immediately recognizable, memorable in its own way, and each has its own specific purpose.
Some may be turned off by the heavy sections (though really, I’d say at least half of the album falls on the softer side), and some may be turned off by the overall concept, but one minor annoyance aside, I can enjoy this album for being a very interesting and very effective take on one of my favorite genres. So if you ask me, any rumors of Andromeda being on a decline are false.
Travis Green’s Rating: 4.75 out of 5