February 8, 2013 in Reviews
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
DGM is no secret in the power/prog world, but they have a reputation for being a bit inconsistent. Admittedly, my only real acquaintance with the band came with 2007’s Different Shapes, a very respectable work; but I haven’t kept up with the band since, nor dug into their prior work. I remember taking my time a bit getting to Momentum and throwing it in for the first time, not being particularly excited about what I figured would be a modestly good progressive power release amongst a tide of new titles.
How wrong was I? Where to begin…
Well, first up, Momentum is anything but a “modest” prog/power album. The explosion of riffing (and the roaring guest vocals of Russell Allen) that greets the listener’s ears during intro “Reason” is reminiscent of the sound exemplified by Pagan’s Mind on Heavenly Ecstasy. The rapid, hairpin-turning guitar acrobatics on display throughout the album courtesy of Simone Mularoni are in fact so similar at times to Jørn Viggo Lofstad’s style that, lo-and-freaking-behold, when the Norwegian riff prophet himself arrives later in the album during “Chaos”, you ALMOST miss it (but not quite) if you don’t have an attuned ear.
“Trust” is a scorcher as well, but let’s move onto “Universe” for the time being. Straight from the outset, it’s like the Epica-era bonus track that Kamelot never saw fit to write- only the guitar is more interesting, everything’s faster, and Khan is still back in Norway. “Numb” and “Pages” both continue the speedy, technical pace that has been the norm since the outset, with DGM finally deciding to dial the intensity back with “Repay”, a soft, piano-led piece that builds into a sweeping power ballad. As far as such songs go, I find it quite respectable, but probably the only song on the album that begs to be skipped to get back to the action (though I am confessedly a speed freak). “Chaos” picks things right back up, and includes the aforementioned guest appearance by Lofstad (I believe this to be the guitar solo at the 3:00 mark). Despite this excellent solo section, it’s one of the less remarkable songs on an album filled with standouts.
Now, though I’ve compared DGM’s guitar and rhythm work to Pagan’s Mind, a very strong second influence becomes abundantly clear during the last few tracks, and this one much closer to home. The choruses of “Remembrance”, “Overload”, and “Void”, all scream “VISION DIVINE” to me, most specifically the Michele Luppi-fronted incarnation of DGM’s progressive power countrymen. “Overload” in particular, with its instantly recognizable chorus hook and smooth clip of a verse, feels like it could have been stripped from The Perfect Machine (and indeed, despite my love for that album, I find this as good or better than much of Vision Divine’s material there). “Void” likewise boasts a tremendously clever pre-chorus, and a dreamy chorus worthy of comparison as well. Closer “Blame” is a bit less exhausting and, though an admirable tune in and of itself, if listened to sequentially it feels like a blissful downhill slide after the heights of euphoria before it.
And that’s how Momentum listens – carrying itself straight through to the end. The only detractors from this being a true masterwork are a couple of “very good” tracks that have the ironic effect of being skipped amongst the rest of the unadulterated prog/power joy on display. I must at this point call out vocalist Mark Basile for absolutely stellar vocals. This guy sounds like the love child of modern Michele Luppi (think Secret Sphere’s Portrait Of A Dying Heart) and Tommy Karevik circa Waiting In The Wings; featuring Luppi’s smoothness and Karevik’s love of melismatic, pop-worthy, and yet commanding tenor vocals. Yet he also boasts a signature sound all his own, particularly noticeable when he snarls out his sharper-edged lines. Despite everything else going on around him- the guitar and the remarkably tight and synchronous rhythm work- he’s really a show-stopper.
Momentum shouldn’t be ignored by anyone remotely interested in melodic prog, progressive power metal, and more than likely, power metal in general. This is a milestone for a band that seems to have been improving itself repeatedly with its last few releases, and I now consider them a burgeoning first-line band (in terms of pure talent, if not commercial success) along with the likes of Pagan’s Mind, Seventh Wonder, and Vision Divine. Though perhaps not as instantly gripping as some, Momentum builds itself up with each concurrent listen, and is a force to be reckoned with.
4.5 // 5