Illusion Suite – The Iron Cemetery
Reviewed by Arno Callens
38 minutes. Ever since Final Hour I’ve been ever so curious what Illusion Suite would do next. Digging through promos for months I finally stumbled upon The Iron Cemetery and proceeded to further deprive myself from sleep and listen to it at four in the morning. After all, it’s only 38 minutes long. Or rather, short. “Replay value”, “better too short than too long”, blah blah, I know, it’s just not what I expected.
Luckily this album is a blast from start to finish. “Unnecessary Intro” segues into the mythological romp of “Orpheus’ Quest”, filled with that spirited sense of adventure and bittersweet melancholy that both Illusion Suite and Greek stories alike are known for. As the astral “Uni-Twins” and melodic monster hit “The Iron Cemetry” go by, you notice that the songwriting is much more tight. Gone are the ten minute epics, and it’s the catchy tracks in the vein of “The Devil In Your Heart” and “A Ghost From The Past” that remain. My antipathy for long-winded wankery is not complaining, even though these Norwegians were better at it than most.
Other highlights include the pseudo ballad “When Love Falls” and the ultra infectious “Nostradamus’ First Prophecy”. Some songs like “Nero” and “The Ugly Duckling” take more time to sink in, especially since the latter is rather experimental. The most ambitious song comes in the form of “Premonition”, which takes the melodies to a surprisingly refreshing place.
Despite the more streamlined approach, Illusion Suite never surrenders their intricacy, knack for otherworldly melodies, and excellent vocals. In fact, Bill Macatowicz’ voice has only improved since the debut. Special mention goes to the keyboards which are so tastefully spread throughout the music, I wish more bands would strike this balance.
Classical lyricism will always win with me, so I’m rather fond of some of the subject matter here. From Orpheus and Eurydice to Roman emperors and outer space, Illusion Suite weaves it together seamlessly. In this respect the album’s energy reminds me of Pagan’s Mind’s Heavenly Ecstasy, which by now should be the standard for spacey power/prog.
Really, with this much punch and so little running time, there’s very little else to say or do except hit the repeat button. Illusion Suite may have released more of an extended EP than a full album, but with this level of quality it’s hardly a reason for scolding. The fact that I want more should say it all.
4.25 // 5