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Thought Chamber - Psykerion CD (album) cover

PSYKERION

Thought Chamber

 

Progressive Metal

3.95 | 101 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars "A cosmic storm beyond the norm"

I came across Thought Chamber because of the involvement of Ted Leonard and Bill Jenkins, vocalist and keyboard player respectively of the band Enchant, and this second album from the group entitled Psykerion simply blew me away! I cannot even remember if I have ever decided on a five star rating after such a small number of spins as for this stunningly brilliant album. Of course, I then confirmed my initial judgement with many further listens before writing this review and Psykerion is indeed a masterpiece. And it is a masterpiece not just of Prog Metal, but of progressive Rock in general. Songs like Light Year Time and Isle Of Bizen are pure Symphonic Prog with not much Metal about them at all, and Yes fans in particular are bound to be charmed by these wonderful songs.

The style of this album is an eclectic fusion of Prog Metal, Symphonic Prog, Neo-Classical Metal, and Jazz- Rock/Fusion. The musicianship is absolutely breathtaking throughout. The hour long album is brimming with good musical ideas presented to the listener in rapid succession with nothing ever outstaying its welcome. The twists and turns take the listener on a musical journey paraleing that of the travellers of the album's concept. The principal architect of the music is guitarist extraordinarie Michael Harris. On bass we have Jeff Plant and on drums Mike Haid. The performance of the entire band is extremely impressive and the aforementioned Bill Jenkins exerts himself far beyond what he did in Enchant while Leonard sings as well as ever but differently than in Enchant. Any comparisons between the music of Thought Chamber and that of Enchant are largely misplaced (though the track Breath Of Life sounds a bit like Enchant).

I can detect influences here from Yes, Dream Theater, Rick Wakeman, Symphony X, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Return To Forever, Al Di Meola, UK, and others. But these guys have more fun than any of these bands (well, except Wakeman maybe). Some of the aspects of the album concept and the somewhat odd song titles are examples of that. There are humorous overtones here, but there is also a more serious side. Indeed, I find the mixture of different moods, from joyous to melancholic and from witty to profound, sometimes within the same song, brilliant and reminiscent of Queen's A Night At The Opera.

In the title track (subtitled "The Question") the album's concept, which revolves around a quest "to reach Psykerion - this land beyond the sun", begins to unfold. Who the travellers are exactly and why they want to reach Psykerion remains alluringly obscure throughout, or as the lyrics has it: "The question remains...". A bit further on, we learn that the ships they are travelling on are called the Kerakryps and O.D.D. is the name of their navigating computer. As I understand it, the travellers visit various places along their journey including a visit to a "gentle giant" called Ikk! (This reminds vaguely of the part in Rick Wakeman's Journey To The Centre Of The Earth when the travellers of that story come across a primeval sheperd). Beyond these somewhat silly details of the story, there is thankfully a lot of room left for the listener's own imagination which I have always found is an attractive feature of an album concept. My own personal interpretation is that "Psykerion" stands for the unknown and "the quest" symbolizes humanity's eternal struggle to expand the frontiers of the known. For example, from the track Trancend: "Knowledge is an everlasting seed" and "we push the envelope until we surpass".

In sum, this music is mindbogglingly good and is the best music I have discovered in a very long time. Once it ends one wants to start it all over again. Unless they are allergic to any Metal elements this album is very highly recommended to all progressive Rock fans.

SouthSideoftheSky | 5/5 |

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