After almost no activity for over a month, I’m on a roll again and so today, I bring to you my latest musical recommendation as part of my ‘Unknown & Underrated’ series (links to the others can be found below). The spotlight once again falls on the progressive metal genre but I make no apologies for this because, as I see it, this is one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated genres of heavy music around. Not only that but it is one of those genres that seems to shy away from the spotlight somewhat – the music may be over the top and ostentatious, but away from their instruments, prog musicians seem to be some of the most humble and unassuming people you are ever likely to meet. It is yet another great reason for liking this fabulous genre.
My choice of band today is exactly one of those bands that have the talent to make you green with envy but never seem to shout about it. To whom an I referring? Redemption.
Redemption were formed around the turn of the millennium by guitarist and song writer Nick van Dyk. The original incarnation of the band saw the involvement of members of such luminaries as Symphony X but it is safe to say that, at the present, the line-up is the strongest of their career to date. Featuring van Dyk himself and Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel) on guitar, Sean Andrews on bass, Chris Quirarte on the drums, keyboardist Greg Hosharian and the irrepressible Ray Alder (Fates Warning) behind the microphone, Redemption are a pretty formidable unit on paper. On record, it sounds even better than you might dare to think!
In the thirteen years since their inception, Redemption have released five albums, all of which are cracking in their own right. The early efforts maintained a focus on technicality and complexity and so if I’m honest, they are harder to get into and offer less in the way of immediacy. Nevertheless, many long-term fans remain convinced that 2005’s “The Fullness Of Time” is Redemption’s finest moment.
Personally however, I have taken the trio of 2007’s “The Origins Of Ruin”, 2009’s “Snowfall On Judgement Day” and 2011’s “This Mortal Coil” to my heart and listen to them all of a frighteningly regular basis.
As with the majority of bands within the prog metal genre, Redemption do indulge in a level of technicality and complexity that can boggle the mind and put hobby musicians like many of us to shame. The compositions across the entire back catalogue feature quirky time signatures, vast changes of pace and direction, extended solos and virtuosic playing from all quarters.
Fans of other metal though, wake up and take note at this point: the general fare is also a lot heavier and more intense than you would normally expect from a band within this genre. Songs contain plenty of chops, meaty riffs and a pounding rhythm section but much of the material, especially on the latest album, rips past at an impressive pace. There are times when I am reminded of bands like Nevermore or even some of the thrash greats, such is the power and aggression on display.
However, that being said, there is one main ingredient over and above the stellar musicianship and heaviness that makes Redemption special in my eyes and in the eyes of others. That ingredient is emotion.
Nick van Dyk has not had an easy life to put it mildly. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with blood cancer and was told he had five years to live. Miraculously he seems to have beaten the disease but, when coupled with the fact that his daughter, Parker, has been diagnosed with a debilitating eye condition that will affect her sight for the rest of her life, it is remarkable and is testament to the determination and drive of van Dyk that Redemption continues to be an active band.
These events have, however, meant that Redemption’s music is absolutely dripping with atmosphere and a wonderful emotional depth. Tracks like “Keep Breathing” (written about van Dyk’s daughter) or the lyrics to “No Tickets To The Funeral” can at times bring a tear to the eye to the even the most hardened and cynical of metal fan.
The other big ingredient which adds to the emotion is the vocal performance from Ray Alder. The vocalist joined Redemption in 2005 and, as fans of his other band, Fates Warning will happily testify, Alder has a unique voice. To Redemption, he brings power, range and an emotional fragility that suits the heavy lyrics beautifully.
As always with these posts, I could go on forever, but I won’t. Hopefully, I have done enough to at worst, pique your interest and at best, convert you into a fan of this fantastic but vastly underrated band.
Check out the other posts in this series here: