Project Arcadia "A Time of Changes"
- Product Review (submitted on September 22, 2014):
- Wow! This is one of the best albums I have come across in a very long time. Believe me, I am picky and don’t say that without having thought about it for some time. Though I have to admit whenever a singer called Urban breed is involved chances are quite high that I love it, this man never ceases to surprise me. This album is even better than Shades of Art from Trail of Murder, his last release.
There are only a handful of albums that get 10 out of 10 points in my book. What it makes so perfect for my taste in music?
- It’s heavy and slightly progressive, even some hard rock in it,
- with tons of great melodies,
- superb songwriting,
- phenomenal, emotional vocals,
- a lot of variety,
- more than capable musicians on ALL instruments,
- great lyrics (songs 1 to 8 are somewhat connected with the lyrical theme of life),
- and a nice and bizarre album cover (and booklet);
The perfect blend for me!
Granted, if you are searching for a highly innovative band or need some super-fast and tricky instrumental stuff, you might be wrong here. But if you like well-crafted and well-played metal songs with great riffs and melodic guitar solos along with some catchy (not cheesy) vocal melodies to even sing along to you are in for a real treat here.
Alright, here is a track by track review:
1. Here To Learn: 10/10. What an opener, a perfect metal song. Fast paced, to the point, some nice breaks and short stops, just listen to the intro and the start of the solo. Urban really shines here and the guitar solo even lifts it up to another level. And also the lyrics about being (re-)born are interesting.
2. Shelter Me: 9/10. This song is quite similar, also high quality but not as good the opener. The chorus is the only weaker part to me. The great melodies (intro, pre-chorus…) and the solo make up for it though easily.
3. I Am Alive: 10/10. A slow, but powerful song, only the bridge to the solo is faster. Beautiful melodies (the last choruses!), great backing vocals.
4. Beggars At The Door: 10/10. This song is somewhat similar to the first two ones. Check out the superior guitar work, the chorus and the soft middle eight here.
5. The Ungrateful Child: 10/10. Speaking about lack of variety by now? Here is an acoustic song that sets a nice contrast. And this is no boring ballad in the common sense, but a nicely paced song, only reduced to the important parts. No backing vocals here and just the guitars supported by bass and drums. This song is about losing a beloved one; I get goose bumps every time I listen to it. An outstanding song!
6. Timeless: 10/10. Oh, I love odd time signatures, as long as they support the song and are not done for the sake of being progressive. After a heavier intro, the verses are much lighter with nice backing vocals. The pre-chorus gets heavier again and leads to a short but great chorus.
7. Joy: A short instrumental with nice guitar work.
8. A Time Of Changes: 10/10. Probably the hidden gem here. Not as catchy as the other songs, but it has such timeless beautiful melodies. Just listen to the last chorus where Urban is holding the last word (life) of the prior one throughout this entire chorus. And then this crazy final break(down).
9. Formidable Foe: 10/10. Probably the catchiest song on the album, great melodies and a powerful drumming throughout. Amazing from start to finish, especially the verses (Urban sings quite gloomy and ominous here) and the ending stand out.
10. The Deal: 8/10. Quite a contrast to the other songs, it needed a few spins to grow on me. It doesn’t have that certain something that stands out, it is “just” a good song.
11. Shadows Of The Night: 9/10. Starting with the first verse (that features a nice guitar melody supported by a superb bass line) right away. The rest of the song is heavier, almost has the feel of a power ballad, though the emphasis is on power here. Catchy melodies and backing vocals make this song a worthy finale of a most impressive album.
As I said, this is the perfect blend for me. I already read some other reviews that all gave 8/10 or 9/10, so just add 1 more point for hitting exactly what I like most and there you are. Urban is really setting the bar higher with every new album, so let’s hope that it continues that way. Though there are no more than 10 points, right?
Killer tracks: Here To Learn, The Ungrateful Child and then all the others…
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