Artension

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Into The Eye Of The Storm

Artension - Into The Eye Of The Storm ©1996 Shrapnel
1. World Of Illusion
2. Into The Eye Of The Storm
3. Smoke And Fire
4. The Wind And The Rain
5. Lost Memory
6. The Key
7. Song Of The Desert
8. Red's Recovery
9. Let It Ride
10. I Don't Care

Artension are built around the talents of Vitalij Kuprij on the piano and keys and John West's vocals. Vitalij released a solo album in 1997 called High Definition. John West recently signed as the new lead vocalist for Royal Hunt and has a solo album or two under his belt. Other band members include drummer Mike Terrana who has appeared on at least two Yngwie Malmsteen CDs, I Can't Wait and Seventh Sign, bassist, Kevin Chown who appears on Tiles' Fence The Clear and Magnitude 9's Chaos To Control CDs. Suffice to say this band has talent and to spare. Therefore, you might expect Eye of the Storm to blow you away with stellar performances left and right. Well, the CD certainly huffs and it puffs, but it fails to blow the house down. On the one hand, the keys, the singing, the guitars, the musicianship is outstanding. What is lacking is a cohesive feel. Some of the songs feel like little more than a vehicle for a blistering solo. Yes, those solos are very good, but the songs as a whole suffer from a contrived feel. Combine that with the production quality not being as good as it could have been and you'll find that this is not the best effort from this group.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 05/2000

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Phoenix Rising

Artension - Phoenix Rising ©1997 Shrapnel
1. Area 51
2. Through The Gate
3. Valley Of The Kings
4. Blood Brother
5. Into The Blue
6. Phoenix Rising
7. Forbidden Love
8. The City Is Lost
9. Goin' Home
10. I Really Don't Care

I have to wonder at the title of the last track. Is this Vitalij's continuation of the last track from Eye of the Storm, or is it in response to the critic's view of Artension's first disc? This disc almost makes up for the disappointment of the first release. Almost. Again we have sweeping solos, soaring vocals, dueling keys and guitars. What we don't have is the depth these guys could go to if they would only push the envelope. Their talent is inarguable. This is a great collection of wonderful musicians. The performance can't be knocked. But the songs continue to be great vocal bit, keyboard solo, vocal bit, guitar solo, vocal bit, ad nauseam. If only all the bits could come together, the orchestration and mix could be phenomenal. Sadly, the bane of "showcase" metal bands seems to be the very talent that should make them outstanding. Rather than incorporate all that talent into a richly woven tapestry of music, the groups showcases the talent with solo upon solo to the detriment of the total picture. The end result is that the immense talent suffers as all vie for supremacy rather than cooperating to produce something grand.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 05/2000

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Forces Of Nature

Artension - Forces Of Nature ©1999 Shrapnel
1. The Forces Of Nature
2. Ride Like The Wind
3. Behind Your Eyes
4. The Truth
5. Tall Ships
6. Shape Shifter
7. Wild Trip
8. Guardians Of The Hunt
9. Lost Horizon
10. You Are My Heart (Ode To Autumn)

This release from Artension sees a change in personnel. John Onder replaces Kevin Chown on bass and Shane Gaalaas is in for Mike Terrana on drums. I don't know if it is the change of personnel or that all the "easy" songs have been written, but there is a definite shift forward with the release of this CD. John West's vocals continue to be outstanding as does Vitalij's keyboarding. There is also still a lot of "my turn" soloing, but the music is tighter and fits together much better than on the first two releases. There is some great interweaving of the guitars and keys. Perhaps this comes from the experimentation that Vitalij did on his solo CD? Whatever the cause, this CD is several steps forward for Artension. Sadly, it appears that this is also the final release from the group. Just when they were beginning to meld and function as a unit, they appear to have dispersed. John West has gone to Royal Hunt, and there does not appear to be anything looming on the horizon for the rest of the group. Considering the pool of talent in this group, it is truly a pity. "Tall Ships" is one of the standout tracks on the CD. There is emotion in the singing, wonderful piano playing, and the groups moves together to produce a great power ballad. If you were to have only one Artension CD, this would be the disc of choice.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 05/2000

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