In case you weren’t familiar with the two names on the cover, Victor Arduini played guitar on the first two Fates Warning LPs, while Brian Balich is known to doomsters as the former voice of Penance and current voice of Argus, one of the leading purveyors of power-doom these days. This collaborative effort has been compared to Cruz del Sur labelmates Atlantean Kodex and While Heaven Wept, placing it firmly at the forefront of the progressive doom subgenre.
The six tracks on this platter are nearly 65 minutes long, giving Atlantean Kodex a run for their Deutsche Marks in that department. “The Fallen” eases us in slowly, starting off with an extended guitar intro before adopting a downtrodden tempo, with soaring, melodic guitar riffs. We’re almost four minutes in before the first real riff comes in, with the vocals following not long after… and it’s a doozy, eventually picking up the pace to a mid-tempo gallop around the seven-minute mark. I’d put this one up there with some of Argus’ most epic numbers (“Devils, Devils,” “Durendal” et al).
“Forever Fade” gets into the doom ‘n gloom right from the get go, with an immediately headbangable mid-paced Sabbath riff behind a soaring guitar lead. Speaking of Sabbath, the intro riff of “Into Exile” recalls “Into the Void,” though this tune takes a slightly different turn during its 12-minute runtime, with a few winding riffs and proggier passages. The guitar solo on this one makes me wanna slay dragons or something.
“The Wraith” is even longer, coming in at a shade over 14 minutes. This one has some pretty epic doomy riffage, coming off as a cross between the likes of Candlemass, Atlantean Kodex (at its slowest) and Argus, with a touch of the horror-soundtrack stylings of Blizaro, eventually pushing the tempos as it heads toward the 10-minute mark. But even that one pales in comparison to the 18-minute, ne plus epic “Beyond the Barricade” (!!!)
The double LP vinyl version includes competent covers of Uriah Heep (“Sunrise”), Black Sabbath (“After All [The Dead]”) and semi-obscure sixties psych rockers The Beau Brummels—admittedly, I had to look that last one up. If you’ve got a full 80 minutes to spare, then you might as well flip it over to Side D.