Redemption – The Fullness of Time – 5/5
A common complaint often levelled against prog/power metal is that it is soulless hyper-technical masturbation that sounds like a Dream Theater clone. Fans have probably had such insults flung at themselves for quite some time, but here they are given another album to prove the nay-sayers wrong. Redemption's "The Fullness of Time" is one of the most well-executed and emotional journeys into this side of the world of melodic progressive metal.
The style of Redemption on this album is straight-up prog right from the first track, with subtle notes of the legends that came before them, don't run away quite yet, as a clone of any of these bands Redemption is not. This album feels as metallic as that dusty old thrash record, technical, but still with plenty of bite. From the thrashy opening salvo of riffs from "Threads," the technical, brooding verse in "Scarred", to the sombre Dream Theater-inspired chorus leads of "Parker's Eyes" and the escalating metallic tension of "Sapphire." The guitars have a surprisingly vicious tone when the palm-mutes start chugging, and a wide, clean sound for more technical leads and solos – perhaps being a bit too repressed at times – but is sharp and clear when it needs to be, constantly providing varied and hard-hitting tones.
But Redemption are not a band that relies solely on a savage axe attack; the rest of the band is in tip-top shape. Drum-work is nuanced and provides a colorful framework for the guitars. Following the flow of the song, it can add an extra ‘amplifying punch’ to the atmosphere, with plenty of tasty fills and rolls that keep what would already be very stellar guitar and keyboard work more jumpy and energetic feeling. The keyboards have a significant role, but you won't really notice them now and then. Not because they were an afterthought, but because they are intricately woven into the track, sometimes acting as a ‘third guitar,’ with keyboard leads taking a noticeable spotlight, or alongside the guitar, and at other times, intersecting and playing off one another perfectly. And yet, it's those times when you don't really notice the keyboards when you have it on as background music that display the band's incredible grasp of atmosphere, capable of accenting the mood like a powerful, single-minded string section enhancing raw emotionally gripping part of this musical journey.
Bass-work is sufficient, following the guitars, throwing in its share of licks and little tricks but it is the vocals that truly steal the show. A powerful blend of Russel Allen (Symphony X), the late Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery) and even the very hit-or-miss James Labrie (Dream Theater), the end result is something beyond all of these three, providing a genuine feel of desperation, loss, triumph and all sorts of powerful emotions. From the rising, electrifying crescendos of "Sapphire," the bitter sadness of "Parker's Eyes," to the sense of fleeting from the inevitable contained in "Scarred," they can at times feel overwhelming, creating as much atmosphere as an entire orchestra.
Good song-writing goes well with stellar musicianship. In this case, well, there are basically no bad songs. Each one is a very distinct entity, and even strong similarities never cause any two songs to seem too similar to one another, all the way from the epic “Fullness of Time,” (telling the story of a broken man who confronts his despair and bitterness, enters the depths of depression, yet finds the strength to defeat his demons and find his own redemption) to the romantic “Sapphire.”
Soulful, emotive delivery? Check. Incredible songwriting? Check. Very well thought-out and executed musicianship? Check. One of the very best prog/power metal albums ever? Yeah, check that too. Doesn't matter if you like progressive or power more, you will love this. Fans new to the genre and hardened veterans will be spinning this classic for quite some time. It does everything right and goes above and beyond the call of duty, disproving the accusations flung at this misunderstood genre wrong with marginal effort. This stands as one of metal's most emotionally gripping triumphs.