Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Ark - Burn The Sun (2001)

Genre: Progressive Metal
Format: FLAC + cue + log
Released: 2001
Label: Favored Nations Entertainment

01. Heal The Waters
02. Torn
03. Burn The Sun
04. Resurrection
05. Absolute Zero
06. Just A Little
07. Waking Hour
08. Noose
09. Feed The Fire
10. I Bleed
Missing You

Like all other metal fans, I have known disappointment and pain over the years when bands that I loved called it quits—be it because of internal disputes, lack of commercial success, or general fatigue. But a particularly tough loss came in 1998, when the Norwegian progressive/power outfit Conception disbanded after disagreeing with their label about the direction the band was taking. The backbone of Conception was their wonderfully emotive singer, Roy Khanatat, and their gifted, virtuoso guitarist, Tore Шstby. "Khan" quickly signed on with another prog act, Kamelot, and before long, I heard that Шstby had formed a new group by the name of Ark. The first time I heard Ark I was stunned. It was so progressive-minded, so different, so eclectic—the aural embodiment of a man trying to shake off the chains imposed on him by earlier record executives.

Ark's origin actually dates back to 1990, when a friendship was struck between TNT drummer John Macaluso and Шstby. Eight years later, when TNT was defunct and Conception was calling it quits, the two musicians decided the time was right for a musical collaboration. After auditioning a number of vocalists, the right man finally emerged in the form of Jorn Lande, singer of The Snakes. With a shared background in commercial hard rock (Шstby was coming off a brief gig with DC Cooper), the trio decided to venture out into uncharted creative territory. Ark's self titled debut was released in 1999 and met with considerable critical praise from journalists around the world.

2001's Burn The Sun sees the group rounding out its talented line-up with bassist Randy Coven (Steve Vai, Steve Morse) and keyboard player Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen). The new album is much more direct and businesslike than its predecessor, but retains a distinctly progressive flavor. How to describe the music? It is an intriguing mix of hard rock and metal which at times recalls bold 70s/80s acts like Rainbow, Whitesnake, and Blue Murder. But it goes further than these bands did by experimenting with tempos, metres, voices, effects, and styles. The result is a very unpredictable and enjoyable album.

On one hand we have heavy, crunching numbers like "Noose" and "Heal the Waters" with Lande roaring like a Coverdale-scorned. Then the group will bring things way down with a John Sykes-ian ballad such as "Missing You" or "Just a Little." An interlude in "Torn" brings strange babbling voices and cries that become a chorus of the absurd before another riff breaks. "Feed the Fire" has much of the feel of an 80s postmodern love song in the mold of The Tubes with its guitar/keyboard interplay and heart-on-the-sleeve lyrical content. Шstby is at his creative best throughout it all, trying his hand at flamenco guitar one minute and launching into Yngwie-esque scales the next.

Lyrically, Burn The Sun explores the relentless, collective destiny of mankind as a theme. Where is our "progress" leading us to? And what of the unrest and disturbance in the universal balance of our planet that is a natural result of man's machinations? The band themselves describe part of the idea behind the album's many themes: "When you think about it, you really can't burn the sun - still we all try every day of our lives, pushing to get ahead not taking notice of the people around us, on a course or mission leading to the unknown."

Burn The Sun is one of the more eclectic metal albums I have ever heard. And yet, the band manages to retain a sound that is uniquely their own in each individual track. While mankind might be unsure of what its energies will ultimately bring, it would appear that Tore Шstby and company suffer from no such existential confusion. Ark's shared destiny is firmly rooted in creative freedom and principled individualism.

Reviewed by: Ladd Everitt


ZTA said...

So thranx I search over days to find ark in flac

did said...


Anonymous said...

Could you re-upload both ark's records?