Rock Company 2017
Fantasy-styled rock opera that fascinates without fulfilling its no-frills prophesy.
Unicorns and dragons are most captivating creatures, ethereal and muscular at the same time, that, when projected onto musical canvas, can lend themselves to new-age and power metal in equal measure. This story, masterminded by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Koos J. Thönissen, must be irresistible if turned into a book, yet it struggles to maintain the momentum as an album, let alone a double one, although the ambition on display is admirable.
Mixing spoken word and songs, “Pandor” will initially tread a thin line between airy atmosphere and aggressive assault, until bare riffs take over and bury melodious plot under needless heaviness. While there’s sensual synthesizer shimmer and piano-paved depth to “Aenoor” whose impressive landscape isn’t limited by a 3-minute mark, epic belligerence behind the arresting Eastern pattern of “Meteor Impact” seems too massive to endure, despite the storyline’s demands – what with “Ael Hathor” clearly referencing a certain führer. As a result, when harmony vocals get trampled under ear-splitting growl, the listeners are bound to be divided, prog lovers falling by the wayside and headbangers not flocking in to feast on a rhythmic carcass. Similarly, whereas the romantic rise of “Glynyd” is one of the record’s highlights, edgy guitar cutting through the ivories’ gloss, “Certamen Ultimus” has to acquiesce its six-string orchestral intent to raw roar.
With “The Meeting” embracing the theatrical aspect of thrash, gentle balladry drives “Pandor’s Adoption” to the finely textured delivery of truly operatic scope, and “Tayla’s Mission” gracefully bridges such approaches thanks the help of guest singers. In the absence of extremes, variety could save the day here; as it is, the project’s nature is cryptic indeed.