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What’s the 4-1-1?
The debut release from the Swiss melodic metal group culminates the first step of a journey that began in 1992.

Progressive metal / symphonic metal

The Good
As a fan of the progressive/symphonic metal sound, I was very happy to listen to the music the band created for this album. The opening instrumental “An Introduction To…” was a great way to start off the CD. As I listened to the track, I could almost see this tune being played over the introductory credits of a medieval themed movie. The song “What A Felony” has a nice sounding musical track. The lyrics moved the song towards an anti-drug sentiment, at least to my eyes and ears. The band sure has it down when it comes to crafting the musical portion of the songs. The guitars are excellent.
There’s a superb guitar line at the end of the song “Tonite.” In a lot of bands that feature keyboards heavily, there is a tendency to let those keyboards overwhelm the band’s sound. This isn’t the case here. The keyboard influence is strong but it rarely distracts from the music, it only serves as an enhancement. I liked the use of the male/female counterpoint vocals on the songs. It’s not exactly a new thing to have both a male and female singer, I thought Andrea Richner’s vocals served to balance out Andreas Wildi’s leads. The band really put all their positives together for the song “My Way.” It’s got a great guitar riff, and the song simply kills!

The Bad
I found that I spent more time having an inner dialogue with myself about how Andreas Wildi was delivering his vocals rather than simply enjoying the songs. There were more than a few instances where the emphasis was placed on the wrong syllable. I felt he was struggling far too much with the English lyrics than someone being on the forefront of the band should be. While I enjoyed just about the entire musical package, I found the vocals wanting just a bit. The lyrics were also a problem. One of the cardinal sins in progressive metal is crossing the line into pompous territory. Felony commits that crime here. The lyrics in three songs (“What A Felony,” “Freedom”, and “Cyberspace”) seem to reflect a social conscience bent from lyricists Markus Geiger and Thomas Brogli. Unfortunately, in their seeming quest for hard-hitting lyrics, they use the equivalent of a wrecking ball to pound in a single nail. As I listened to those particular songs, I thought it came off as rather pompous and pedantic sounding.

The Verdict
I wish that I could provide separate grades for the music and the vocals. I don’t have a problem with the technical aspects of the vocals, but what the two vocalists are saying leave something to be desired. The music is pretty darn good throughout the album, I’d be interested in hearing more from the band, but I’d hope that they could find a way to come up with a better batch of lyrics next time out.

Did You Know?
The woman who provided some lead and backing vocals to this album, Andrea Richner, has now been added to the group as a full member.
Sascha Paeth, who produced First Works, had worked with other noted bands like Edguy, Rhapsody, Epica, and Kamelot.