Various Artists - _A Gathering..._
(FaceFront, 1995)
by: Brian Meloon (6 out of 10)
The complete title is _A Gathering... of 8 Norwegian Prog. Metal Bands_. It's a two-CD compilation of Norwegian bands who the liner notes claim "in some way can be related to progressive or technical metal." Each band gets two songs, clocking in between 10 and 16 minutes, with a total running time of over 90 minutes. The first disc is much better than the second, but the whole set is the same price as a single CD, so what the heck... Spiral Architect start things off with the two best songs on the disc, which are also on their 1995 demo (see review in CoC #9). Nothing more needs to be said about them, other than that with Spastic Ink (see review this issue), they are IMO the world's premiere prog metal bands (and they're both unsigned). Manitou also appear on disc one, with "Entrance", the title track from their 1995 debut album, and "Desert Storms", an unreleased (and their last) track. They remind me of Fates Warning (circa _Parallels_, but not nearly as commercial). Trivial Act and Tritonus round out disc I, and both are Dream Theater clones. They show some potential, displaying some good musicianship, and some neat ideas occasionally, but mostly are too commercial, and their songwriting is inconsistent and choppy. Disc II starts off with the worst band on here, Winterland, who are generic, cheesy commercial metal/hard rock. Heartless and Sagittarius follow with their similar brands of commercial metal. Both are average, having at least a couple decent sections, but really don't do anything interesting. The singer for Sagittarius is weak, though. Finishing off Disc II are Minas Tirith (see review this issue), who really aren't progressive metal in the traditional sense. Their sound at least adds a little diversity to this compilation though. All told, this is a worthy comp for prog metal fans to have, especially if you don't mind commercialized metal.

(article published 10/5/1996)

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