Changes Part I: The Betrayed
Belgium heavy metal band Soundchaser‘s sophomore full length effort, Changes Part I: The Betrayed got me rather intrigued, with the album broken down into four main acts, yet at the same time the rather weird, short track titles on the album left me not expecting too much, with titles like Is Lost, Is Gone, to name a few.
Yet what the band has put on their sophomore left me rather surprised, and what the band presents on Changes Part I is some good quality heavy metal, with a touch of a whole range of different genres being included to make this album a unique listening experience. Opening Act, The Bandage Fall, which includes the first four tracks on the album, gives a nice introduction to the musical style of Soundchaser – melodic, yet powerful and extremely catchy.
The influences from classic acts like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are obvious right from the start, but what is extremely refreshing and rather surprising are the German influences. These are undeniable, and throughout the album, one is reminded of such bands as Helloween or Gamma Ray, from the riffs and leads of Marcos to the double bass-pedal fuelled drumming of Jon. Marcos’ vocals even reminds one of Rage‘s Peter Wagner, further strengthening that Teutonic references. The power metal moments like on Is Gone even remind one of bands like Kamelot.
With the number of concept albums released over the years, few have actually made much sense to me (at least musically), but Soundchaser excels in this aspect. The band has divided their album into four main acts, and simply listening to the musical style throughout the album, one can immediately discern the change in mood and atmosphere with the transition of one act to another. For instance, the drop in the mood and energy level from Act I (The Bandage Fall) to Act II (The Sadness Among the Truth) is drastic, with Empty, a piano piece introducing one to the next section on the programme. Fall follows Empty, and is a nice depressive, doomish track, reminding one of the later works of Katatonia and the likes, though there are moments on the act with a somewhat gothic/doom vibe, with the death growls bringing about some Draconian comparisons.
Act III, The Circus, sees Soundchaser bringing the energy level up again, and this time there is a slight thrashy edge in the band’s playing, once again showing the band’s Teutonic influences with the Destruction-inspired riffs of Marcos. There are even moments where the band includes some rather progressive elements in their playing, reminding one of the heavier and more aggressive material of Dream Theater. The album finally ends with Act IV, The Rescue, putting a fitting finish to the entire album.
There are albums that are a compilation of kickass tracks, and there are albums that require one’s consistent attention for full absorption, and Soundchaser‘s Changes Part I belongs to that latter category. Changes Part I might be an album that lasts for more than an hour and 15 minutes, but the quality of the musicianship, and songwriting over here makes it well worth it, and a real surprise after the first impression it left.