Circle Of Illusion -
Jeremias - Foreshadow Of Forgotten Realms

(CD 2013, 79:59, Generation Prog Records GENPRCD005)

The tracks:
  1- Overture(3:55)
  2- The Beginning(7:05)
  3- The Run(9:46)
  4- The Memory Returns(6:05)
  5- The Party(2:16)
  6- Closing Doors(6:06)
  7- New Age(8:08)
  8- Continuum(9:51)
  9- Sarah's Dream(3:58)
10- 13th floor(3:58)
11- Nightmare(16:18)

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In the seventies I really hated disco music. In those days it was just the opposite of the music I used to listen to. In my vision progressive rock had everything that disco lacked. Oh, yes, you could dance on disco which was above all loved by girls and young women. Back then it was not done to like disco music! I'm about forty years older now and today I listen to that kind of music with a different perspective. Now I understand that disco musicians mastered their instruments as well, and they also had the talents to entertain an audience. Currently you don't have to be ashamed for liking this musical style and I think the Austrian keyboardist and composer Gerald Peter must have had similar thoughts when he started to write his music, because on the debut album of his band Circle Of Illusion he included disco as well. Moreover, he introduced other musical styles that you don't hear that often on a prog rock album.

In the rock opera Jeremias - Foreshadow Of Forgotten Realms Gerald Peter included musical styles like prog rock, metal, jazz, musical, classical music, disco and fusion. You might think that all these different elements on one single album must sound completely stupid, but that isn't the case at all. In 2006 Peter started to work on the foundations of this concept album and he wanted to have the best musicians on board in order to realize his dream to blend as much musical styles as possible. After making a demo in 2010 of one of the included tracks, he met singer-songwriter Taris Brown. Together with this wonderful male singer, who sounds like a mixture of the voices of Michael Sadler (Saga) and Damian Wilson (Threshold), he formed Circle Of Illusion in 2011. Peter recruited several other musicians including the brilliant guitarist Rupert Träxler, the talented bassist Stephan Först, the excellent drummer Aaron Their and the electric violinist Ulrike Mullner. Apart from having Taris Brown on lead vocals, he asked the superb female singers Cara Cole and Elgar Shafran to interpret the characters in this rock opera.

Jeremias - Foreshadow Of Forgotten Realms is an epic piece of music, a progressive symphony that in its final version deals with the ambivalence of human emotion. While listening to this excellent album that lasts eighty minutes, it became clear that Gerald Peter and his fellow-musicians have realized something really special that grabbed me by the throat right from the start. The music sounds so ingenious that I'm almost lost for words to express what happens throughout the album, but I'll try anyway!

In general you might say that the music is a mixture of progressive rock and metal made by bands such as Haken, Neil Morse, Saga, Dream Theater, Symphony X and Threshold. Even Kayak crossed my mind on several occasions. This musical style forms the basis on which various other styles can flourish. The musicians easily change this style into disco music without becoming annoying or evoking the feelings of disgust I formerly had towards the genre. Simply because it's so perfectly done that I enjoyed it throughout. It's really incredible that I loved the kind of music made by Nile Rodgers (Chic) right from the beginning. Then again the music shifts towards a style of Broadway musicals and I'm getting the impression of listening to, for example, Les Miserables and then suddenly it changes into a Hollywood metal style like Rhapsody (On Fire) or to classical music of which the arrangements are so cleverly done that everything just fits like a glove!

It's mainly the excellent rhythm section that provided the possibility to change from one genre to another without sounding completely ridiculous. Aaron Their and Stephan Först make it possible for the great singers and instrumentalists to shine on all tracks. Mentioning any favourite pieces is just impossible, because the entire CD sounds brilliant without having a weak composition or even a weak part. Once I started the album I couldn't turn it off and I felt obliged to listen to the last seconds of the final track of this gorgeous album! The cover and the artwork make the picture complete. The tasteful images in the booklet tell the story of Jeremias. It includes all of the lyrics and the storyline and it even gives you a better view of how this rock opera develops while listening to the amazing music.

While reading the above you may already expect that only the highest rating is suitable for a superb sounding concept album like Jeremias - Foreshadow Of Forgotten Realms. For me this is a true masterpiece that perfectly blends different musical styles into something new which is in fact the core of progressive music. After listening to this album I felt I could die in peace! Well, that's maybe a bit exaggerated, but it indicates my feelings for this wonderful musical concept. This album will most certainly end up in my top ten of 2013. No doubt about that!

***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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