The Dutch progressive rock/metal band Day Six once started as Peanuts, but when the music evolved from a kind of punk rock to what theyíre playing nowadays Ė symphonic metal with influences from Dream Theater, Opeth and Pink Floyd Ė it felt right to change the bandís name too. A fresh start so to speak. The Grand Design is, apart from two short demo-like albums, their second full-length effort. After Eternal Dignity (2003), the band was busy winning The Metal Battle and the Metal Bash-awards, but now there was time to record and release The Grand Design. Itís a concept album about an extraterrestrial spaceship that was found in Antarctica while the government tried to prevent information from leaking out to the world about E.T.-life. Itís not an original concept, Iím afraid, but it worked out very well and while listening to it youíll be captured by this story.
The album opens with a nine-minute epic called Massive Glacial Wall, which sets the mark for this album. Heavy guitars and spacey synthesizers work their way through a piece with many mood and speed changes. On the entire album the vocals have some resemblance with Geoff Tate (Queensryche). Flowing into the next song Lost Identity, the story continues, a little smoother this time, but still the heavy guitars claim the listenerís attention and the moody synthesizers, played by Dolf van Heugten, makes this piece very consistent. In this song they even include a saxophone. Standing out in Castel Gandolfo is the smooth groove between the bass, played by Nick Verstappen, and the majestic drums by Daan Liebregts just before an outstanding guitar solo kicks in. Another highlight is the sixteen-minute long epic piece Inside. This song grows from a very cool acoustic guitar part to a furious riff, double bass drums and a pounding bass, before slowing down again. In this piece Robbie van Stiphout shows he has a perfect voice for progressive rock/metal. Heís also responsible for the majestic guitar playing in this song and not only in this song, but throughout the whole album he puts his heart into the music. No time to relax as Fergus Falls takes you further on this journey, especially on listening to the final solo; nice sounds the way Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) likes to play them. Day Six can also perform emotional pieces of music as they prove in the ballad-like song A Soulís Documentary. Age Of Technology grows to one of the finest solos of the album and in 7th Sign you can enjoy very strong multi-layered vocals that give a slightly different feeling, slower and moodier, a great finale for a great album. In The End closes The Grand Design. This piece can be considered as a soundscape with a Dave Gilmour sounding guitar over different kind of sounds and synthesizers. During this part, the whole album will find its place in your mind.
Day Six recorded an album of a very high quality level, progressive with massive riffs, wonderful vocals, well- structured and clearly produced. I think we need more of this kind of progressive rock music!
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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