Project Arcadia is the latest effort from melodic prog/power metal vocal powerhouse Urban Breed (ex-Tad Morose, ex-Bloodbound, Trail of Murder) Serious Black. A Time of Changes is the sophomore release in the discography of this Bulgarian progressive power metal band. The band consists of Plamen Uzunov (guitars) Dobromir Paraskov (bass) Daniel Dimitrov Dimitrov (drums), and Vili Neshev (guitars). Recently signed to Lance King’s Nightmare Records label, the album is scheduled for release on September 9, 2014. The album was mixed and Mastered by Jonas Kjellgren at Black Lounge Studios in Sweden (Sabaton, Scar Symmetry, Sonic Syndicate).
It’s apparent that the addition of Breed on lead vocals immediately propels Project Arcadia from relative obscurity to relevance within the underground prog/power underground. To say Project Arcadia has upped it’s game is an understatement. Before I focus on the albums content I will confess that I am not familiar with Project Arcadia’s previous work, but being a fan of Urban Breeds lengthy discography I was eagerly awaiting an opportunity to review his latest work. The musicianship throughout A Time of Changes is top notch, but that is expected when a band works with a well-known world-class vocalist. The last time Breed was heard from was on 2012’s excellent Shades of Art, the debut album from his band Trail of Murder. Shades of Art was one of my favorite albums of that year so Project Arcadia had a lot to live up to. Luckily, the album succeeded in impressing me right off the bat. The first thing that struck me is how different Breed’s vocal approach was in comparison to Trail of Murder (my most recent exposure to his vocals) but the tone, power, and passion in his delivery come shining through as always.
The albums first track Here To Learn is a heavy progressive headbanger that begins with the woman’s spoken word intro “You are now ready to descend”, and off we go with a furious barrage of guitar riffs and thunderous drums giving way to a melodic verse and catchy sing-a-long chorus from Breed. Shelter Me is an energetic, melodic power metal anthem with some tasty guitar leads and harmonies throughout. The tempo during the chorus picks up and the layered harmony vocals are like candy to my ears.
The pace slows down on the heartfelt I Am Alive, a beautifully crafted song with emotive expressive singing from Breed and lush vocal harmonies. The lead guitar work on this track is stands out among the best on the album. The metal comes roaring back on the next track Beggars At The Door. Machine gun rapid-fire double bass drumming and heavy guitar rhythms charge the song forward with Breeds smooth vocal lines keeping the song’s melody flowing and the vocals during the chorus are soaring and uplifting. Another slower track, The Ungrateful Child, a stripped down acoustic ballad, shows Breeds softer side with an impressive, emotional, powerful performance with stellar acoustic guitar work being the added highlight.
Timeless is a mid-tempo heavy rocker that starts slow but gradually builds to a crescendo during the chorus that shows off Breeds impressive upper register. The short acoustic instrumental interlude titled Joy, the title track slows things down before launching into the title track, a melodic power metal song with a mid-tempo verse and a tremendous anthemic chorus. Formidable Foe, with it’s chugging guitar rhythms and uplifting chorus is a standout, heavy as hell melodic power metal song that fans of the Trail of Murder album will no doubt be headbanging along to with reckless abandon. It’s no coincidence that this song was chosen as the albums first single/video.
Killer middle-eastern-esque guitar harmonies intro the beginning of The Deal, a mid-tempo rocker with a driving rhythm, intricate drum patterns and impressive chorus taken to another level by Breeds performance. The albums closing song, Shadows of the Night is another album highlight charged with power and melody and blazing guitar work. The chorus is among the albums best with multi-harmony vocals and Breed takes his vocals to yet another level with intensity. This was the perfect way to end the album and the listeners experience on a high note. Project Arcadia’s A Time For Changes is a very worthy addition to Urban Breeds extensive body of work and a must for fans of his previous work with Tad Morose, Bloodbound, and especially Trail of Murder.