What is the first thought you have when you see the album features eighteen tracks overall? Well, if you don’t know the genre, I guess there are two obvious conclusions to draw from it. Either the songs are very short, around three or four minutes in length, or there are few atmospheric, short pieces vital to the flow or the record’s plot, helping to provide the narration. But if you know it’s a progressive metal double album, the perception changes drastically, because, basically, who knows what those progressive musicians with their weird musical views have done this time? So when I’ve read the information about Trinity Road, the first album released by the trio All Seeing Eyes, I was prepared to find out something I didn’t really expect, and right I was, for the songs’ length varies from four to nearly ten minutes, and this whole beast of work is clocking at about 110 minutes.
All Seeing Eyes is a new band on the scene, freshly formed by three people: Ben Colton, who played guitars, both acoustic and electric, and also took his place at the microphone; James Thackway on keyboards; and Kenny Fraser on guitars as well as the bass, and besides that, he also programmed drums for the album. Both guitarists are taking turns for the lead and rhythm sections, resulting in compelling, impressive guitar work throughout the record. There are also a few guest appearances on some songs that can’t and shouldn’t be overlooked, namely Ben Jackson, Danae Saree, Michalis Rinakakis and Venetia Sitaropoulou, who all recorded guest vocals; David Del Cid and Dave Shirman provided the guest solos.
Stating the obvious, Trinity Road isn’t an easy listen, not only because of its immense length, but also due to complex and intricate structure of some numbers appearing on it. Some songs simply have no chorus, on others there can be some four minutes long instrumental sections, and all those other things natural for the genre. I usually tend to provide a quick rundown for every song what I write the reviews, but since this album is monstrously long, I think it would be a good idea to narrow this to the record’s highlights, which can be found in abundance on the both discs, and funnily enough, they come in streaks, actually. The first streak opens up with the title track, Trinity Road, which is one of those seemingly chorusless songs; despite that, it oozes with memorable moments all around. The unsophisticated keyboard riff in the beginning is one of them, mostly due to how it’s subtly yet quite effectively referenced in the background during the verse. The song unfurls slowly, starting off with the calm, soothing and reassuring Ben’s voice over the acoustic arpeggios and the intensity is building up with the electric guitars kicking in halfway the verse. At its highest point the track breaks down into the instrumental goodness, and then with the new sing-along vocal melody it drifts in the more epic, grandiloquent direction, ending the whole performance with a powerful, impressive scream.
The streak continues with one of the best songs on the record, Haunted, and this is where the progressive nature of All Seeing Eyes shines. A slow and clean electric guitars intro quickly transforms into the syncopated riff with the keyboards layer underneath it, and then the vocals make their entrance over the same riff, which sounds quite jarring, yet strangely appropriate. The whole song is written in this awkward vein, and the strange thing it actually works quite convincingly. The reckless vocal delivery on the chorus makes a nice, welcome contrast with otherwise technical and almost soulless instrumentation, and that’s what is so attractive in Haunted for me. The next song, however, is the opposite of “soulless” in every way possible. Wildlife (The Tribe) offers us an opportunity to find ourselves in a wild jungle forest, if only we would close our eyes there, thanks to the extended acoustic intro with those distinctive eclectic drum sounds. The band really went out of their usual way and sound to create this unmistakable imagery of a wild life; this song is unique and there is no other that sound like it on this record at all. The drawling, slurred vocal lines Ben’s singing are tremendously in line with the other atmosphere. The whole song like that would’ve been quite boring, but the band solved this problem with separating the first and second verse with those insane screams over the pounding guitar riff, only to return to the eclectic, ringing sound later. Wildlife strikes me as the song with the tightest songwriting on the record, and is definitely a gem of Trinity Road.
Now, for the next highlights streak we’ve got to skip a chunk of material to the longest song of Trinity Road, called Demons. Clocking at almost ten minutes, this huge progressive tune manages to have quite a few twists and turns in the mood and pace, while being concise and not disjointed at all at the same time. The leveled acoustic intro goes long enough to lull the listener into a false sense of security, only to explode with extensive burst of energy and desperation afterwards. The complex vocal passages here are entwined with crushing guitarwork, weaving the epic canvas seamlessly; the instrumental section follows, where the clean guitar solo is being supported by chugging rhythm guitar, until it all comes back to where the song has begun, to the mellow, beautiful acoustic part again, followed by dramatic conclusion to the song. However, the longest song doesn’t equal the most epic song for All Seeing Eyes, because after a quick heavy Break The Chains the actual epic of the record comes in.
Now, it might be a little weird for such song to be only six minutes in length, but the soaring vocals and bombastic atmosphere of middle paced Follow The Leader are just enough to declare this song epic as I don’t even know what. This song is just dripping with epicness in every sense of this word. The steady, measured, and somewhat relaxing parts are alternating with speedy, heavy sections until that magnificently pompous part comes in after a quick solo. I just have to give those enormous props to Ben Colton for actually being able to sing this song the way he did, because if that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is. And of course I have to mention the (perhaps unintended) Greensleeves nod in the closing guitar passage, it just grabbed my attention.
Now that we’ve had enough progressiveness in both Demons and Follow The Leader, the most power metal song of Trinity Road approaches. Hunted is the beacon of power, tension, speed and energy in this album, and hell, I can’t help but appreciate it. Reminding me of Die Young by Black Sabbath and some early Helloween, this song just makes me headbang fiercely with its relentless pace, fast guitar and keyboard riffs and neverending screams. The sequence of Follow The Leader – Haunted is definitely the best thing on the album and I love how impeccably the vocals are utilized there.
So, those are the highlights, but don’t get me wrong, there are more great songs here, from the saccharine ballad Just a Memory, through the rockish The Cube and Heart of the Storm, to the hollow and longing The Aftermath. The amount of strong material on this album is stunning. Based solely on the songwriting for the tracks I’ve mentioned, this could’ve been a five stars album easily. However, as much as it pains me to write this, there are, in my opinion, three significant flaws that severely hindered my enjoyment of this otherwise amazing album. First off, I should address the mix; the vocals seem incredibly low for me there, down to the point I can’t even hear them in the most intense moments. On one hand, such kind of mix allows the other instruments to shine, and it can surely be noticed in the spectacular guitars and keyboards sounds, but on the other hand, if there are vocals, I want to be able to make them out without an additional effort, and quite frankly, it’s not that easy to do that here, especially when a lot is going on in instrumental department, like on Haunted. Second, in my opinion again, this album feels a bit bloated. While I appreciate the effort and the boldness of putting out the nearly two-hours-long album as a debut, it’s indeed difficult to sit through all of it, for while the better songs are sweepingly great, the others are just alright, and the temptation of skipping them to get to the higher peaks of Trinity Road is strong and hard to resist. Finally, the third thing I wanted to address is a relatively small songwriting aspect, namely the extensive use of fadeouts to close the songs. While there are instances where it’s only appropriate and necessary (like on Follow The Leader), sometimes it’s not just that satisfying ending to the song. And the fadeouts themselves are a bit too abrupt to my taste. Say, in Secrets Beneath The Surface, the song is going on at full force, and then in literally five seconds it’s over and the acoustic part of Demons is playing, and I’m sitting here in disbelief the song actually ended that way.
However, if you’re willing to overlook those disadvantages, this album is rewarding and enjoyable. I do think it could use some trimming here and there, and if you put all the best songs in one disc, it would be something close to a masterpiece, but the truth is, it’s still enjoyable even in its current format. The band has a lot of potential, has chops in inserting those weird progressive elements in the songs, has the talent writing the catchy melodies and memorable riffs, well, you name it; and for the first effort Trinity Road is quite above the average mark, but there’s still room to improve, in my opinion.