New Protection by Ride the Sky
Release date : August 2007
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
During early 2006, drummer Uli Kusch (erstwhile Helloween, Gamma Ray and Masterplan member) met Tears of Anger vocalist Bjorn Jansson, and the two conversed regarding musical ideas. Kusch departed from Masterplan in October, citing the fact that himself and the group no longer inspired one another. Following this development, Bjorn, and Benny Jansson (Tears of Anger guitarist), asked Kusch to drum upon an upcoming Tears of Anger full length. Kusch was impressed by the four tracks he received, and sent the pair several tracks the drummer had personally authored. In December, it was announced that Ride the Sky had inked a record contract with Nuclear Blast Records. Mathias Granås (Xsaviour) and Kaspar Dahlqvist (Dionysus, Stormwind) completed the lineup during January 2007, respectively occupying bass and keyboards. Mastered by Christofer Stannow at Cosmos Mastering, New Protection's recording and mixing duties were handled by Benny Jansson at Zinkens Studio in Stockholm, Sweden. Due June 1st, Nuclear Blast compilation CD Into The Light boasted a rough-mix version of “New Protection”. Filmed in Umeå, Sweden under the direction of Owe Lingvall from Village Road Film, the title track emerged in music video format. Whilst New Protection is slated for European release in late August, its Japanese release occurred a month earlier.
When gifted, experienced musicians convene in the aim to pen music, magical compositions usually beckon. Ride the Sky's individual members boast diverse musical backgrounds, and so consequently, incorporating those myriad influences likely proved the greatest challenge. One specific noise is audibly distinct, namely potent European Metal. Pooling together musicians whose respective curriculum vitaes encompass such acts as Helloween, Masterplan, Tears of Anger and Dionysus, European Metal's actual presence vindicates initial predictions. Throughout its musical journey, New Protection dons various shapes and guises. Supported by orchestral frameworks, Progressive Metal remains vitally prevalent within each cut. The intelligently written lyrical content provokes intense thoughts, and Jansson cements a dominant melodic performance. At times, Dahlqvist seizes the limelight. Aiding in the mission to fuse influences, Dahlqvist masterfully displays fluid keyboard prowess. Despite the fact that Ride the Sky is a newly formed outfit, it'd be unjust to critique fellow new acts against this experienced lineup - especially in light of the fact that this quintet penned such a distinguished album in New Protection.
The group's valid credentials have been sufficiently praised, so let's thoroughly scrutinize the full length's actual material. An eponymously titled number inaugurates New Protection, and bears a simplistic Metal ambience. In addition, the tune lends an indication as to Jansson's vocal range. Within “A Smile From Heaven's Eyes”' opening chords, the album shifts towards Progressive Metal. An adept execution of intricate, complex parts is central to the implementation of renowned Progressive Metal, and “A Smile From Heaven's Eyes” demonstrates that. Meanwhile, “The Prince of Darkness”' very name supplies a visual glimpse into the track's likely musical and lyrical content, although it surpisingly teams its dark subject matter alongside upbeat Metal riffs. Amongst the album's heaviest tracks perchance, “Break the Chain” wholly exhibits the forceful grind spawned by Benny Janson's and Granås' collective work. Handled with the utmost precision, both guitar solos and keyboard parts ultimately prevail, essentially mirroring most progressive works. Written by a charismatic, splendid raft of musicians, New Protection satisfies the lofty expectations which said notoriety commands. However, each specific track adheres to a formulaic structure, and therein lies the album's sole negative aspect. At certain junctures, this consequently spawns generally pedestrian music, although full lengths are rarely devoid of mediocre compositions. If the listener can triumph over that obstacle, then what's remaining is a collection of progressively heavy tracks, each rendered by skilful musicians.