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By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Thursday, March 10, 2016 @ 2:12 PM

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The Art Of Loss

Metal Blade Records - 2016

Despite my fandom for FATES WARNING singer Ray Alder, I've never really felt compelled to check out his work with the progressive metal act REDEPMTION before now. But when I heard the advance release of the song "Damaged" I was very intrigued to say the least. When you factor in their simple and stark album cover art design, I knew I had to grab up the album on the day of release.

(Yes, I'm one of those people who can be swayed, at least a little bit, by a compelling album cover.)

Now, while I might normally shy away from any band or album that seemingly traffics high degree of spirituality in persona or song lyrics, I have to say that I found the work on The Art Of Loss to be highly engaging and effective. There's an obvious degree of spirituality to the lyrics contained within songs, but it never gets so heavy handed as to overwhelm the simple act of creating good music that resonates after the disc is over.

The album's title song opens the disc and the fast paced rocker is a top notch track with which to kick things off. It sets the tone for the majority of the album that the more uptempo tracks burn with fiery collection of tight riffs, a slamming rhythmic foundation while Alder's soaring vocals chart the course for each song.

The album is dedicated to the band's guitarist Bernie Versaiiles, who is still battling to recover from serious medical problems. In his stead, Nicolas van Dyk has overseen this album's creation. He plays lead and rhythm guitar as well as keyboards. He wrote all 8 of the album's original songs and co-produced the album. There's a great lineup of guest musicians as well. Among those guests are three former MEGADETH guitarists (Chris Poland, Marty Friedman and Chris Broderick) that all appear at least once throughout the album. Poland is actually credited in the liner notes as being extensively involved playing leads. ARMORED SAINT's John Bush appears on the band's cover of THE WHO's "Love Reign O'er Me" and does a fabulous job both honoring the classic track while at the same time giving it an extra bit of vocal power with his less restrained rasp.

About the only nitpick I have with the album would be a couple of tracks that start out slow. Both "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" and "Hope Dies Last" start off so unassumingly that I felt my attention wandering away. But the good thing is that both tracks later kicked into a higher gear and left me with a better overall feeling for each. On "Slouching Towards Bethlehem", after the first two and a half minutes, the resoundingly heavy and thunderous pace helped anchor the song more strongly. As for "Hope Dies Last", once that song got going it became one of the more impressive songs on the disc. It features a fantastic chorus too.

As I mentioned before, the guitar work is outstanding on this album and two songs in particular were worth spotlighting for this particular aspect of the music. The aforementioned "Damaged" is an out and out phenomenal song when taken as a whole, but when factoring in the work done by both Van Dyk and Friedman, comes something even greater.

As for the electrifying rocker "Thirty Silver", all three ex-MEGADETH guitarists take turns weaving their singular six string magic into one collective magnificent whole.

And as much as I have raved about the material on the album to this point, I think it all ends up being just a bit outshined by the closing track's sheer brilliance. "At Day's End" is a 22 minute epic that brilliantly demonstrates the near genius musical composition skills of Nicolas Van Dyk. Despite the possibility of frittering away valuable running time on musical ideas that go nowhere and add nothing to the song, Van Dyk avoids that pitfall and instead crafts a perfect blend of every musical style and pace you could want. Each musical idea flows into the next as a cohesive whole. One moment there will be a slow paced tempo that will then give way to a high energy section that feeds into the musical tapestry without feeling like a disjointed add-on. It is simply a marvelous bit of music that could be enjoyed solely on its own but melds with the rest of the album's track list so that it serves as a fitting conclusion to a rather outstanding finished product.

The Art Of Loss stands on its own as a powerful musical statement and gives REDEMPTION an album that should make any metal fan, if they haven't already, sit up and take notice of what the band has to offer.

4.6 Out Of 5.0

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