After the release of Ian Parry's fifth Consortium Project album: Species, Lion Music wanted to re-release the whole range of albums that came before Ian's 2011 masterpiece. As an extra addition, all the albums will have some extra versions of existing songs. It should not be too hard for me to write something because I bought the first release in 1999 and still appreciate the quality music on what is now called Criminals And Kings.
What impressed me the first time and still impresses me is the amount of outstanding musicians that participate on the album. Besides Ian, who takes care of the keyboards and vocals, we have guitarists; Stephan Lill (Vanden Plas), Thom Youngblood, (Kamelot) Patrick Rondat (Elegy and Jean Michel Jarre) and Tamas Zsekeres. As for bass players, Ian got his old Elegy band mate Martin Helmantel and ex Vengeance band mates Jan Bijlsma and Barend Courbois. Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) also played bass on the album. For a drummer, Dirk Bruinenberg (Elegy) was the one Ian needed. Producer and former Victory guitarist Tommy Newton played keyboards and the Dutch pianist Jan Vayne also contributed on this first Consortium Project album.
After playing in Elegy, Ian Parry's Consortium Project was a step further into the world of progressive metal, with more focus on the progressive side and a concept story, that, in the end, took five albums to complete. The songs that have Stephan Lill as a guitar player, like Banquet Of Thieves, Evilworld, Garden Of Eden, The Snake and the title track lean towards the music that Stephan normally plays in his band Vanden Plas. Combined with Ian's vocals, these songs still impress me very much. The songs with Patrick Rondat; House Of Cards, The Entity and Pandora's Box, head more into the Elegy direction. Special mention to the power ballad A Miracle Is All We Need, which is a tremendous song based on Jan Vayne's piano playing underneath the power of the guitars and majestic vocals. Thomas Youngblood's contribution; Change Breeds Contempt, has besides the heavy melody a kind of Rammstein riff as a base. Tamas Zsekeres only plays on Pandora's Box and I think that his style of playing is different from the other guitarists-the neo classical song closed the first edition of the album. As a bonus, the song A Miracle Is All We Need returns in an almost acoustic fashion. The acoustic guitar of Patrick Rondat gives the song a little extra and listening to this version, I wonder why this one was not chosen for the original album. The other extra song is a second version of Evilworld, which is not that different from the first edition, but has Ayreon's Arjen Lucessen on bass and so you can listen how the demo version, which I think this is, has grown into the final version on the album.
I don't think I have to dig too deep into the songs on Ian Parry's Consortium Project's first attempt. We know that the album was a success and led to four more albums. Lion Music did a good thing to re-release the first Consortium album after last month's fifth and the coming months will show the re-release of the other three as well. For the people that missed some of the Consortium albums, these re-releases are your next chance to gather some great music by a brilliant vocalist and composer. Consortium Project Continuum In Extremis is the next to follow.
**** Pedro Bekkers (Edited by Robert James Pashman)
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