Ian Parry appears to be a regular guest in my album collection: from Vengeance, Misha Calvin and Tamas to Elegy; in between his solo albums and of course his prestigious Consortium Project. The latter can be seen as Parry's personal brainchild originally intended as a project for just one album. However, after the success of Ian Parry's Consortium Project (1999) he decided to make it a trilogy and two other impressive albums followed in 2001 and 2003. Being pressed by fans and journalists part four was released in 2007 and recently the fifth part appeared - he told me that this is definitely the last...
For his Consortium Project, Parry has always chosen the best available musicians in the power and progressive metal genre like Stefan Lill (Vanden Plas), Patrick Rondat (Elegy), Thom Youngblood (Kamelot) and Niels Vejlyt (Infinity Overture), just to name a few. On the new album Species, he asked his old friends Stefan Lill and Niels Vejlyt on guitar accompanied by guitarist Veith Offenbacher (Dawn Of Destiny), bassists Kris Gildenl÷w (ex- Pain Of Salvation) and Jens Faber (Dawn Of Destiny), drummer Casey Grillo (Kamelot) and keyboardists Kalin Jechev and Peter-Jan Kleevens. For vocal support Parry brought in two female singers, namely Lene Petersen and Ani Lozanova (AniLo Projekt) to complete the line-up.
After the Epilogue the albums opens with the typical guitar sound of Stefan Lill on Life On Earth, a bombastic progressive metal song with the familiar sounding background vocals, a well-known part of Parry's music. Following is the powerful double bass cracker Origins Of Mankind with a stunning middle-section: the radio soundscapes over the heavy guitar make it sound very special. No time to slow down, the album continues at full speed. The Worst Has Yet To Come contains powerful guitar work combined with keyboards. In my opinion, the keyboards are mixed slightly too much in the background. Ian's vocals are as good as always despite the fact that Species is his twenty-first album in twenty-five years. An Untold Message is slowing down a bit, changing the atmosphere though Jens Faber plays a mean guitar on this one providing for a darker sound than we've heard before. An orchestral opening changes to a Rammstein-like riff; then Parry's distinguished voice, impressive drums and great backing vocals take over.
Sirens contains a recognizable refrain, easy to sing along with at a live concert. It has a touch of gothic metal in the choirs and with a compliment for Veith Offenbacher's effort on guitar. We hear great balanced guitars and keyboards on Pitch Back, another well-played song with a clear guitar sound, a wonderful solo and a crafty end. In Silence Calling you can enjoy Lene Petersen's voice over a nice rumbling bass and some of Niels Vejlyt's best guitar work on the album. Parry exchanges vocals with Petersen on Species, which provides for a special gothic touch, but it's above all nice and bombastic. Heavy riffs have a leading role in Enemy Within and beside the male and female voice a kind of grunting appears. For me this is the most impressive song. The final piece Oracle starts as a Within Temptation-piece. This keyboard and classical sounding song is the last one of the Consortium Project. The great guitars and especially the brilliant vocalist close the album in style.
After the fifth album of the Consortium Project, Ian Parry closes the book. The final chapter Species contains more gothic metal influences than the previous albums, the songs are slightly rougher, but remain at a high level due to the way they are performed. And as far as the vocals are concerned: hats off to Ian Parry! I wonder what his next musical adventure is going to be like.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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