What do you get when bestseller author Kevin Anderson joins forces with record company ProgRock Records and with Erik Norlander, one of the best keyboard players on this planet? Well, you get Roswell Six and the album Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon. The music written by Erik Norlander was inspired on one of Kevin Andersonís stories. In this story, Anderson creates an incredible fantasy universe with sailing ships, sea monsters and crusades. The album appeared at the same time as Andersonís new novel The Edge Of The World. In the press info sheet, Anderson says: ďMy work has always been heavily influenced by music, especially progressive rock, but Terra Incognita truly takes this into a new territory.Ē He shaped the story of the book into the form of a real concept album. Together with his wife, bestseller author Rebecca Moesta, he wrote all the lyrics for this album.
Shawn Gordon of the ProgRock Records-label was the initiator behind the project. He succeeded in getting all the well-known musicians together. Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists) produced the project and wrote all the music. Since Erik nearly always works together with his wife Lana Lane, it was evident that she became the female lead singer. Well-known vocalists like James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga) and John Payne (John Payneís Asia) performed the male roles. Finally, you need of course a band to play all the compositions. The following guest musicians joined and became the nucleus of Roswell Six: Kurt Barabas (Under The Sun, Amaranís Plight) on bass guitar, David Ragsdale (Kansas) on violin, Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery, Amaranís Plight) and Chris Brown (Ghost Circus) on guitars, Chris Quirarte (Prymary, Rocket Scientists) on drums, Mike Alvarez on cello and Martin Orford (ex-IQ, ex-Jadis) on flute.
Next question: what do you get when all the music has finally been recorded on CD? Well, that question is not so easy to answer. The CD certainly needs some spins to become familiar with the music and the story. After the first spin, I thought the album sounded very much like one of Erik Norlanderís solo albums. His album Into The Sunset was his first attempt to mix progressive rock with metal. I heard the same kind of music on this album. However, if you take the time to get a bit deeper into the music, youíll hear the fine details that make progressive rock music so interesting. The track The Sinking Of The Luminara is a fine example. Davidís violin and Kurtís bass guitar both have a leading role in this piece supported by Erikís fine playing on the mellotron and synthesizers. Another good example is Letters In A Bottle. On this piece, we can enjoy Lana Laneís great voice together with some awesome flute playing by Martin Orford.
All vocalists deliver outstanding performances. Sometimes they sound even better than in their own band! I would like to give a big compliment to all the musicians involved in this project, because they all did an amazing job! My only negative remark is that the music doesnít sound very original. In Anchored for instance, I heard some parts that strongly reminded me of Led Zeppelinís Kashmir. But who cares! As long as the music sounds perfect, it doesnít bother me at all. After forty years of progressive rock, itís practically impossible to have a unique or even an original sound. Anyway, I had a great time listening to this fine concept album that will probably appeal to many prog and metal heads. As a consequence of reviewing this album, I maybe read The Edge Of The World someday.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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