Selling The Aggression is the third album of The Aurora Project, a Dutch prog metal band. This album also marks their tenth anniversary of playing together as a band, although there might be some confusion about this fact, for their website says thirteen years while the biography mentions ten years. Anyway, after their debut Unspoken Words (2007) and Shadow Border (2009, see review), which got a five-star rating on this website, the new CD is again a concept album just like their first. This time the theme of the album is the changing society from the moment the internet was worldwidely introduced, to the establishment of a new world order. I can assure people who don't fancy concept albums that the songs can easily be listened to separately.
Being a band with a steady line-up, The Aurora Project still consist of singer Dennis Binnekade, keyboardist Marcel Guijt, the guitarists Remco van der Berg and Marc Vooijs, bass player Rob Krijgsman and drummer Joris Bol. On the album they cooperate with Siddhartha Barnhoorn, a friend of the band. He took care of the orchestrations on two songs. The first notes of Dualistic Consciousness immediately set the tone for what is to follow: clear but powerful guitar play. Only when Binnekade starts singing with a smooth and relaxed voice, the song increases power. His voice, which has touches of Marco Glühman (Sylvan), Mariusz Duda (Riverside) and even Fish (Marillion), perfectly fits this kind of music. A strong element in the music is the use of two guitars: the first one tightly keeps the pace with a strong riff, while the second plays a stunning solo. The latter ends connected to the internet using an old telephone line that brings back memories to the days we had to wait a while before we could connect.
Turn Of The Tide starts nice and easy; it's neo-prog in the vein of the early Marillion and all the bands that came after them. Towards the end of the song the atmosphere changes when the orchestration starts and the twin guitars take over with heavy riffing. I get goosebumps all over when Oil Supremacy starts; heavy riffs and powerful drumming transform to a 'president's speech'. A guitar sound that reminds me of Pink Floyd can be gently heard in the background thus creating a special atmosphere. After the speech the heavy guitars continue on top of layers of keyboards. A definite highlight on the album is the creative drumming of Joris Bol: from soft and subtle to heavy double bass drums. The title track is a blend of Rush, heavy orchestrations and soundscapes which work very well. In my opinion Dennis Binnekade's vocals are the connection to neo-prog and therefore this piece belongs to the heaviest parts of this subgenre. However, the guitars have a much more prog metal approach; they're clearly crossing the boundaries of metal and neo-prog during this very impressive track where strong keyboard sounds naturally segue into a relaxed guitar solo.
The Sense Of Reality starts as a ballad, but gently grows to an epic track, wherein the keyboards provide the strong background for the rising guitars. There's a strong passage wherein harmony vocals occur and a strong riff takes over. A bass sound resembling Riverside opens Speeding Up Of Time. Later on the vocal lines seem to be directly taken from the famous Hebrew song Hava Nagila (Let's be happy), I guess to emphasize all the religious problems in the world. The band's sound gets a kind of alt-rock twist blended with prog rock in the style of Riverside. The final song on the album is Newtopia. The guitars gently take the time to picture this song, before Dennis Binnekade takes over with his clear voice while the power increases. However, in my opinion this final song is also the weakest on Selling The Aggression. I really hoped for a big bang to end the album, but that doesn't happen.
The Aurora Project has succeeded in making a great album that I enjoyed very much. The music is an impressive mixture of progressive metal and neo-prog played with a no-nonsense attitude. Well, up to and including the sixth track, this album should have got the maximum rating of five stars, but I found the final piece slightly disappointing. It didn't provide the album with a finale I was hoping for. In spite of that Selling The Aggression is still an impressive album.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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