Entering Polaris -
Atlantean Shores / And Silently The Age Did Pass

(2CD, 2023, 70:01/ 47:44, Freya Records)

The tracks:

Atlantean Shores:
  1- Forever(6:00)
  2- The Lords Of The Last(3:22)
  3- The Tempest And The Sea(7:36)
  4- Sands Of Time(4:32)
  5- Do Raindrops Aspire To Be Oceans?(6:12)
  6- Six Directions Of Space(19:41)
  7- Extraordinary Journeys(4:25)
  8- A Season Away(4:05)
  9- This Old Land (An Arrow To The Sun)(3:40)
10- Distant Horizons(10:25)
And Silently The Age Did Pass:
Projected Horizons:
         1- Part.I: Driftwood On Dire Seas(1:05)
         2- Part II: Ere We Sleep Under The Soil(4:41)
  3- Counting Hours(4:45)
  4- Glacier(4:42)
  5- Frozen By The Fire(0:55)
  6- Gordian Pristine(4:39)
  7- Empty Heaven(3:33)
  8- The Light At The Edge Of The Earth(3:46)
  9- Always A Moment Too Late(5:18)
...And Silently The Age Did Pass:
         10- Pt.I: Portent(1:23)
         11- Pt.II: Coming Of The Great Rain(3:41)
         12- Pt.III: The Sweep Of Ages(5:10)
         13- Pt.IV: Retrospective(4:07)

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Entering Polaris is a Belgian musical project that has seen the day of light since 2014. It is the brainchild of Tom'Tee' Tas, a lyricist/producer and above all a guitarist who used to offer his skills to bands such as Ostrogoth, Thorium, 23 Acez, Quantum Fantay and Neo Prophet. The idea behind Entering Polaris is to realise a long overdue dream: creating music that not only unites influences from all the kinds of music Tom has loved since his teenage years, but which also brings together a plethora of stunning vocalists from all across the scene. Entering Polaris released the debut album Godseed in 2018.

Now five years later, they have come up with new material. Musical mastermind Tom has chosen to release a double album this time around. The first of two other double albums. This is the plan which the musician came up with:

Album 1: Atlantean Shores -- six-string guitars; melodic/progressive metal
Album 2: And Silently The Age Did Pass - fully acoustic; dark and atmospheric
Album 3: Myths In Motion -- seven-string guitars; modern, heavy and progressive
Album 4: Songs Of Ivory And Obsidian - all piano; delicate and emotional

These four records will be released as two double-releases and every single album contains one of Tom's musical influences so to speak. The musical format which is used can be compared to the musical projects of Tobias Sammet's Avantasia and Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon. Working with several different musicians and singers on every album release. Tom 'Tee' Tas played most of the instruments himself such as guitars and bass guitars. His musical companion on this project is drummer Louis van der Linden. Just like Ed Warby is the drummer on most Ayreon releases.

So we first welcome Atlantean Shores and And Silently The Age Did Pass. The first of two double-albums with different musical styles.

On Atlantean Shores you can expect technical, traditional melodic progressive metal and power metal which can be compared to bands such as Iron Maiden, Kamelot, Anubis Gate, Angra, Rhapsody, Vision Divine to name but a few. The album is packed with lots of different lead singers. I will not mention each and every one but the most well known names are people such as Roy Kahn (Concepetion, ex Kamelot), David Marcelis (Thorium, Lord Volture), Fabio Lione (Angra, Athena XIX, Spirits Of Fire), Lance King (Balance Of Power, Pyramaze), Nick Holleman (Powerized, Methuselah) and Henrik Fevre (Anubis Gate). The ten tracks on this release feature straight forward heavy guitar parts with loud grunts but at the same time also rather mellow melodic acoustic guitar parts. At first you have to get into the music before you can make your final judgment. Because at first many lovers of progressive rock may not like the fast speedy guitars and sometimes screaming singers. But if you listen well enough you will discover the beauty of the clever mix between those fast speedy guitars and sometimes screaming singers and the more mellow melodic acoustic parts with fine strong beautiful vocals. I gave it a chance and loved it in the end a lot.

The second album And Silently The Age Did Pass brings something completely different. It comes music wise more in the direction of progressive rock. Therefore lovers of this genre will enjoy this album more than the one I mentioned earlier. You might say it is more mellow and laid back, completely acoustic and doused with numerous dark and atmospheric elements. The use of instruments such as contrabass, cello, piano, violin classical and acoustic guitars are to blame. They even give the songs sometimes an orchestral classical feeling. Here we can also enjoy a couple of different vocalists which sound rather strong throughout the entire album. People such as Sindre Nedland (In Vain) John Yelland (Judicator, Principium, Disforia) and Anneleen Olbrechts (Thorium). Music wise the album might be compared to The Gentle Storm. Consisting of composer and guitarist Arjen Anthony Lucassen and singer and lyricist Anneke van Giersbergen.

When you hear Atlantean Shores and And Silently The Age Did Pass you will notice that the contrast between both albums could hardly be greater. But that also has its charm. Because sometimes you are in different moods music wise. Sometimes you have a fight with your best friend or lover and are full of aggressive thoughts. At those moments you put Atlantean Shores on to get rid of those negative feelings. On the other hand when you are in a really good mood and want to have a special moment with your loved ones you put on And Silently The Age Did Pass. Of course it doesn't mean you can't play them at other times. It's all up to you the listener.

One thing is rather sure that Tom 'Tee' Tas is a fine gifted musician who shows all of his musical facets on those two releases. It also has to be said that if you thought that the albums contains some keyboards, except from some piano parts, you are wrong. What you hear is a lot of harmony in the guitar work and harmony vocals. Which sometimes gives you the impression you are listening to keyboards. This is of course very cleverly done and thumbs up for that.

All in all a fine double album if you are open to this kind of music. Now let's wait for the other double album Myths In Motion and Songs Of Ivory And Obsidian. Which is even more suitable for lovers of progressive rock.

*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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