My Soliloquy is basically a duo consisting of Pete Morten, of Threshold fame, and Damon Roots. Even when I write “duo” there is room for some doubt as the band is the brainchild of Morten, who sings and plays all instruments except for the drums. For the live performances the band is expanded with extra guitar player Mike Gilpin, bass player Chris Sharp and keyboardist Andy Berry. Starting in 2002, Pete Morten released a number of demos which resulted in support shows for Pagan's Mind, Oliver and Rick Wakeman and Threshold; the band that enlisted him in 2007. Therefore it has taken a while for My Soliloquy to give birth to their first full and real album The Interpreter.
On Threshold's latest album; March Of Progress (2012, see review) we could hear some contributions, written by Morten, which fitted perfectly with that band. So are his solo aspirations close to the ones he wrote for Threshold? In most songs you can hear bits and pieces that have a familiar sound, but mixed with different styles of melodies and his particular articulation, the songs have a soul of their own.
The album opener Ascension Pending starts with a sound similar to the one my computer makes when the temperature gets too hot, then the guitars take over; a strong start, fierce and quickly flowing into a vocal part. Here I get the first impression of the vocal abilities of Pete Morten; not bad,.. just different as I expected with a rolling R that either gives the song a charming touch or gets on your nerves at a certain point. Lots of overtones give the guitar parts some resemblance to Pagan's Mind's guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad. Towards the end, Threshold re-appears again. During Flash Point the vocals are as intense as in the previous song, but the rolling R distracts a bit from the composition, nevertheless the guitars are playing great riffs, giving the composition a good vibe. Now it's time to dance, Corrosive De-emphasis has a nice (short) surprising beginning, then the guitars take over, totally blowing everything away. At first when I was reading Morten was playing almost all instruments I was afraid the bass sound would be mixed way in the background, but during this strong composition, Pete took his time to focus, not only on the guitar but the bass parts sound exceptional and also the keyboards are pleasantly blended into the music. Fractured continues with a guitar part on high speed, the vocals are a bit darker and moodier than before, but in the higher regions are leaning more towards Dream Theater's James LaBrie. Normally I prefer the lower vocals, but strangely, when it comes to My Soliloquy, the higher ones sound better to me. A nice and furious solo brings the song to an end. Next is Six Seconds Grace, slower and while the intensity of Pete Morten's vocals is blooming here, somehow I hear some kind of resemblance with Ozzy Osbourne during this slower song. A computerized sound in the back does bother me a bit, but when the song gains power and the vocals raise an octave, the song enters a more comfortable zone, at least for me. As the sixth song; Dream In Extremis passes, I realize the songs all have some similarities in structure, although the pleasant guitar riffs do their job, the vocals are beginning to get to me, like I wrote before, not bad, just different. Another type of vocal style comes to mind when I listen to Inner Circles, that of System Of A Down vocalist Serj Tankian. Besides that, the song itself differs from the other compositions. Including the acoustic guitars and special vocal arrangements, this is a song that finally reveals something as a style of their own. The album finishes with an intense vocal driven composition; I. Slowly and relaxed Pete brings the album to an end.
The more I listen to this album, the more I get confused as I totally dig the guitars and bass during the songs but the vocals sometimes are super and sometimes they just don't get to me.
The compositions themselves, are good and solid, but never get spectacular, besides Inner Circles which stands out. I love Pete Morten in Threshold, and I might have had too high expectations, comparing him with his Threshold band mates,.. but as a solo artist with his own band, he did not convince me (yet)..
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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