Richard Andersson's Space Odyssey
Embrace the Galaxy
“Embrace the Galaxy” is an album that I picked up quite some time ago, and have only listened to very occasionally. Along with a number of others, I decided to review this album mostly to re-acquaint myself with it. Being aware of Richard Andersson's work with numerous projects, I think I can safely say that this is my favorite project of his. Everything that he works with is fairly neo-classical in flavor, and Space Odyssey is no exception. However, it differs from his other work and other space-themed projects as well (Star One and Luca Turilli).
While highly symphonic, “Embrace the Galaxy” is somewhat darker in tone that any of the above (needless to say, this doesn't include Adagio's work after Andersson's departure), and wraps itself in airs of mystery and grandeur from the get-go. The keyboards go a long way in building atmosphere of the album, but it's really the guitars that have the most showy moments. There's an awful lot of Malmsteen-esque shredding to be found here, enough to please even the most skeptical guitar critic.
“Despair and Pain” is a significant opening song, and probably one of the best on the album. With it's sweeping sequences, rapid guitar runs, and catchy vocal lines, it may also be the most accessible. “Embrace the Galaxy” and “Requiem for a Dream” are the other most noteworthy tracks. The instrumental songs on this album have mixed results. “The House with a Hundred Windows” seems to me to be a ripoff of Dream Theater's “Ytse Jam” (at least the first section), and I can't be the first person who has noticed this. The lack of vocals find the song winding itself up into a neo-classical mess of sorts. Impressive work, but not terribly memorable (at least not the part that they wrote themselves) "The House with a Hundred Windows" falls into instrumental wankery, which most of the album is able to mercifully avoid. “A Perfect Day” on the other hand, is a short, beautiful instrumental piece that has a very calming and serene effect on me every time.
I'd like to make special mention of Nils Patrick Johansson's vocals on this album. Nowhere else does his voice sound so distinctive to me (with his cries of “nyaaah!”), and he really puts the spirit in this album and raises it above the level of mediocrity, making it remarkable. Some have said this album is totally devoid of originality, but I don't think that's true at all. Even if this isn't the most original piece of neo-classical power metal you ever hear, the vocals of Johansson ensure that it will remain unique.
A pretty solid recording all-around, and highly recommended to fans of Andersson's work, as I think it's his best to date. I'm looking forward to hearing the newer efforts by this project again!
The Protagonist's Rating: 7.5 out of 10