Friday, August 27, 2010

Timeless Miracle - Into the Enchanted Chamber

The Ballad of Gary

When I was a young lad, growing up in the backwoods of the suburbs of Chicago, I had a friend named Gary. Gary was a spunky young boy, energetic and vibrant, yet still extremely smart. Gary had a future ahead of him, a future much brighter than the gelatinous entity that my soul resides inside of that spends all of its free time critiquing metal albums on the internet. One day, not long after puberty, Gary's birthday rolled around. I figured that I owed my best friend a birthday present, and I remembered that he had a somewhat bizarre taste for the dark, macabre, and mystical. Perusing through the local record store, I came across a dark album cover in the metal section. It featured a decaying forest, the stone bust of a snarling werewolf, a shining entrance to a forbidden tomb, and a large clock that was apparently crafted by a dyslexic triple amputee. I said to myself "Gee golly jeepers! This is just the kind of mysticism that Gary is into! How picture perfect for me to conveniently stumble across an obscure metal release in a record store in Aurora! Wayne's World lied, Aurora is actually a fucking scumhole, but hey, they apparently sell Scandinavian metal here!". I wrapped the CD in tin foil (just to show how metal I was), and handed it to him at his birthday party. He opened the package and lit up with glee. He ran to the stereo to listen to his new, dark, mysterious album. Fifteen seconds into the first song, he began foaming at the mouth, convulsing, and bleeding from the eyes. I dashed forward and caught his nearly lifeless body before it came crashing down. As my best friend died in my arms in a puddle of piss and drool, I raised my fist and futilely shouted to God "Why hath thou brought this upon this young angel?!".

I later learned that Gary was lactose intolerant, and the sheer cheese that saturated this album was enough to deliver a lethal, seizure inducing dose to a young boy with such a condition.

Now, despite the fact that this story is obviously false and chronologically makes as much sense as an inflatable dartboard, the moral stands; this is the hands down cheesiest album I've ever heard. Cheese is a hard thing to define in a musical context, but one can find almost no other description of this music. Seriously, listen to this fluffy, flowery album and think of a term to sum it all up. Chances are you thought of a term for molded old milk. And the strange thing is that Into the Enchanted Chamber is, on the whole, an enjoyable album. Sure, it's not the most original thing I've heard, nor is it the highest quality of flower metal I've heard, but there is just something about the unabashed, pop-influenced, and inoffensive music on this record that I cannot help but enjoy. Be it the bouncy keyboard parts, the happy-go-lucky vocals, catchy choruses, or the occasional excellent riff, very little can be described as shitty. The production is tighter than a four year old and the songwriting is solid.

The vocalist was the main component in my reasoning for my somewhat negative first draft submitted nearly a year ago, but I've come to somewhat adore the fact that he sounds like he's singing with a clothespin over his nostrils. It makes Timeless Miracle stand out among the sea of wailing falsettos that are nigh indiscernible from each other. I hear super flowery power metal and I couldn't tell you who it was if I was looking at the goddamn album cover, but as soon as I hear the allergy afflicted sounds of our bald headed castrato crooner, I jump with glee. His voice never fails to garner a grin from me, be it for the unintentional hilarity or the fact that he just sounds so happy and innocent, despite the fact that he's singing about dismembering children. Which brings me to the next facet that makes them unique, the lyrics. While a lot of flower metal bands are stuck in the fantasy rut involving fairies and goblins and elves and unicorns and reach arounds and all that jazz, Timeless Miracle sing graphic tales of werewolves disemboweling little girls and a man's last minutes before being strung up in the gallows. Pagan rituals, malicious spirits, conniving witches, escaping Hell, Into the Enchanted Chamber really breaks the stereotype when it comes to what poofy keyboard driven metal usually sing about.

Instrumentally, I don't really see anything worthy of knob slobbing, but I will say that the highlights of the album are easily the galloping riff patterns (Curse of the Werewolf, Down to the Gallows, Return of the Werewolf) and the bouncy and/or upbeat keyboard melodies (The Gates of Hell, Into the Enchanted Chamber). It seems like the band is always at their strongest when they quit pussyfooting with overlong epic bollocks and emotional ballads and just brazenly stampede into a riff monster or unabashedly glossy and poppish section. This means that I find The Voyage and Memories to be the weakest tracks here, but they don't detract too much from the overall experience. While the music itself is usually bordering between mediocre and decent, it is played competently enough and ends up somewhat arbitrary anyways because whenever the music gets boring, you find yourself focusing on the vocals, which make the music that much more fun.

If you have friends like Gary, don't be fooled like I was, this isn't anywhere near as dark as it seems at face value. Shit, this is pretty much like staring at Sirius. But unlike Helloween's much lauded abomination, The Dark Ride, Into the Enchanted Chamber doesn't pull any punches or feebly try and force out a darker side. It doesn't try to be anything that it isn't, and the innocence and happy-go-luckiness of the whole deal just makes any day brighter than it previously was. So this isn't the kind of metal you put on when you want to pump yourself up before a streetfight or something. It's more something you put on in the car on the way to an amusement park. Overall, my only complaint is that the slower and more emotional moments take away from the fun that I was having before they came and tried raining on my parade, but if one can look past these small blemishes, there lies a bafflingly fun and enjoyable record. Listen only if you can appreciate molten mozzarella over your tulips.

RATING - 91%

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