I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Palantir, "Lost Between Dimensions"
Genre: Symphonic/Progressive Metal
Release: Stormspell Records, 2017
Before I dig into this review, I feel I must make a quick confession: I've always had a difficult time appreciating so-called "symphonic" heavy metal. Don't get me wrong, I greatly respect the amount of time, talent, expertise and instrumental dexterity that must go into creating such complex music, but on the other hand I don't think I have ever heard a symph-o-metal album that has truly blown me away. I dunno, I guess I just prefer my metal to be a bit more on the traditional "meat and potatoes" side, with a certain amount of grit and grime. Therefore, I'm probably not the best judge of what's "good" or "bad" when it comes to this slick, shiny, super melodic end of the metal scene.
With that caveat in mind, I will now turn my attention to Lost Between Dimensions by Palantir, a self-described "inter-dimensional symphonic power metal band" from Stockholm. This Swedish trio's debut was released in September 2017 via the retro-metal specialists at Stormspell Records.
The band's name comes from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (Him again? I already reviewed one Tolkien-obsessed combo this week -- Numenor's Chronicles, also from Stormspell!), where a "Palantir" is apparently some kind of crystal ball that allows beings to communicate with one another across vast distances. I guess that explains the comic-book style cover art, which shows some kind of hooded cosmic being watching a warrior through a glowing orb. Since I've never read a word of Tolkien, I'm just going to take Google Search's word for it.
(Trainspotters take note: that same Google search also revealed that there are two other "Palantir" bands out there. One is a black metal combo from Arkansas, USA, and the other is a one-man instrumental project from Germany, so buyer beware!)
Though Palantir is not the sort of thing that lands regularly on my musical plate, I have to admit that they've crafted some very well produced, spotlessly performed material here. Those of you who go nuts for the ultra-polished, epic Euro-power metal sound should definitely dig Lost Between Dimensions.
"War of the Worlds"
Lost Between Dimensions opens with the rousing "To Valhalla," which falls into a nice Blind Guardian-esque groove fairly quickly. Echoes of prime Michael Kiske-era Helloween are quite evident in "Escaping Reality," which gives vocalist Markus Sannefjord-Olkerud a chance to show off his impressive pipes.
"War of the Worlds" has some nice chunky guitar riffing and a suitably epic sounding chorus. In fact, the entire album has a very "big," cinematic feel to it, as if these guys were trying to create a soundtrack to a mega-budget science fiction/fantasy epic. "The Dark Crystal" provides a quick 45 seconds of quality guitar shred courtesy of Fredrik Erikson-Enochson (side note: these Swedish names are playing hell with my spell check!) before launching into the chug of "Revival," the heaviest track on the album thus far.
The battle between good and evil continues on "Warriors of the Sun," while "Tragicomedy" underlines the band's theatrical obsessions by comparing a person's life with a stage production. "Kings and Queens" has a nice groove, with swirling keyboards wrapping around a bed of muscular guitar riffs. The ten-minute title track closes the album and as you might expect, it's Palantir's most epic construction of all. The trio pulls out all the stops on this track, opening with some Savatage-esque plaintive piano and classical flourishes, then kicking into heavy, cosmic interstellar overdrive with sound effects and angelic choirs backing Olkerud on the huge multi-tracked choruses. On a side note, guitarist Enochson is credited with all of the bass, keyboards and "orchestration" on this album so I feel he deserves some extra props...the man's got serious skills!
"Lost Between Dimensions"
Summing it up
I enjoyed Lost Between Dimensions more than I'd initially expected when it first came across my desk. The album is a totally pro package all the way. I will probably never become a big time symph-metal head, but Palantir packed more than enough musical firepower to impress even my jaded ears.
Fans of the aforementioned Blind Guardian as well as their many epic-themed spiritual godchildren like Evergrey, Kamelot, Lost Horizon, Rhapsody of Fire or Nocturnal Rites should definitely check this album out. Support underground metal!