Having released two very good melodic and memorable metal albums (the chorus of 'Rise' from their 2011 debut full-length still sticks to my brain), Artizan are back with a third effort in the form of a futuristic sci-fi album called "The Furthest Reaches".
This time around, the music is, while still as melodic and accessible as always, slightly darker in tone, as reflected in the cello-based intro of the title track - which by the way is super epic and quite progressive. In fact, the Floridan band really seems to have embraced epicness this time, and that is a smart move, because, of course sci-fi narratives about spaceships and supernovas should be epic. 'Hopeful Eyes' is a nicely melodic and epic affair with massive vocals and melody galore, and there is even a wee touch of Thin Lizzy in the form of some sweet twin guitar harmonies. The heavy 'The Cleansing' is another dark track which open with an ominous evil laughter and then takes on an almost Solitude Aeturnus-esque epic doom metal-like character. The following track is strangely uptempo and melancholic at the same time, while 'Supernova' combines a sense of apocalyptic aggression with soaring vocals and 'Into the Sun' concludes the album on a musically uplifting note (and pays homage to Randy Rhoads in the process).
The songwriting on this album is of very high quality, as the band manages to combine hard rocking metal with melody and sophistication without every gong over the top. The performance is also very solid, with Ty Tammeus' clockwork drumming meshing in well with the melodic guitars, driving bass and Tom Brady's crystal clear singing voice. With guest performances by Matt Barlow and Sabrina Cruz, this album should be attractive to power metal aficionados. While this album does not contain a song as memorable as 'Rise', it does overall have a slight edge over the two preceding albums which, as mentioned, are already very good. I think one factor here is that the production on "The Furthest Reaches" is a bit better.
In conclusion, this is another bull's eye from one of Florida's best melodic meta bands, and fans of both traditional metal and power metal, as well as progressive metal, should definitely check it out. - 4.5/5
I’ll be the first to admit that power metal is not really my thing. I mean, I like Maiden and Priest as much as the next metalhead, but the vast majority of power metal bands have always seemed like third rate clones to me. The vocals are always what really does it for me. It’s extremely hard to sing in such a soaring and majestic style without coming off cheesy and corny and only a precious few can pull it off well. I usually kind of dread reviewing albums like this because it’s not really all that fair to the band due to my natural bias against the style. I was intrigued, however, when I discovered that The Furthest Reaches from Jacksonville, FL’s Artizan was a concept record – a metal opera, if you will. The sci-fi theme about an alien race coming to Earth after receiving a distress call got my inner nerd all excited. Maybe it’s my own background as a prog rocker, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart and a great respect for bands who try to pull this kind of thing off. It takes a lot of balls and a lot of dedication to actually go through the whole process of creating the concept and sticking to it over the course of an entire album. So, it was with equal parts trepidation and excitement that I hit play on this one. It opens with a spoken word part where a child is asking his mother to tell him a story and as the mother begins to read the band kicks into the first track “Summon the Gods” and I gotta say, I was instantly impressed. The music is powerful and expertly executed, the production (courtesy of the infamous Jim Morris) is audio perfection defined, and damnit if I don’t actually like Tom Braden’s vocals. He reminds me of a cross between Bruce Dickinson, James LaBrie of Dream Theater, and Geoff Tate of Queensryche. His timing, pitch, and tempo are always on point and he sings with passion and intensity without ever falling off the cliff into the ocean of cheese. The album as a whole comes off as cohesive and each track naturally leads into the next as the band weaves music and story together expertly. From powerful riff burners like “Summon the Gods”, to epics like the title track, to majestic power ballads like “Wardens of the New World”, Artizan succeeds at every turn. The musicianship of guitarists Shamus McConney and Bill Staley, bassist Jonathan Jennings, and drummer Ty Tammeus is magnificent. Staley particularly shines in the lead work on the track “Supernova” – his incendiary lines really take the track to the next level and are one of the high points of the disc. But, the shining star of this album is most definitely the vocals of Tom Braden. He really carries the weight of pulling this concept piece off well and delivers one perfect performance after another. If a power metal band can impress this writer then you can rest assured that it’s a damn good one.
Some bands are just destined to out do themselves, to continue to challenge themselves and aspire to greatness. Florida's Artizan is one of those bands, and The Furthest Reaches, their third album, bears witness to these things. It's simply a superb piece of classic melodic power metal. But I'm a fan, so expect a smidgen of bias in this review.
There's much to like about this album. One, it's concept album, a sci-fi story. Heavy metal and sci-fi, you say? They go together like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, fish and chips ... well, you get the idea (and I'm getting hungry). This hook up will give the metal nerds out there an instant boner. But I digress. The story has something to do with an alien race coming to Earth after being summoned by a distress call. And if I understand correctly, we are totally screwed, like war of the machines f-ed up.
But on to the tunes. I've already given away Artizan's style in the first paragraph. The heart and soul of the band is fundamental melodic metal. The band, rightfully so, is big on harmony and melody, from the twin guitar harmony to the vocal arrangements. And Tom Braden has to be one of the best pure metal vocalists this side of the Atlantic. His range and control are, well, simply stunning. While outstanding throughout, the strength and panorama of his voice are especially awesome within The Furthest Reaches and Wardens of the World (with an assist from Sabrina Cruz of Seven Kingdoms). Underneath all this, drummer Ty Tammeus and bass player Jonathan Jennings keep the rhythm and movement of the songs tight and perfectly paced.
A few final comments on the album. First, Tammeus is one fine drummer, and his skills are self-evident across this album. Yet his rhythm and especially his tone are the undeniable "x-factors" that makes him sound so good. Check out Hopeful Eyes or the opening and continuing drum line of Supernova. Second, Artizan has also had, over the course of albums, a touch of progressive metal up their sleeves. You get a good taste of that once more with the title track, which also incorporates a strong symphonic line. For those of us who are lead guitar geeks, there's bunches upon bunches of fret fireworks all over this album. Also, the production is pristine and precise, in the very best sense, and I'm not talking about auto-tuning bullshit. Finally, continuing with their sci-fi theme, Artizan covers Styx's Come Sail Away in fine fashion, with Braden's vocals leading the way.
To conclude, I merely repeat myself: Artizan's The Furthest Reaches is simply a superb piece of classic melodic power metal, something that should be in your collection. Strongly recommended. (Like, go buy it now.) - 5.0/5.0
Reviews for The Furthest Reaches
Our whole existence's goal, is finally about learning and growing, and repairing our errors when it is possible is one of our privilege… I felt that I was a little unfair with my review for ARTIZAN “Ancestral Energy” two years ago, even if I discerned back then some obvious qualities notably in the vocal department, my first view wasn't totally correct. I had learn only with a later coming conscience, a new way to perceive and the right process to really appreciate their music and to understand it in its fullness, the disc finally has ends up in the quite high ranks in my final top of 2013.Today I’m glad and happy to examine their new masterpiece and third full length work namely “The Furthest Reaches” that will be published on 24th April 2015 via Pure Steel Records, the band is now a quintet and their very unique identity is once again in a shining display, their classy sound is running brilliantly across the forty eight minutes of this recommended release!This time, I know with a perfect accuracy the delicacy of their Melodic method (“Hopeful Eyes”), it reveals also some intricate harmonic arrangements (“The Cleansing”)… Musically the thick schema of Heaviness is more evident than before, straight and more dramatic in the ambiances (“Supernova”), while the smartness and the complex shape of their creative ways are in a prominent light !Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, ARTIZAN was founded in 2008 by two ex LEVIATHAN members namely the superb vocalist Tom Braden and drummer Ty Tammeus (ex PROJECT X). Their early self-titled ep in 2009 was a great start followed in 2011 by their debut album, “Curse Of The Artizan” and in 2013, ARTIZAN unleash the aforementioned second full-length album "Ancestral Energy" under their new collaboration contract with Germany’s finest Pure Steel Records.ARTIZAN is set for their third release “The Furthest Reaches”, their sonic sphere is still the same, some fine musicianship and some pretty well arranged/hand crafted cuts, wonderfully uplifted by sharing some subtle progressive manners, under an epic sci-fi concept, the album tells the story of a feconds Alien race returning to Earth after a distress signal was sent into space.This is another brilliantly executed piece of Celestial Metal artistry, with the same amount of American and European ingredients, wrapped in the terrestrial form of a silver platter. This disc is very well written, with some incredible talented ideas and utmost skills in every area, the great tradition of the Guest appearances is another treat for us, the performance from Matt Barlow (ex ICED EARTH / ex PYRAMAZE / ASHES TO ARES) and for the first time the SEVEN KINGDOMS frontwoman Sabrina Cruz (in the long epic “Wardens Of The New World”) are another interesting and are among the details that sublimate this whole successful recording experiment.“The Furthest Reaches” expands its qualities in a precise clever way and once again, the legendary producer Jim Morris(KAMELOT/CRIMSON GLORY/SAVATAGE/JAG PANZER) applies his knob wizardry behind the mixing desk, ensuring a sonic experience of the highest quality with a Top notch production.The album will be available as normal and limited edition with different cover artworks both are superb and this attention to those particular details is another proof of the excellency of their artistic spirit. The limited edition will contain additionally the bonus track“Come Sail Away”: A beautiful emotional song…With this new opus, ARTIZAN reaches the opportunity to confirm its status toward the Prog Metal experts but also to expand its credibility to the whole of the Metallic scene.This time my picky mind and my excessive perfectionism won’t detracts me to enjoy this flawless disc, that I would like to recommend to my fellows fans of old HEIR APPARENT or LEVIATHAN, they slightly changed their sound for the better,like an updated/modernized version of their Progressive Power Metal (“Into The Sun”)… This new and evolved style and their capacity to regenerate themselves is clearly the demonstration of their strong potential. - 9/10
Ambition, drive, and purpose fuel artists to unforeseen new horizons. In a risk/reward model, many musicians in heavy metal once established wrestle with meeting expectations of your burgeoning following but also satisfying and sustaining their very own desires in the songs that they put out. Thankfully, Florida power/progressive metal act Artizan believes the time is right in their career to deliver an ambitious sci-fi concept album in their third studio offering The Furthest Reaches– which lyrically and musically pushes the quintet to heights rarely attained in the genre for adventurous, intelligent, and thought provoking discussions.
The story in capsule form involves an alien race returning to Earth after a distress signal is sent into space – inspiration coming from authors like Arthur Clarke, Carl Sagan, and the Alien movie saga. Three short narrative segments appear at various points of the album – as the seven full songs contain a wide tapestry of melodic power metal that can be quite heavy at times, while also reaching into progressive territory. Vocalist Tom Braden is a special breed – channeling his multi-octave range and note holding abilities like the greatest singers of the genre. You will think Alder, Dio, Dickinson, and Tate at various times from the striking burst “Summoning the Gods” to the rhythmically mid-tempo marching “Supernova”, always conscious of injecting hooks and proper phrasing through his melody choices.
Guitarists Shamus McConney and Bill Staley lay down a bevy of thick power chords and harmonic tricks to tie these songs together seamlessly. A host of images come to the forefront on “Hopeful Eyes” and “Into the Sun” from Iron Maiden to Thin Lizzy, Randy Rhoads and even a little bit of Crimson Glory in terms of their dual attack and shifting gears from measure to measure. The rhythm section of bassist Jonathan Jennings and drummer Ty Tammeus showcases their chops in the nine minute plus title cut, starting off very doomy and then at the 2:30 mark transforming into this magical, progressive journey.
Add in the fabulous contributions from Seven Kingdoms’ vocalist Sabrina Cruz for “Wardens of the New World” (truly a performance for the ages) and ex-Iced Earth/Ashes of Ares singer Matt Barlow for the vicious “The Cleansing” plus eye-popping artwork from Marc Sasso (standard version) or Eliran Kantor (limited edition with Styx “Come Sail Away” as bonus track) and you have a record that rivals possibly the standard benchmark metal concept album of all time, Operation: Mindcrime.
Recorded again under the expert mind of Jim Morris (Iced Earth, Crimson Glory), Artizan have offered a record that should appease every traditional, power, or progressive metal follower. With hundreds of releases coming down the pike every month, rare is the time when an album can be the gold standard that other musicians should use to strive for more in their art and output. The Furthest Reaches will be appreciated beyond the moment for all eternity. - 9.5/10
Quietly and as often happens, unfortunately, largely without success, to have Artizan blossomed into one of the best US Metal bands of our time. The guys from Florida to operate unobtrusively but nonetheless enthralling those followers, which early Fates Warning , Queensryche , Crimson Glory , Lethal , Jacobs Dreamor Shadowkeep , but also the European Artch and naturally Maiden have always brought satisfying moments.Your tender debut, "The Curse Of The Artisan" is today one of the least intrusive acts progressively tinged US Metals, the now third album "The Furthest Reaches" sets the unwavering path consistently and fortunately also a trace of mandatory continuing, as it would be good predecessor "Ancestral Energy" could create. Artizan present with their new album and their perhaps most compact songdienlichstes work. The sometimes irresistible melodies that subtle moments of progressive art and yet highly catchy pace of the songs is, in places, almost irresistible. The Amis delicate, melodic, sometimes epic, yet a trace act more aggressively than before. The guitar runs are an absolute delight, whether in the melodic range in the liquid harmonies or riffing. The vocals of Tom Braden is distinctive as ever and set to music the sci-fi concept of"The Furthes Reaches" congenial. To call special highlights, does each of charismatic songs wrong this album. Who after these words but should still be undecided, the is the melodic "Hopeful Eyes" , the epic title track, the somber "The Cleansing" or the beautiful "Supernova" applied to heart. The cameos from Matt Barlow and Sabrina Cruz are as well only a bonus, as the crisp and to the point nostalgic kind Jim Morris production. "The Furthest Reaches" is a thoroughly enjoyable and charming US Metal gem one of the best genre bands of our time , on top of that really beautifully packaged and in its limited edition with a fantastic cover of Styx rhythm songs "Come Sail Away" really irresistible! At least for those people who worship aforementioned bands as deep as I care for it to take a quarter of a century since now... - 8.5/10
(Translated from German)
Artizan are back and show the competition once again how to do it right. Three panels, three direct hits. Point. A more words you need not lose this ingenious conglomerate from sunny Florida. I still thought that the creative zenith of the band had already reached their final, the second album "Ancestral Energy", so I have to revise my opinion. I tip my hat. The third album "The Furthest Reaches" drives the inclined (Progressive) -US-metal fan, the tears of joy in his eyes.
Long one could no longer be so covered with an album like this year the Artisan-third Ling. A sci-fi story concept and sophisticated compositions make it possible. Who remembers the glory days of IRON MAIDEN or Queensryche and also appreciate "Transcendence" of CRIMSON GLORY know should plan a detour to the record store tomorrow. Alone the unearthly vocal performance by Tom Braden is buying the disc worth. That is not to say that some musicians his skill sets over the other here. Artizan function as a collective that knows its strengths and it plays out exactly. But the two guest musicians Matt Barlow (Ashes of Ares, ex-ICED EARTH) and Sabrina Cruz (Seven Kingdoms) fit into the sound, as it would have been a part of the band over the entire time of the songwriting process, what is among other things wonderful can simultaneously hear at "Wardens Of The New World". The number is in terms of tension, great melodies, crunchy riffs and goose bumps exemplifies the quality of the album. Nevertheless, there is a stand-out difference to its predecessor: artizan put more emphasis on progressive song structures, which has two advantages for "The Furthest Reaches". On the one hand you have to put even more intense with the music of the Americans apart, which is the necessary quality compared to only right and proper. On the other hand you can with the album but also wonderfully catapulted out of this fast paced and at least get away from a narrow three-quarter of an hour everyday at the highest level.
The "Thinking-Men's-Metal" invent artizan not new. But they sound fresh, unused and are also audible motivated to the hair ends. I hope that the band has the opportunity to tour with one of the great acts to be able to collect as many new fans to. They would have deserved it in any case. And now scurrying to the CD dealer of your trust - "The Furthest Reaches" deserves a place of honor in every collection. - 9/10
I have been following Jacksonville, Florida’s Artizan since their 2009 self-titled EP. The band is now set to release their third full-length on Pure Steel Records titled THE FURTHEST REACHES. Having added another guitar player in Bill Staley, THE FURTHEST REACHES is a conceptual metal opera that involves an alien race visiting earth after receiving a distress signal in space. The band’s growth and ambition are apparent, as Artizan continues to employ progressive, melodic and classic metal into a style that is uniquely their own.
THE FURTHEST REACHES is unquestionably the band’s heaviest album thus far, with “Summon The Gods” leading the way with its piston-like opening intro. Tom Braden’s vocals continue to be clear, confident, and relaxed as he wields his way through this often progressive, melodic story. The songs are carefully crafted and arranged, while containing a great deal of variety. Witness “The Cleansing” with its dark foreboding entry setting the stage for a guest appearance from Matt Barlow (ex Iced Earth) playing the role of The Keepers. Sabrina Cruz (Seven Kingdoms) handles the lion’s share of the vocals on the signature track “Wardens Of The New World.” It is a testament to the strength and writing of the songs that Cruz fits so perfectly, and for one brief moment Artizan feels like a new but equally impressive band.
Musically, drummer Ty Tammeus continues to be rock solid, but it is the complimentary thump of bassist Jonathan Jennings that really stands apart on this album, receiving prominent placement in the mix. The guitar work continues to be a balanced combination of melody and riff, in a word: economical. This tandem does not waste notes and avoids overplaying. Once again Artrizan has wisely enlisted Jim Morrison to handle production duties, the result being what I would consider to be the band’s best sounding album.
The album ends in grand fashion on the track “Into The Sun”, which vies with “Wardens Of The New World” for best song on the album. The limited edition of the album concludes instead with a bonus cover of Styx’s “Come Sail Away”, which Braden nails with faithful perfection. I have always felt that the opening half of the original song was anemic, and unfortunately the band does nothing to strengthen or imbue this part with heaviness. As covers go though, it is a meticulously crafted and unswerving rendering of the original that fits the band’s personality, but never strays too far Styx’s version. All told, Artizan continues to impress and build upon an admirable catalog, and any fan of progressive and classic metal should welcome the new release. - 4.5/5.0
(Translated from German)
Already AEROSMITH it knew the beginning of the 90s: ". There's something wrong with the world today, I do not know what it is" ("Living On The Edge") Because there is in Florida one of the best melodic US Metal Bands - and hardly any cares. Whether a US tour with FATES WARNING or the new, third album, "The Furthest Reaches": The band needs to collect money with Indigogo campaigns prior to the descendants to what musicians do just so: go on tour or record a new album.
And in the case of "The Furthest Reaches" one can only say: The band is undisputed her previous career highlight succeeded. At the basic style of the band has changed little: US Metal meets as unobtrusive as irresistible melodies and subtle progressive elements. Biggest change is the compression in the area of guitars: Compared with its predecessors, "Curse Of The Artizan" and "Ancestral Energy" the six strings have taken too much space, act more diverse, sometimes aggressive. The degenerates, however, second to none in wild Rifforgien or Sinnbefreites Geshredder out, but is conducive to song every second, also to recognize the melody as the basis of every action.
"The Furthes Reaches" is conceived as a concept album that tells a science fiction story; However artizanlargely dispense it to stretch with escalating Interludes time: In addition to the seven (limited version: eight) songs, there is only an intro and two intermediate pieces that serve the narrative flow of the story - roughly outlined is about an alien race on the way to Earth.
The musical quality, place the Artisan doing that day, stunned: The Florida Boys have a knack for melodies that are catchy, but not cheesy - just listen to "Hopeful Eyes", "The Cleansing" (again with Ex-ICED- EARTH frontman Matt Barlow as a guest) or a fortiori "Supernova", which could be all sprung from the textbook for unemotional melodies. With the almost nine and a half minutes long title track or with guest vocalist Sabrina Cruz (Seven Kingdoms) upgraded Siebenminüter "Wardens Of The New World" prove artizan that also epic and highly varied songs belong to their easiest tasks.
That singer Tom Braden is one of the best in his field, he proves again and again, has also vocally oriented a bit away from Joacim Cans (HAMMERFALL) and for a little more on slightly rougher timbre of Bruce Dickinson - and fits one hand, perfect for accented drumming of Ty Tammeus who is close in terms of rhythm Nicko McBrain, on the other, to the songs that pay tribute next to the roots in the US Metal evenly also IRON MAIDEN in an appropriate manner.
CONCLUSION: Hello world, out there, there is a band that has fucking deserves your attention artizan are a must for anyone who has anchored his taste buds between IRON MAIDEN, Queensryche, early-90s-FATES WARNING or CRIMSON GLORY stylish.. By the way. [Worth the handle to limited version that has to offer a simply stunning cover version of STYX songs with "Come Sail Away" - 13/15
(Translated from Austrian)
Artizan from Florida to beat at "The Furthest Reaches" a slightly different direction than before. Their third release is not a "normal" or "simple" album, but a science-fiction concept album. It tells of the return of an alien race to Earth after a distress signal was sent into space.
The five musicians show one hand what they previously constituted, on the other hand they have become harder and more progressive in "The Furthest Reaches". The style is wider - on the one hand and Progressive Metal, on the other hand a lot of melodic, with the times in the direction of Melodic Power Metal is, but then sometimes even towards Symphonic or a little Gothic (the part of a singer).
In addition to singer Tom Braden, there are also guests: Sabrina Cruz of Seven Kingdoms takes in a song the role of "Mother Earth", also included Matt Barlow of Ashes of Ares.
From the album there are the normal and a limited version. These different cover art are available and the limited edition includes the bonus track "Come Sail Away". A piece that begins with beautiful vocals and piano and remains soft and soft up to half. However, the end, however, has power and impressive levels with the use of all instruments
What's so special about the album -> There is a story. The story goes from the first song to the end and builds a tension on.
That is on the one hand expressed by the call mother - son when it comes to what bedtime story to it (namely children story more) or where they talk about why the father is no longer there.
On the other hand, the lyrics are consistent and complex in all songs. It's about the danger to the world, to Mother Earth, to opportunities to dreams, to break up to the worlds, to the end of worlds through a supernova to the back-bends, re-find and protect her.
This content is expressed in a diverse songwriting. The melodies and rhythms change, the pieces are long and show variety in melody and rhythm and the vocals. On the one hand is the difference from song to song, on the other hand within a song. Never the Melodious comes too short, especially on polyphonic vocals high value is placed.
The songs are based largely on Power Metal, but individual pieces, such as my personal favorite "The Furthest Reaches", show a playfulness that starts with symphonic elements such as strings and orchestra, then with almost bombastic bond inflicts the metal, in the middle part to acoustic swivels to allow the resurgent strings longer hearing, and finally ends with a power use.
After the title track follows with "The Cleansing" a completely different composition. The combination of acoustic parts with diabolical laughter or diabolical voice and the sombre dark bass who willfully sets the pace and dominated the song, produced almost goosebumps. The whole thing is mitigated by the clear voice, so to speak, to express the purification. In between underline another chant and the backing vocals, the reciprocating cunning and transitions.
In principle one can analyze and consider each song in the depth. Every piece has something special for which it stands and by convincing it. That would but a little beyond the scope. Only "Wardens of The New World" I would like to highlight. This song is definitely one of the best on the album, with great guitars (both acoustic and Lead), evocative and varied melodies and Sabrina Cruz sung with devotion Parts as "Mother Earth".
"The Furthest Reaches" is not necessarily an easy album that you simply purely stretches way, but a work that should be listened consciously to mitzubekommen all the diversity that it has to offer. The concept is musically interesting, very well done and well able to please not only metal fans, but to reach a wider audience and other genre-lovers. - 4.5/50
By: Michael Wuensch
Something you quickly learn as a devoted music enthusiast is the fact that there really should be no lines drawn in the sand when it comes to appreciating the things that resonate with us. Just because someone pokes fun at “Come Sail Away” for being ‘dad rock’ doesn’t mean you should feel ashamed about it tugging at your strings. There are no guilty pleasures.
Following this edict will open yourself to a level of deranged joy previously unimaginable, shining a glorious spotlight on a wide array of unique discoveries, such as the parallel mood shared between the opening moments of “The Living Years” and Burzum’s “Tomhet.” Bless you, Mike and the Mechanics. Bless you to Hell.
“We have such sights to show you...” ~ Pinhead
Naturally, talk such as this essentially equates to one thing in the realm of heavy metal: Another exciting journey into...
Amen, you scurvied hosebags. Put another notch in heavy metal’s belt for the clean-singing heroes. And I might as well over-emphasize that “clean-singing” bit right off the bat, because you will run away yipping like a yorkie with burning nuts if you’re one of those types who doesn’t mesh well with an unblemished voice that soars through sci-fi adventures in a particularly lustrous manner. Tom Braden has the smoothest of smooth voices – something that’s more comparable to the Dennis DeYoungs or Tommy Shaws of the world, as opposed to the gravelly approach of someone like Nils Patrik Johansson. He’s justly spotlighted throughout The Furthest Reaches’ fifty minutes, but notable peaks hit throughout the infectious “Hopeful Eyes,” and when his polished delivery floats alongside a guest appearance from Sabrina Cruz (Seven Kingdoms) throughout “Wardens of the New World.”
Braden’s fluid refinement aside, what’s particularly satisfying about Artizan on a personal level is the fact that I’ve witnessed the band’s progression basically from day one, and full-length #3 does an impressive job of showcasing a unit that’s fully secured their own niche within the recently burgeoning U.S. power metal scene. Instead of the prevailing Blind Guardian blueprint, Artizan opts for a more progressive crux that’s ripped from the pages of bands such as Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, or Threshold. Just listen to the way the lengthy title track navigates light orchestration, a satisfyingly weighty riff (2:15), and the exquisite acoustic play around its half-way point – that’s some clear Jim Matheos-inspired writing there, and it's a very fitting model for a band that pushes an epic sci-fi adventure angle as hard as these Floridians push it.
Where Artizan has improved the most, however, is in their collective decision to further illuminate the value of 1) enticing lead guitars, and 2) that most dynamic of duos: The riff & heft. Point one is managed as a result of adding a permanent new member, guitarist Bill Staley. Melodic bursts fire all over The Furthest Reaches, but the fantastic “Hopeful Eyes” is exceptionally satisfying in terms of melody, and it also flashes one of the album’s most infectious examples of point #2 just before the 2-minute mark – one of those moments that requires an immediate rewind, and one that also confirms the fact that Artizan has identified the fundamental code necessary for executing a Holy Shit Riff. I’d call it the best on the record, but I don’t even know how to begin clarifying how much I love the sassy lick that kicks off the closing “Into the Sun.” Jake E. Lee would trade a hundred pairs of stretch-leather pants for that riff.
The additional priority given to heft also helps The Furthest Reaches. In the past, much of Artizan’s weight relied on the heavy hitting style of drummer Ty Tammeus, and while he still hits the skins like a hostage depends on it, there are plenty of instances where the guitars are crucial to a song's overall heaviness. Also commendable is the fact that, unlike many of their European counterparts, Artizan delivers density in a way that’s modern, but not “djenty,” leaving the heavier parts feeling more Jag Panzer than Meshuggah.
The only gripe I can muster has to do with the three interludes used to help guide the storyline. Honestly, the use of actors in this manner really isn’t all that necessary, particularly considering the fact that it adds less than 2-minutes to the overall album. Plus, the poor kid playing the child needs a red bull. Or maybe they could’ve used a Sour Patch Kids bribe to coax a little added enthusiasm. Kids will mow a flaming lawn with a pair of safety scissors for some Sour Patch Kids.
Obviously this sort of record ain’t exactly intended for all audiences. People who can't hang with power metal will go right on hating it, and there’s always a likelihood that someone will blow into the conversation with some terribly clever quip along the lines of “these guys look like the IT Department where I work.” You know what, yeah, maybe they do, but so will you once the realization sets in that the ambient crust collective you play in doesn’t exactly bring home enough bacon to cover that VW GTI payment. Big fucking deal.
If smart, melodic, pleasurable power/progressive metal is the sort of thing that lands in your wheelhouse – and oh my LORD, it’s okay for heavy metal to sound pleasurable – you should give The Furthest Reaches your attention. Artizan's continued upward swing in momentum has secured the band a cozy corner within the current US scene, and it'll be very interesting to hear where they plan on leading listeners next.
Oh, and a cover of "Come Sail Away" is offered as a bonus track on the limited edition release. BOOM. Full circle.
By Chris Martin
Artizan are a band I have been fond of since their first album in 2011. Masterminded by drummer Ty Tammeus, they blazed a trail on the melodic power metal world with a truly impactful mark on an oftentimes droll and repetitive genre. I’ve said it before, and will keep saying, there are some amazing bands on the power metal scene, but there are an equal amount of bands that are so derivative I find it tough to enjoy most of them. I have never had that issue with Artizan. Something about their music instantly spoke to me from their debut Curse of the Artizan to their most recent offering The Furthest Reaches. As much as I enjoyed their previous two albums, this new one is the one that truly finds the band in their element as they deliver the best album they have done so far.
A Sci-Fi concept album set as a story read by a mother to a curious child telling about an alien race returning to Earth after a distress signal was sent out. I love concept albums, but these days it’s been tough for me to find one I can connect with. Frankly, most concepts tend to be overshot and ridiculous. One of the things I have been most critical of has been those albums that rely on spoken word pieces interspersed throughout. Magica for instance from the late metal master Ronnie James Dio is probably one of his best albums (for sure in his later career,) but for some reason I found the spoken interludes to be a drag on the amazing music. Lucky for Artizan, this album doesn’t fall into that trapping. There are those moments, but I feel like they flow better than Dio was able to make happen, much like another brilliant metal conceptual piece, Operation: Mindcrime, the best album of its type in my estimation. There are many moments here on The Furthest Reaches that gave me the same feelings I did way back when I first heard OMC. That is saying a lot as that album has remained in my top 5 favorite albums of all-time since its release. For starters, this album is packed with some incredible songwriting, at a level not as prevalent as I have heard in a band in quite some time. Tracks like “Wardens of the New World” (with a brilliant vocal provided by Sabrina Cruz of Seven Kingdoms,) “The Cleansing” (which features a fantastic performance from Matt Barlow of Ashes to Ares and ex-Iced Earth,) “Coming of Age,” “Supernova,” and “Into the Sun” not only tell the story, but are also excellent stand-alone tracks, much like the aforementioned OMC (frankly, I feel that way about almost every track on here.) The twin guitar attack of Bill Staley and Shamus McConney are as intricate, powerful and beautiful as some of the great dual guitar bands. Tammeus continues to show that he is one of the best drummers in the metal world these days, and locks right in with bassist Jonathan Jennings. Topped with the tremendous voice of Tom Braden, Artizan delivers not only the best album of their career, but likely the best album of the year as far as I’m concerned.
There are so many elements to The Furthest Reaches that instantly appealed to me on first listen, and there was so much more with each additional spin. If you get the deluxe version, you are treated to an incredible cover of the Styx classic “Come Sail Away.” As a huge fan of Styx I rarely hear bands covering their music, and there is no better band qualified to do it than Artizan. Not to mention that lyrically the song fits perfectly with the story of the album. This band’s existence brings me great joy, as their music sets a standard many bands miss. Most of the time when a band releases an album this strong I worry that they may fall short in the future, but I don’t have that fear with them. They are too good not to continue to deliver more amazing music down the road.