If there’s a favorite type of album of mine, it’s the concept album. Meshing and reprising common themes throughout an entire album has a way of making the entire experience more…transcendent. Couple that with the insane amount of work that goes into making a successful concept translate well, and it becomes impossible to not admire the brilliance of the artists who conjured it. Concepts can vary from having a few of the same musical aspects, to telling an entire complex fantasy story, and pretty much anything else in between. However, some artists will take concept albums to an extreme. Heirs of Isildur has done exactly this with their debut album, “The Crossroads Conundrum”.
It can be daunting enough to even decide to go for a concept album in the first place. Interweaving an entire album to something that is cohesive takes a lot of planning. Even more daunting, is releasing an eleven issue graphic novel that partners with the album. Yes, this album will have an entire graphic novel to go along with it. This band has gone above and beyond for the story they wish to tell, and the result is glorious. However, it’s one thing to discuss how complicated a concept can be, or how cool it is to have a partner comic to enjoy with your music. What is the actual album like?
“The Crossroads Conundrum” takes the listener through an epic journey. Powerful, open vocals weave around intense growls. Blast beats and high speed riffs give way to broad rhythms, only to launch you back to full speed again. Laying over all of this are some kick-ass keyboard licks that tie the entire feel of each track together. The truly amazing part of the musicianship of this band is the ability to continue to tell the story when the lyrics drop out. At no point does it feel as though you are waiting for the story to carry on during the instrumental breaks. Every voice has a hand in taking you through the complex universe being laid before you, and you never find yourself waiting for a song to get moving again.
Another fantastic thing about this album, is how easy it is to digest as a whole. Too often will bands interlace an abstract concept with odd meter changes, wildly complex rhythms, and awkward, dissonant scale patterns. While there are people who enjoy these things, myself included, it can be incredibly difficult for a band to feed that to their audience. Even when they have a loyal and solid following. “The Crossroads Conundrum” does have moments where these appear, but they are more of a dash of flavor than the actual meat of the album. It is meant to be enjoyed as a whole, but none of the tracks lose strength by being played on their own. This allows the album to have better ability to appeal to anyone, rather than those select artsy (dare I say hipster) few.
In all, this fresh band from Florida has come right out of the gate with an ambitious debut. Something that wouldn’t possible if they were not as dedicated, talented, and driven as they are. When “The Crossroads Conundrum” drops on December 1st, you will be blown away by how masterful this album is. Pre-order it now, along with the next issues of the novel. Take in every aspect of this amazing work of art from Heirs of Isildur.
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