I wouldn't say that this amazing duo's debut album came as a complete surprise. I did receive updates on it's progress now and then. Yet 'Dawn Of Ages' caught me somewhat unawares simply because I didn't pay enough attention to Messieurs Arduini and Balich's proceedings. No harm done though because the album is finally here and what an amazing recording it is. The brainchild of former Fates Warning/Freedoms Reign guitarist Victor Arduini as he was searching for more freedom to write and record what he really wants to. After bringing in Chris Judge from Freedoms Reign to lay down the drum tracks, the mighty Brian Balich from Argus on vocals entered the fray. And Arduini / Balich as we know it was born.
I love it when a new band takes conventionality and throws it out the window. Not following any genre-specific guidelines but instead doing exactly what they want, gives so much freedom and room to breathe. And that’s precisely what Arduini/Balich does. They are not reinventing the wheel per se, many of their influences are present. What they do is throw caution to the wind and play what they want and how they want to. I mean, 4 of the songs on ‘Dawn Of Ages’ are between 10 and 18 minutes which is daring at any time, no less on a debut. However, the music is so captivating, well-written and well-performed that I am lost in it immediately and even though it clocks in at almost 63 minutes, the album is over in no time.
What’s on offer here is a trip down memory lane for me. Why? Well Arduini/Balich bring to life a lot of the music I grew up listening to for starters. Good old heavy metal, progressive rock and doom with deep, dark soulful lyrics. Then add the band’s own ideas with their deft, elegant and amazing craftsmanship and a truly one of a kind groundbreaking album is here for the world to enjoy immensely. Can’t wrap my head around the pictures they paint and bring to life as the words and imagery sucks me into their realm. But I am not complaining because this is what I want music to do. It doesn’t matter if I can’t understand how it’s done, as long as it takes me away like this one does. I mean, check out any of the songs obviously but especially ‘The Fallen’, ‘Beyond The Barricade’ and ‘The Gates Of Archeron’ and you know what I’m talking about.
I do implore you, dear waveriders, to get the LP version. It’s a double LP with three bonus tracks. Those three are covers of Uriah Heep’s ‘Sunrise’, The Beau Brummels’ ‘Wolf Of Velvet Fortune’ and Black Sabbath’s ‘After All(The Dead)’.Arduini / Balich does a fantastic job with these compositions, making them sound like theirs but you still hear the original in there. The biggest surprise is ‘After All(The Dead)’.Black Sabbath has guided me through many, many years and Ronnie James Dio is by far one of the best singers ever, alive or dead. However, ‘Dehumanizer’ from where ‘After All(The Dead)’ is culled was a huge disappointment to me. But Messieurs Arduini and Balich has transformed the song into something else. Amazing!
Musically 2017 has started off fantastically well and Arduini / Balich are definitely leading the way. Can’t stress what an amazing recording they have composed which deserves and demands worldwide recognition. And since ‘Dawn Of Ages’ is their debut, who knows where they’ll take us next time. I, for one, will soak up this beauty while eagerly awaiting opus #2. Music like this can’t and mustn’t be ignored, you hear!