Richard IV – Whisper of Sin

Richard IV
Whisper of Sin

I went through a brief stage when progressive metal really got me excited. Queensryche had just released Empire, and I went on to discover Dream Theater. It was clearly metal, but it had feeling and emotion, and it went somewhere. The albums were full of epics, not just loud and angry songs. That may have been, however, the shortest music phase of my life. I grew out of it.
I’m not saying the love of that style of music is childish, but it’s a style that has very little appeal for me today. Queensryche and Dream Theater still have millions of fans, and they have inspired countless other fans to create epic, vast-sounding songs based around chugging guitar riffs and heavy production tricks. Richard IV – the musician and the band – sound like they’ve listened to a lot of that style of music.
I can still hear how this would be appealing – Richard IV’s music is undoubtedly catchy and inspiring, lofty songs inspired by metal’s power chords and rock’s song structures. But for all its gloss and sheen, and for all the talent the musicians may possess, this style of music still feels a little cheesy to me, a little too much like something that appeals to 16-year-old pimply kids who can feel better than their Iron Maiden and Metallica-loving friends.
That’s not to say this album is bad, per se. There’s some very nice guitar throughout, but that’s to be expected. What does shine throughout are the bits of unique experimentation. There’s some added effects to the vocals and guitars on the opener, “Scapegoat,” that are kind of cool. The use of cello helps add to the more acoustic-tinged “Becky,” and the mellow “Angel Awake” is really quite pretty, even if Richard’s voice goes a bit far in the whole rock-star emotive area. There’s a bit of a classical guitar flare to “Within the Dark,” and strings again fill out the song nicely. Even if it’s not particularly unique, “You Said ‘Love Me'” is well-done for its genre.
I pointed out the highlights, but it’s important to note that most of this album sounds like just another Dream Theater album: far too pretentious for its own good. This CD is long, with 13 songs, many over five minutes. It has the hefty feel of a prog-rock album. And while it’s most definitely not my bag, there’s no doubting the talent of Richard and his band. There’s a lot of powerful guitar and drumming on this album, creating something that’s quite powerful if a bit derivative of the genre.