Empty Tremor - The Alien Inside - 2004
When I’m about to listen to bands like Empty Tremor, I always do it with some mistrust and skepticism because, at this stage, progressive metal is a terribly predictable and beaten genre; save a few interesting bands like Pain Of Salvation. If it’s true that Empty Tremor are not far away from the cliche, I must admit that I was expecting something much worse. Of course, they’ll remind you of Dream Theater, but they’re much better than the average italian metal band, and instrumentally they’re ready for intricated sections, unlike other bands which overcomplicate their songs unnecessarily and without the requested technical skills.
“The Alien Inside” opens the CD with almost ten minutes of good prog metal, well structured, powerful and sounding crystal clear. I must remark drummer Stefano Ruzzi’s work, a true italian Mike Portnoy. “I Found You” follows in a “Lifting Shadows Off A Dream” fashion, a surrounding and pleasing ballad. Power comes back with “A New World”, a classic heavy metal song full of great choruses and strong guitar riffs. “Who You Really Are” takes us back to progressive metal in an eight minute interesting piece filled with dynamic keyboards, which powerfully reminds me of Petrucci & Co. Oliver Hartmann’s voice is much more bearable than usual and eludes ridiculous histrionics. “Don’t Stop Me”, clocking at over nine minutes, opens with atmospheric and dark keys, to evolve into a quite reiterative song, strongly reminiscent of “Images And Words”.
There’s even the inevitable acoustic ballad, “Stay”, pleasing but really topical and unnecessary. Closing the album, two tracks that return to metallic-symphonic pirouettes, maybe quite reiterative at this stage of the CD; “The Love I’ve Never Had”, another eight minutes of riffs, solos and choruses occasionally embellished with technical details and, as an epilogue, the surrounding “The Alien Outside” (a predictable title), a sort of decadent and sinister march which closes the album in a majestic and grandiloquent way.
It must be admitted that this italian sextet is made of excellent musicians, but the CD lacks personality. As Dream Theater impersonators they’re probably the best I Know, but they’re nothing more than that: impersonators.