German progressive metal strikes back. Well, well…for me, the perspective is, at first, terrifying. I imagine a new bunch of annoying topics, more well-intentioned musicians than virtuosos, and singers trying to hide their Bavarian accent. Poverty’s No Crime, at least until their last album, “One In A Million” (Inside Out, 2001), were not going to escape from this cruel description.
With “The Chemical Chaos”, Marco Ahrens’ band goes through a qualitative leap which, if not dazzling, it predicts a promising future. Escaping from topics before described, the German band offers a handful of quite pleasing songs. I think one of their most important pieces is Jörg Springub’s keyboard playing which, although not being particularly flashy, steps out of the Sherinian/ Rudess line which almost every prog- metal keyboardist has adopted as a trademark. Springub neither performs vertiginous solos nor uses raucous sounds, as he’s more concerned on textures and details, close to the darker Kevin Moore. The other players offer a good level but, for instance, Andreas “Theo” Tegeler’s drums needed a better sound and, mainly, Volker Walsemann’s voice lacks force and conviction in most parts of the CD, in spite of his good diction and pleasing pitch, which deserve better purposes.
Two first tracks, “Walk Into Nowhere” (6.33) and “Every Kind Of Life” (6.15) show the formula of the german band, closer to Enchant or Tiles than to Dream Theater, reducing their metallic tonnage and trying to find identifiable melodies, even if combining it with fat guitars and some technical bits on the rhythm section. “All Minds In One” (6.37) is more of the same, but on its second half the song takes a symphonic and atmospheric path, driven by an intense bass and some eerie sounds from the keys. “A World Without Me” (5.26) is what we would call the “ballad” of the album, in a more melodical vein; the introduction of this song is particularly surprising, with its pure 70’s sound. “Terminal Trip” (6.53) marks the first half of the CD, and is a good instrumental piece in a strong progressive metal fashion, which reminds me of “Logan 5”, from their previous album or, having mentioned Enchant, some instrumentals from Ted Leonard’s band like “Prognosis” or “Progtology”. Powerful and full of time signature changes; maybe quite trite, but very effective. The longest track on the album, “Pact With The Past” (8.58) is also one of the less accomplished. After its promising start, majestic and boastful, the melody loses strength and extends unnecessarily, although the band disguises it with technical tricks and some supposedly surprising Dream Theater-like time changes. The reference to Mike Portnoy’s band is evident on “Left To Chance” (4.43), a song that is a lot similar to “You Not Me” from “Falling Into Infinity” (1997). An average track, which repeats its limited values on “Moving Target” (6.16), a tiring song which suffers from Volker Walsemann’s unconvincing performance; anyway, there’s a good solo from guitarist Marco Ahrens at the end of the track.
To close, “Do What You Feel” (7.17), which recovers part of Poverty’s No Crime dignity on this album. There’s also a bonus track, an unplugged version of “Access Denied” (4.41), and it really doesn’t add much to “The Chemical Chaos”, as its natural conclusion is “Do What You Feel”, with aggressive sound and ominous keyboards to provide a convincing epilogue to an average but promising album.