Space Odyssey

Embrace the Galaxy

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Rather than delivering the space rock suggested by its title, Space Odyssey's Embrace the Galaxy contains not a single lyric about space, galaxies, or anything else beyond this blue sphere for that matter (ok, they mention "stars" once). In fact, neo-Classical metal anthems such as "Entering the Dome," "Grand Opening," and the title track sound almost exactly like Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force circa 1986 -- not exactly out of this world unless you consider Malmsteen's infinite ego, perhaps. Anyway, there could be many reasons for this sonic coincidence: not only is bassist Marcel Jacob an actual Rising Force alum, but guitarist Magnus Nilsson seems to have been directly cloned from Malmsteen DNA (now there's a terrifying prospect) -- such is the masturbatory nature of his lightning-fast, orgiastic guitar solos. Operatically gifted vocalist Patrik Johansson also evokes memories of any number of former Rising Force singers (especially Jeff Scott Soto), but his impressive bellowing most closely resembles Black Sabbath's Tony Martin here. As for the band's guiding force, keyboard wiz Richard Andersson -- aside from failing miserably in his quest at space exploration (see above) -- his performance is surely beyond technical reproach. Characterized by often jaw-dropping displays of digital dexterity, his solo runs sometimes push Space Odyssey into Dream Theater-like prog metal territory, but more often than not, they are entirely inspired by -- you guessed it -- Jens Johansson of Rising Force and Don Airey of Rainbow before him (sorry to keep harping on it, but it's that obvious). All of which makes this a very decent and even recommended slice of neo-Classical heavy metal, but a clear-cut case of false advertising for space rock enthusiasts.

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