Almanac is the new project from former Rage guitarist Victor Smolski. Almanac might be considered symphonic metal but I really think they are very prog as well. Symphonic prog! What drew my interest to “Tsar” was that ex-Ivanhoe vocalist Andy B. Franck was part of this project. I love his voice so I was keen to hear how he would sound on this material.
Franck is joined by not one but TWO other vocalists which is usually a bad sign for me. I’m usually wary of the multi-vocalist approach because it seems to distract more than help. I prefer the continuity that one singer provides. But on “Tsar” it’s never an issue because Franck and David Readman sound similar enough. Female vocalist Jeannette Marchewka is used here and there but does a good job when called upon.
Another thing that I really love about this album is the guitar solos. To call them “flashy” is an understatement. Normally, I would say it’s more important for a solo to just suit the song but since the whole album is enormous, these guitar solos not only sound crazy as hell, they fit the songs too. While I am on it, the songs are all very well written. They have catchy choruses, strong melodies and tight arrangements.
The only somewhat throw away track is “Darkness” which is really more of a prelude to the next track “Hands are Tied.” That’s just nitpicking really. As much as I tried like hell to find fault with this album, there really aren’t many at all. Is it a little over the top? No it’s REALLY over the top but if you are going to release something epic, don’t go half way! “Tsar” is a grand, EPIC opening statement from Victor Smolski’s Almanac!
2. Self Blinded Eyes
4. Hands Are Tied
5. Children Of The Future
6. No More Shadows
8. Reign Of Madness
9. Flames Of Fate