Lux Terminus – “The Courage to Be”

Lux Terminus-The Courage to Be Album Art - smallFirst of all, I need to get it out in the open that I am a fan of  the multi-talented Vikram Shankar. Ever since I first saw that keyboard medley he did with a little Dream Theater and a little Haken, I was amazed. I have been following him ever since and have watched as new songs are released by bands and within an hour or so he has a piano cover video made and posted to YouTube. And sometimes that cover is better than the original. Heck… the dude even made a piano cover of Nightwish’s The Greatest Show on Earth. A 20 minute track. And yes, I watched the whole thing. And I guess I should mention here that Vikram is also now the keyboard player for the band Redemption. Yep. That Redemption.
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Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the album, shall we?

Lux Terminus, which is translated as “the light at the end”, is primarily an instrumental prog/fusion band made up of Vikram, who I think I mentioned already, and Matthew Kerschner on drums and Brian Craft on bass. All three of them shine on this release. They formed the band in 2016 and have been working on this album since, as well as playing some live dates.
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The band cites a lot of influences on this album (progressive metal, rock, jazz fusion (I’m not the greatest fan of this type of music but it works here), electronic, and cinematic music) and all of that is here. I don’t want to take away anything from that lengthy description but the overall vibe and sound I get from this is: picture Liquid Tension Experiment without the guitar. Well.. not ALL without guitar. There is a guest guitarist on the epic here, so maybe think LTE with just a pinch of guitar.
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I want to take a moment to call out the production on this album. The Courage to Be was produced by the band and mastered by Brett Caldas-Lima (Ayreon, The Gentle Storm, Devin Townsend Project). The sound is incredible and I took a look at the waveforms and what you have here is just about perfect. The whole of the songs are allowed to peak with no clipping seen. Extra points for this. I’m sure by now, you are all well aware of my hatred for the Loudness War (if not, then know I hate it), and this one reigns victorious.
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The album starts off with an intro track called Prologue: The Departure (I). It is the first of a 4 part suite of music that is scattered throughout the album. I’ll let the band describe it: “a four-part musical suite that thematically tells a story of separation and hardship, but also hope and transcendence”. There ya go. And the last track, Epilogue: Fly (IV), has a special guest in Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering, Devin Townsend Project, VUUR, et al.) on vocals. The only track with vocals.

Electrocommunion is well placed here as the second track. Check it out below. If you like that track, you will like this album. It is a great first single to release and switches gears many times during its run. Definitely some LTE with a bit of Vince Dicola influence as well. Part 2 of the album suite is next. The Journey plays along with a beautiful galloping melody. This is followed by Aberration, which also has multiple personalities; shifting between some cool DiCola riffs, smooth melodies, jazz solos, and driving beats. Don’t get too comfortable with any section in this one.

Miles Away (not a Winger cover. A little disappointed there. ;-)) starts off with a very guitar-sounding keyboard solo and then goes crazy from there. Lot of that jazz keyboard sprinkled around here.
We take a bit of a breather with Spectral Shapes. Smooth jazz. Again, not what I typically go for, but I definitely don’t skip this track. The laid back feel continues into part three (The Road Home) of the aforementioned suite of tunes. This builds to a nice keyboard choir sound that gives me goosebumps. Very airy and angelic.
Effusion takes us back into faster territory. This is an upbeat track with lots of great melodies. I definitely hear some DiCola influence here as well.
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This brings us to the albums epic piece (technically there are two epic pieces if you include the suite). The Courage to Be clocks in at just about 21 minutes. It has a slow start and builds nicely. Timo Somers (Delain and Vengeance) guests on guitar towards the end and also includes cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Leprous, Musk Ox). The build up on this one pays off with the beautiful climax. A very cinematic piece.
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And finally, we have part 4 of the album suite, Epilogue: Fly. Anneke is fantastic as always and this is a very nice tune with which to close the album.
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I spent a lot of time on this one. Taking a break between listens and coming back to dig in again. I didn’t want my being a fan of Vikram to taint this review so I spent many hours listening to it. I tried to find faults as I wanted to make sure this album earned its score. As I type this, I am on my 20th pass through. Not getting old at all. The DiCola influence is a big key for me as I am a huge fan of his work, so that helps too. It also challenges me a bit as there are parts, as I have said, that I don’t normally go for. Not the biggest jazz fan… but there are bands I like that do it well. So I can appreciate it here.
If you enjoy progressive, instrumental, jazz influenced music. You need this album.
Rating: 9.5/10
Tracklist:
1.  Prologue: The Departure (I) – 1:39
2.  Electrocommunion – 5:07
3.  The Journey (II) – 4:15
4.  Aberration – 5:32
5.  Miles Away – 4:52
6.  Spectral Shapes – 3:33
7.  The Road Home (III) – 6:06
8.  Effusion – 6:36
9.  The Courage to Be [feat. Timo Somers & Raphael Weinroth-Browne] – 20:56
10.  Epilogue: Fly (IV) [feat. Anneke Van Giersbergen] – 4:38
Label: independent release
Release Date: August 24, 2018
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