Review | Oblivion Protocol – The Fall Of The Shires
Atomic Fire Records
Rallying up a varied host of friends, Threshold songwriter and keyboard player Richard West builds ‘The Fall of the Shires’ directly on his main band’s ‘Legends of the Shires’ as a continuation of his story. Moving from the nation into the main protagonist of the previous chapter, Richard shifted gears to delve deeper into the personal effects and narrative. Being the genre of illustrious concept albums, and with West at the helm, Oblivion Protocol revisits classic dystopian records from eras past and unites them with a modern twist.
ORGANIC SONIC GEMS
Joining West are no less than Darkwater’s Simon Anderson on bass and drummer Darby Todd of Devin Townsend-fame, while Within Temptation’s Ruud Jolie takes on guitar duties, occasionally assisted by Threshold’s Karl Groom on the soloing. Richard West administers his majestic keyboard stance and handles all vocals on the album. Lower toned, he has keenly crafted the music around his vocal tone, making the songs organic sonic gems, breathing life into the heartfelt story.
,,The Fall (part 1)” opens in almost shoegazing classic Pink Floyd style with dreamy vocals before you’re woken up to the urging ,,Tormented”, instantly creating framework for the sonic expectations of West and his creative past. Little bits and pieces of sound files weave together the story like the ominous ,,Public Safety Broadcast” that oozes Threshold classic elements and epic grandeur with West utilizing his natural appeal, almost preaching, before empowering the lyrics. Brief sound files inserted amidst the turmoiled instrumental section in which Jolie displays his fine feeling for drama atop the dynamic drum and bass interaction. Classic neo-prog elements weld onto a modern prog-metal carcass, brisk and short, with West’s keyboards coloring the outlines. His solo feeds off Jolie’s solo and whirls.
More jagged the band moves onto the sharp and melodic ,,This is not a Test”, with its nesting vocal melodies and powerful epic keys that start raining in the epic haul of the chorus. Subtle piano strokes enrich the main melody building into the following ,,Storm Warning” with its proclamation brought forward with intense drama. Endured guitar chords echo with keyboards lamenting. Drums hammer a marching beat underneath West’s gut touching vocal delivery. Midway pattern breaks and the song gets hectic returning to a jazzy form with lamenting guitar solos and pulsating bass lines pulling into the whaling format full of drama.
By the time you reach ,,Vertigo” as a listener you are absorb in the concept, not expecting the reverbing modern twist of its opening. The song has you elevated in despaired agony. Scattering distance and solitude takes the front before West and his men bring the positivity back questioning ones believes and standings. Gradually building into the powerful weeping glory of its solo. ,,Oblivion protocol is now on the way…” roars through your speakers, ,,you have 10 seconds to clear the area” scatters in repeated modus while the song shoots into gear with intense dynamics and breaks. Building into the bridge, the turmoil halts and elemental melodies start to well for majestic grandeur, with short breaks of progressive menace casting dystopic bitterness. The song is full of melodic and harmonic twists, with West displaying his musical creativity constantly.
OBLIVION PROTOCOL – THE CONCLUSION
Where ,,Forests in the Fallout” felt like the gamechanger, ,,The Fall (part 2)” suddenly takes us into space with Bowie elemental fragments and tone fused to the classic prog-era meandering Floyd tenure. Floating and dreamy meandering melodic fragments and wailing guitars, the song is sorrowful mourning towards its open ending.
Richard West displays his musical genius in this richly textured musical journey that set sail on Threshold’s ‘Legends of the Shires’. Moving more into meandering low, the concept is more leaning towards classic English prog gems and safe guards West’s catalogue in fashion. ‘The Fall of the Shires’ is a dystopian story and the ominous grip it brings forward is intense and gripping. An album for the listeners and fans of the genre per se.
Release date: 18 August 2023