Music Reviews Progressive Metal

Redemption – This Mortal Coil

Redemption had an excellent three album streak that placed the band in a cozy place among progressive metal fans. Their music was heavy and grandiose with introspective lyrics. The Redemption sound the brainchild of Nick van Dyk, who happens to be a central figure in the 1990s boom in independent film distribution, but today he is a Senior Executive for Disney. Prior to the band’s Snowfall on Judgement Day, van Dyk had announced to that he had fallen ill to a rare case of blood cancer with a negative prognosis. Two years later, van Dyk is still a Disney executive and Redemption has released This Mortal Coil, and aptly named album that thematically chronicles the struggles of van Dyk’s illness.

Redemption build a sound and brand that relied on progressive metal elements and put them in an accessible package. The band could do no wrong until Snowfall showed no signs of growth and was essentially more of the same; heavy riffs, pitch-perfect guitar and keyboard solos, rapid-fire snare rolls. The album became pastiche of the Redemption style. This Mortal Coil suffers from much of the similar issues that Snowfall had. Too much of the same has placed the album into a repetitious nature that seems to coil into itself. The songs no longer standout individually, instead they feel as if the band has fallen into a formula of producing songs that sound too homogenized.

Leading track “Path to the Whirlwind” is the perfect example with only one verse, chorus, short guitar solo, chorus, extended guitar solo and instrumental, and finally finishing with the chorus. The same formula is found roughly in “A Blink of an Eye”. As the album progresses, additional verses are added, but the insincere attempt at producing sincere music toward the progressive crowd has lost its luster.

A ‘mortal coil’ is a literary term that relates to a person’s struggles in life and perhaps the world. It is the perfect title for the band’s fifth album, as van Dyk certainly has something to say fighting and seemingly winning the battle against a rare blood cancer. This is a struggle that I wish to never have to battle, and I look up to van Dyk with adoring eyes. However, the titles and lyrics are insincere, cliche, and borderline camp.

As progressive musicians moved further into their careers, their influences are heard in their music more than their earlier work. Dream Theater is a specific example. By the time Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence arrived, it was rife with influences ranging from Peter Gabriel to Tool. This Mortal Coil features at least one egregious moment where works from other artists or musicians are too similar to ignore. “Stronger Than Death” starts with a melody that is nearly an accurate version of Faith No More’s “A Small Victory” off Angel Dust. Rather than accuse the band for stealing we can easily proclaim that this snippet acts as a leitmotif of the rest of the song and uses intertextuality to bring the song to new heights. That is, if you think the song does indeed go to new heights.

The influences do not stop there. The Special Edition of This Mortal Coil includes several covers from 1980s hair metal bands such as UFO, Toto, Journey, etc. It is “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” (Elton John) and “Precious Little” (Tori Amos) that are the spectacular covers. This additional material shows exactly where the band’s mindset was when writing and recording the album.

There was a time that Redemption was one of the leading progressive metal bands that had fused much of what had been missing in pure progressive metal in the oughts. Where bands like Pain of Salvation have been crucified for their attempts to find a grittier tone to reflect the political and socio-economic themes, Redemption seems to have found themselves stuck producing the same music over and over. They have found the formula that made them successful and instead of building off of that Redemption has coiled into their corner that they—and they alone—have seemed to dominate.

In association with:
Listen to Redemption’s This Mortal Coil on your new iPod speakers.
Please see our Disclosure Policy.