Ilium – ‘Ageless Decay’                                                         June 19, 2009

Mike DiMeo – vocals
Jason Hodges – guitar
Adam Smith – guitar, bass & keyboards
Tim Yatras - drums

1.) “Mothcaste” –There is a small drum fill that opens this track.  Jason & Adam are both playing lead guitar.  Both guitarists are playing lead guitar solo riffs one sounds a little delayed and sounds like it is just a little behind the other.  The double-bass drum pattern Tim used for the intro section had a very simple feel to it. (Even though drummers use one bass drum and two pedals anymore, it’s still double bass)  That any double-bass beginner could do.  However the ride cymbal licks is what gave the drum line a very experienced sound!  As the intro progresses one of the guitarists overdubs a small rhythm chord progression.  There is a small keyboard chord that connects the intro with the musical verse.  Dimeo’s vocal lines give the songs an Yngwie feel.  Mike double tracked the fifth lyric line of the first verse.  Though the rhythm guitar riffs of the musical verse have a simple feel to them do not let that fool you these rhythm riffs have a very intense sound.  There is a DiMeo vocal scream in between the verse and chorus.  The bass line of the chorus follows along with DiMeo’s vocals lines through the chorus.  To connect the first chorus with the second verse Jason & Adam switch back to the lead licks of the intro section.  There is a drastic musical change leading into the lead guitar solo section.  The first half of the lead guitar solo was done with a single guitar then the second half was done with both.  This was one of the most well-written solos I have heard in a very longtime!!!! 
2.) “Hibernal Thaw” – This track opens with a single electric picking riff.  Not too long into this picking pattern a minor lead guitar solo kicks-in over the top of it. A drum fill and vocal accent connects the intro with the musical verse.  Tim’s drum line follows along with the rhythm guitar riffs perfectly.  The musical verse consisted of both rhythm guitar and keyboards.  The third lyric line was double tracked.  There is a drastic musical change for the chorus.  The up-tempo change of the chorus was completely out of left field.  There is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse.  After the second chorus there is a drastic music change.  Over the top of this music change there was a minor keyboard solo.  The keyboard solo along with the piece of music that leads into the major lead guitar solo was heavily reminiscent of the stuff Tchaikovsky wrote for The Nutcracker.  After the solo the song kind of slows down a little.  This slowed down section was like a breakdown section.  After this breakdown section there is a second lead guitar solo.  This lead guitar solo goes from one guitar into two. 
3.) “Tar Pit” – This track opens with a simple distorted guitar riff over the top of a whole-note keyboard progression.  I know reading that sounds strange to all the musicians out there however; you just have to listen to it to get the full meaning of what I’m explaining.  There is a pick slide connecting the intro with the musical verse.  Jason & Adam are playing two different rhythms.  The main lead rhythm has almost a Black Sabbath feel.  After one measure both guitarist switch to playing the same rhythm.  After one measure Jason & Adam switch the rhythm guitars again this time to a very heavy older thrash metal rhythm.  The double-bass drum pattern underneath the DiMeo’s vocal lines is amazing!!!!  Just great foot control!  Some of the lyric lines for the verse are double tracked.  There is a bass drum pattern change for the musical chorus this gives the musical arrangement a completely different sound.  Between the first chorus and second verse there are several bass & drum rests underneath the rhythm guitar along with a rhythm guitar arrangement change.  The breakdown section is right up against the second chorus.  Both guitar players are playing on the lead guitar solo.  The guitarists are playing different solo over top of each other.  Usually you will see one guitarist play lead, then the other.  I believe this is the first time I’ve heard it done quite like this.  The second half of the solo was more the standard way guitarists write their solos. 
4.) “Omnipaedia” – The rhythm arrangement of this intro is fairly basic.  If it was not for the riff at the end of the power chords the rhythm would be almost boring.  There is a minor lead guitar solo over the top of the intro section.  The solo is not really a solo but fill-in lead notes.  There is a rhythm change for the musical verse.  Mike overdubbed a couple of his lead vocal lines.  There is a rhythm guitar change for the musical chorus.  I was kind of taken aback by how simple this song sounds in comparison to the other tracks so far.  However, do not let that fool you this track is just as good as the rest.   
5.) “Xerophyte” – The intro to this track opens with a clean electric picking arrangement over the top of a keyboard pattern.  There is a snare drum fill connecting the intro with the musical verse.  The musical verse consisted of a drastic musical change.  There is a small keyboard solo riff connecting the musical verse with the musical chorus.  The timing change after the first chorus was amazing and is probably what made the song, or so I thought.  The bass drum pattern underneath the short lead guitar solo was awesome!!!!
6.) “Nubia Awakes” –The rhythm guitar riff of this intro section had an Arabic feel to it.  There rhythm changes about four measures into the song where the keyboard arrangement is brought to the forefront of the music.  This has to be the longest intro section in history!  There is a small lead lick connecting the intro with the musical verse.  The rhythm guitar of the musical pre-verse is pulled back letting Mike’s vocals carry the song.  There is a small drum fill connecting the musical pre-verse and verse.  For the verse the only thing that really changes musically is the drum line.  The arrangement changes for the musical chorus.  There is a very strange abstract musical piece connecting the chorus with the solo section.  This is the first time on the CD where you actually hear the band’s progressive influence. 
7.) “Ageless Decay” –This intro opened with a lead guitar riff.  There is a vocal accent between the lead riff that opens the intro and the main intro section.  The double-bass drum pattern of the main intro really added to an already intense guitar riff.  For the last measure of the intro the lead riff was double-tracked.  There is an arrangement change for the musical verse.  The bass line for this section was amazing!!  There are lead licks scattered throughout the musical arrangement.  There are several rests for the musical chorus giving the musical chorus an abstract sound.  The lead guitar solo is after the first chorus.  After the lead guitar solo there is a small arrangement change for a short keyboard solo.   
8.) “Eocene Dawning” – This song opens with a small guitar/keyboard riff.  After a couple of measures the arrangement changes with an orchestration section.  The song kicks-in with a very simple rhythm guitar riff.  In comparison to the other songs on the CD this verse had a much laid back feel to it.  Mike double tracked his vocals of the pre-chorus to wear they ran underneath the vocals of the verse.  There is also a timing change for the musical chorus.  The lead guitar solo is after the first chorus.  Of all the solos this one was the least intense and probably my favorite.  The outro consisted of a simple keyboard.
9.) “Fragmented Glory” – There is a minor solo over the top of this intro section.  Over the top of the musical intro DiMeo sings a vocal accent.  It is at this point when the intro drastically intensifies.  This is mainly due to the double-bass drum pattern.  The best way to explain the musical arrangement of the musical verse is the breakdown section of Metallica’s – “One”.  The musical arrangement changes underneath the vocal lines of the pre-verse.  In the way Mike double-tracked the vocal lines gave the vocal lines a duet feel.  This song is so intense with so much going on that for me it sounded as if everything was running together.  The biggest highlight was the guitar solo.   
10.) “The Neo-Mortician” – This track has a classic progressive metal intro.  The rhythm guitar of the musical verse follows along with the vocal lines. There is a vocal accent after the last lyric line.  There is a small arrangement change for the musical chorus.  Vocally this track really allows Mike to show his great vocal talent.  The lead guitar solo is after the first chorus.  At times the song gets real intense then automatically gets real melodic.  The major lead guitar solo is after the second chorus.   
11.) “The Little Witch Of Madagascar” –This intro opens with a drum fill.  There are several small vocal accents over the top of the intro section.  There is a small musical rest connecting the intro with the musical verse.  Though the musical verse has an intense sound, Mike gives it a melodic feel.  The chorus and the verse run over the top of each other.  There is a small musical change leading into the main lead guitar solo.  All in all I have to say the highlight was DiMeo’s vocals on this track.  
12.) “Idolatry” – All I can say about this song is the timing changes makes this song AMAZING!!!

            I am not a huge fan of progressive metal.  There are only a select few groups I like that fall within this category the main one being Queensrÿche.  Since I am confessing to the Metal Gods I must also be honest and say the only reason I requested a review copy was because of Mike DiMeo who I know through the band The Lizards (see archive for reviews) So for me leading up to hearing this CD I was thinking this style of music may be a stretch for Mike.  However I did not take into consideration that he had previously sang with the band Masterplan.  Which in many ways fall in the progressive metal category.
Musically the songs are a mixture of early thrash band rhythm guitars mixed in with KK Downing & Glen Tipton (Judas Priest) on lead with a dash of Nick Menza (Megadeth) on drums.  Though there are at times when some of Adam’s bass lines remind me of Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, DLR Band) or even Les Claypool (Primus).
           The songs musically & vocally are very good however, not too long into the release and I began to fill like Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day’.  With that being said If you are a fan of this style of music then this is a must have.