Review: Cyclopean Walls – Enter the Dreamlands

The following text is written by Igor Jakobsen, member of Dreamslain.

Release: 29/10/2021

Cyclopean Walls is a project by guitarist Yiannis Tziallas, who performs guitars and bass guitars on the record, except for guitar solos by Steelianos Amirides & Stelios Anatolitis on one song. On drums are Jonas Schultz on and Sean Lang (track 5), vocals are handled by Raphael Gazal, with additional vocals by Andrea Krux on one track. Hugo Lee is listed on saxophone, however the saxophone seems to be present only on a few tracks. Yiannis Plastiras did both the composition of the first track and plays Hammond organ on one track. Finally the Esession Strings Quartet performs on the first song. 

The first song has to be mentioned separately. Rather than being a metal song, it’s a classical piece that was composed by Yiannis Plastiras, who also performed Hammond on one of the other songs. It’s based on ideas by the creator of this project, Yiannis Tziallas. While I get the appeal of having ones ideas put into classical orchestration, it breaks with the style of the rest of the album, that doesn’t have that many symphonic elements, and becomes a 4 minute intro, which is honestly to long for an intro.

It is very clear that all musicians involved are accomplished musicians in their own right, giving great performances of the music Yiannis Tziallas has composed. The guitar riffs make me think of Symphony X and Rhapsody. The keyboards are however more in the background, closer to power metal rather than symphonic metal, with a few melodic exceptions.

There are a lot of great and interesting guitar leads, often quite reminding of 90s melodic metal, making this project think of many bands I listened to in my youth. It also makes me think of projects inspired by the progressive metal bands of the 90s, trying to create in that style, but not really bringing that much new to the table.

This is in a way my greatest issue with this album. While the individual riffs and melodies are cool and creative, I have the impression of most songs to not being very innovative as a whole. Not only have I heard something similar before, but the songs are not engaging me.

Vocal melodies more likely to diverge from a metal style to a more prog rock and, unfortunately, often in a major key melodic style. I feel they often are too loud in the mix, feeling to lay on top, instead of in the mix. I’m very happy with the vocal intro on “Dweller in Darkness“ performed by Andrea Krux and would have loved to hear more of her on this project.

I think this albums strongest and most interesting songs are those with more progressive and symphonic elements, while the more heavy metal oriented songs could have had a better flow if there were added some more elements in them, tying them more together.

H.P. Lovecraft seems to be a big inspiration for this project, and I’m surprised the project isn’t darker. I would have expected much less use of major scales and a much darker feel. Instead we’re more in a power metal universe, closer to bands like Kamelot and Nightwish, however without operatic vocals. Even the last track, with lyrics by Lovecraft himself are sung in mostly in a major key!

I think lyrics would have helped me get more into this album. Not because the vocals are hard to hear, but they would have made it more helpful to really get into the stories that are told. 

To sum up, this project has a lot of elements that I should have loved. And there were a lot of melodies and riffs I thought were cool. But even after several listens, I couldn’t get into the songs, they didn’t stick and I didn’t get a feel for them or the album. Despite the technical and song writing craftsmanship it feels somewhat bland and uninspiring. I think this album should sell well, and I do believe it would be loved by the right audience, particularly those into Kamelot, Within Temptation, Sabaton and similar bands, so check it out for yourself. 

Performance: 90%
Songwriting: 75%
Creativity: 70%
Variety: 80%
Entertainment: 40%

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