Status Minor - Dialog (Lion Music)

Score: 85 / 100

Troughout the years, Lion Music have strengthened their roster significantly, always adding quality to the already solid list of bands that consists of Seventh Wonder and Astra among others. I'm never sceptical towards checking out progressive bands that is fronted by this label anymore seeing as how they always please me in some way. I have however been on a progressive metal draught the last six months or so as I got pretty tired of my once so beloved genre. I got an urge to seek back for rawer, less polished and dirtier music, and the clean and perfected nature of progressive metal obviously didn't cover those demands. The situation may still be the same, but I decided to keep a keen eye on Lion Records, and I have been rewarded for that. Credit is given were credit is due, and top notch prog like this shouldn't go by unnoticed without the recognition it deserves.

Dialog is Status Minor's very first debut after two well received EP's. Hailing from Scandinavia, or more precisely, Finland, they have a nice bunch of influences to pick from. The extreme melodic approach is typical for every single prog band that hails from Norway, Sweden or Finland, and can be compared to the likes of Circus Maximus label-mates Seventh Wonder and a less harsh Evergrey or more precisely maybe, Cloudscape. In addition to this, the obvious huge influences like Dream Theater and Symphony X with focus on the latter, should be mentioned. Dialog is more or less guitar-driven and catchy without ever being predictable in the slightest and still heavy enough to deliver a well-known blow to the stomach. The guitar-keyboard duels are for once interesting and quite enjoyable, while the drums are always on time and creatively following every twist and turn without any problems at all. Status Minor are tight, and I get the impression that the guys have been playing together for years even though they are still pretty fresh. Status Minor are loaded with talent, and hadn't I known, I would never have guessed that this was only their debut. The song-writing is surprisingly mature even though they're not particularly inventive, and there are quite a few established yet overrated prog bands (Read: Evergrey) that don't reach these guys to the knees.

Dialog is, from what I've gathered, a concept album about human communication and the massive problems it may cause. The songs also surround the lesser subjects, like a mother's rocking relationship with a rebellious teenage daughter. Vocalist Markku Kuika's voice takes various shapes to get the message across, and though he mostly stays in the upper register, he can easily lower his voice and thereby create a dark an gloomy atmosphere that fits the concept of the album nicely. He's more or less perfect for the band and the music, as the vocal lines and melodies is the main thing to make this so incredibly catchy. The album builds up nicely and climaxes with the 15-minute opus that is the title-track. The song is loaded with emotions, and some acts/parts of the epic tune have some spoken arguments between the mentioned mother and daughter. It made me a little uneasy when I first heard it, but who knows if that is their intentions. It doesn't break the song down in any way, hence I have no particular problems with it.

The title-track is of course not the only song you'd want to hear of this album. The heavy Masquerade that precedes it is also an absolute highlight, and the beautiful and emotional ballad-like Fade Away will also be to your delight. The only, minor gripe I have with this album is the slightly generic start. The first song didn't particularly impress me much at the first couple of spins. However, taken into perspective, it flows very naturally and smoothly along with the rest of the album.

Taken into consideration that this is only Status Minor's debut, I am extremely impressed. A marriage of strong song-craftsmanship a modern sound and very skilled and mature musicians makes this a worthy pickup for every fan of the genre. This isn't music that takes seventeen days to make, and I suspect that there is months of blood, sweat and tears behind this. Highly recommended.

Killing Songs :

Fade Away, Masquerade, Dialog

Thomas