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Roswell Six - Terra Incognita: A Line in The Sand (CD)

This is the follow-up album to the debut “Terra Incognita: Beyond the Horizon” but whereas that album was put together by Erik Norlander, this time that duty falls to Henning Pauly who has surrounded himself with musicians he knows well - vocals are by rock legends Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michael Sadler (Saga), Sass Jordan, Alexander Froese (Frameshift) and Nick Storr (The Third Ending) and guest appearances by Charlie Dominici (solo, original Dream Theater vocalist), Juan Roos (Shadow’s Mignon) and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon and many others). For those who are unaware of the concept behind Roswell Six, it is worth repeating. Acclaimed author Anderson developed the universe and story of “Terra Incognita,” a tale of sailing ships, sea monsters, and the crusades. He then expanded on some of the storylines and with his wife Rebecca Moesta, wrote all the lyrics to the songs. The first novel in the series, THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, was released in June 2010 and this ties in with debut album, while the second CD ties in with THE MAP OF ALL THINGS. So, overall a very ambitious project and Anderson and Moesta penned the lyrics/story again for this album and even co-wrote two songs with multi-Grammy winner Janis Ian. When a project has such importance and is really under the microscope, it can be extremely hard to produce music that stands up to all the attention – but this really does. Henning is no stranger to producing complex music, and while he has brought in 7 singers – he does everything else himself! But, as with all of Henning’s albums this sounds very much like a band – not one guy in a studio laying down track after track. He has stamped his own authority all over this while continuing on from what Erik started as opposed to creating a totally brand new identity. This is progressive melodic rock as it’s finest. Yes, there will be some decriers who say that the music itself is nothing new, and there is nothing here that is contentious or challenging – but when it comes sheer listening pleasure, it rarely gets any better than this.

Interview with the band

... I have to say, I was not familiar with Pauly, before this project, but now that I've heard this guy play, I'm truly amazed. Dude is a bad ass. The vocals were primarily handled by Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga) and Sass Jordan (This one left me guessing when I saw her name on the liner notes, because she is not affiliated with the metal community what so ever. Not sure what rock they found her under, but she does a nice job). A Line in the Sand, is the second in this trilogy and promisses to be heavier than it's predecessor. I haven't heard the first CD, but this one is dark and heavy and very catchy. The songs are well crafted and flow very well together. The songs are progressive and have a very heavy edge to them. All in all a very enjoyable listen...

...The arrival of Pauly means that the music is more rock and less prog this time. The story focusses on a lengthy war between the continents of the world created by Kevin J. Anderson (featured in the accompanying novel "The Map Of All Things"), and the subject matter is matched in the dynamics of the music. It's less symphonic prog and more prog metal, especailly on album highlights 'Barricade' and 'My Father's Son', (the latter featuring a Kansas / Dream Theater linkup, with Steve Walsh and Charlie Dominici sharing vocals) which are prog metal monstas! Although if you like things a little more mellow, then you'll want to check out the fabulous ballad 'Loyalty' or the bluesy, Sass Jordan featuring, 'The Crown'. The first album was a good one, but I reckon this is the one that people will look back on in years to come as a bit of a masterpiece. Highly recommended.

A Line in the Sand is the second chapter in what may become an ongoing series of concept albums from Progrock Records, issued under the project name Roswell Six. And for this sophomore effort, label stalwart Henning Pauly supplies all the songs and instrumentation, while the guest stars covers the vocal parts. Progressive metal bordering on heavy metal is the foundation this time around, where heavy riffs and rich symphonic backdrops are key features alongside the plethora of vocal talent. Eastern and Arabian tinged textures is used effectively throughout to add an exotic tinge to the proceedings, and a couple of nice ballads are inserted to add variety. Personally I found this album much more interesting than the first one. Opening track Barricade is a monster, a brilliant and engaging effort all the way. And while none of the songs that follow manage to compete with the opening number in quality, quite a few of them are highly interesting efforts nontheless. And the jubilant chorus of final piece Victory, with a few nods in the direction of gospel in the way it has been crafted, will stick to your brain for quite some time after encountering it.

I continue to be astounded with the quality of music coming out in 2010. I’d have to say that, at least in terms of quality, some of the best music in a long time is being released in 2010. This album is no exception. It’s the second part in a series created around a series of science fiction books. The disc features many people who should be familiar to prog rock fans like Steve Walsh, Michael Sadler, Charlie Dominici, Arjen Lucassen and Henning Pauly. The disc presents an amazing amalgam of metal and progressive rock. Ultimately, I’d consider it metallic prog rock. It’s an awesome album right up there with the best concept discs of all time.

...This time around Henning Pauly, a composer and multi-instrumentalist who has contributed to a great number of productions previously issued by Progrock Records, has been given more or less free rein in the compositional department: He has written all the music and handles all instrumental parts himself. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta provide for the lyrics department, with Janis Ian co-credited on two numbers. The plethora of guest stars this time around caters solely to the vocal aspect of this endeavor. The end result is a good album. The lead and backing vocals are great, the production top notch and the CD has a great sense of cohesion about it from start to finish. Progressive metal is the chosen style, on this occasion a darker and grimmer sounding variety of it, often bordering on heavy metal. Dark guitar riffs and rich symphonic backdrops are key features throughout, while well-planned and effective use of Arabian-tinged textures supplies something of a lead motif throughout. Within this general framework there's room for quite a lot of variety. The Crown comes across as an AC/DC track on steroids with added art rock arrangements. When God Smiled on Us is a quirky and rather challenging affair, offering the arguably heaviest as well as the mellowest passages on the album; the latter in the shape of almost ambient, brief inserts in between the gritty yet sophisticated riff-dominated constructions. And concluding number Victory is a jubilant affair, with a general positive vibe and a sing-along chorus of the variety that will stick like glue, and containing melodic and compositional aspects that I associate with gospel music. It would be a brilliant alternative for sports clubs to use, replacing the somewhat overused Queen track "We Are the Champions" after goals have been scored. But I digress...

..Perhaps the strongest aspect of A Line In The Sand are the vocals. They are superb and I cannot argue with any of Anderson’s choices as they all give passionate performances. The dramatic beginning to “Barricade” with Walsh’s gritty vocals over a symphonic backdrop before a wonderful Eastern chord progression ensues is pure magic. Storr and Sadler provide vocals for the fiery progressive metal of “Whirlwind” where sinuous lead guitar and a hook laden chorus will have you coming back for more. Choosing personal favourites was tough as this is such a strong CD but Walsh’s vocal performance in “Spiral” is truly inspiring and the Queen-like vocal arrangement in “When God Smiled On Us” is a definite highlight as Storr and Alex Froese do a great job. This is an excellent sophomore effort and I cannot wait to hear the third instalment of the trilogy. One of the best CDs I have heard thus far in 2010. Trust me, it is that good.

Finally a new Roswell Six-album and since the first effort Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon (2009) was a great success, I was really looking forward to its successor. Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand coincides with the release of the new novel of Kevin J. Anderson called The Map Of All Things on which the concept of this album was based. The sound on this second release is different from the debut, as it is much heavier and more varied. The music is dominated by the hard driving guitars of Henning Pauly and the extremely well-chosen different vocal parts. On this album you can enjoy the voices of Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga), Sass Jordan, Nick Storr (The Third Ending), Charlie Dominici (ex- Dream Theater), Alex Froese (Frameshift) and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon). The album kicks off with a rather heavy prog rock song called Barricade dominated by the superb voice of Walsh and the well-played guitar melodies and solos by Pauly. Follow-up Whirlwind is also rather heavy and features the vocals of Sadler and Storr; a perfect combination for this track. The Crown is the first track sung by Sass Jordan. I tend to dislike her rather screaming vocals that remind me of a heavy Bonnie Tyler... Loyalty is the first ballad, sung by Sadler. It’s a great song: very melodic with a nice and subtle guitar solo. Then the band really kicks ass again with the metal song My Father’s Son filled with staccato riffs, a screaming wild guitar solo and the rather heavy vocals of Dominici and Walsh. However, Roswell Six shines at the end of the album because the last two songs are without doubt the absolute highlights. Battleground is an instrumental piece featuring heavy, diverse guitar parts, riffs and solos; the final song Victory you want to enjoy over and over again. This is prog rock at its best with lots of Saga-like parts and extremely well-sung passages by Sadler; a true gem and a worthy closing song of this amazing album!

Last year the first Roswell Six album was presented, the album based on the first part of Kevin Anderson's novel. Now part two is ready to be released. This time Henning Pauly (Frameshift) was asked to write the music and produce the album, he also plays all instruments, while Mr. Anderson wrote the lyrics. The singers cast includes Michael Sadler (ex-Saga) who also been part of the debut among Kansas' Steve Walsh, Sass Jordan, Charlie Dominici and Arjen A. Lucassen - to name a few...Everybody who loves the first album will love this one, even if it's a bit different... Can't wait to hear the final part! And I hope when that one is out that they bring it onto the stage - and that we don't have to wait 20+ years to see it live - like we did have to for Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War Of The Worlds!

Interview with Kevin

...Pauly has created a real heavyweight set of guitar led songs which are brooding and full of foreboding, however they are still accessible and in the same sense that the debut release could, it is still possible to dip into this album and make sense of the songs, even though they do work better as part of the greater whole. It may have been seen as a risk to make such whole sale changes from album one to its follow up, however all involved have done an excellent job of making the intentional transition seamless and I can only wait and wonder as to what part three might bring.

Interview with Kevin and Shawn

ROSWELL SIX is a project of multi-instrumentalist HENNING PAULY, which started in 2009 with a first CD and is already now, just one year later, followed up by a second release in the shape of ‘Terra incognita – A line in the sand’. Once again on Proglabel PROGROCK RECORDS, this CD is a very diverse and quite heavy epic concept style release based once again on a novel written by well-known Sci-Fi bestseller author KEVIN J. ANDERSON. All the instruments on the album are played by Henning, who also produced the CD, while Kevin wrote all the lyrics together with Rebecca Moesta. The vocal department reveals remarkable guest appearances by STEVE WALSH (KANSAS), MICHAEL SADLER (SAGA), SASS JORDAN, AYREON mastermind ARJEN LUCASSEN, the original DREAM THEATER vocalist CHARLIE DOMINICI and the singers of THE THIRD ENDING and FRAMESHIFT. All together it is one of those strong pure concept style epic releases filled with music that mixed progrock, heavy rock and metal, not far away from AYREON actually. One can not go wrong with this release

...I could wax eloquent about the ambitious nature of the project, the sweeping epic arrangements, or the outstanding performances of the musicians, but I would be merely repeating many of my original comments for the first work, Beyond the Horizon. Nevertheless, I will add some additional comments. While the progressive rock is profound, yet fundamental, the tone quite often is heavier and more forceful. It seems that Pauly, understanding the context of continental conflict, offers a greater intensity with heavier and charging riffs from the guitars. Even the addition of Walsh and Sadler add an urgency to the music, with a deeper more raw effect. But this tone never subjugates the complexity, beauty, and melody of the arrangements. Roswell Six's A Line in the Sand is quite impressive and highly entertaining progressive rock, and a worthy follow-up to the first part of the Terra Incognita story. Strongly recommended.

...Grand in scale and intentionally overblown in its execution, the second instalment in the Roswell Six saga, flows on seamlessly from the first part while managing to sound refreshingly different what has come before, although if I was to pick a fault, it would be that there is not enough "light", to counter act the intensity of the music this time. It will be very interesting to see where this project goes from here, as after two immensely satisfying, yet different albums, it may be a tough challenge to bring a third entirely fresh cast together and expect the results to be as equally impressive. However on the strength of the first two parts, I can't wait to find out.

Created by bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson, this is the second CD under the name of Roswell Six and "...features a different, grittier part of the story, focusing on the devastating generations-long war between continents, and it has an entirely different sound,” said Anderson. The music of the first CD was in the hands of Eric Norlander but this time, the music is helmed by Henning Pauly (Frameshift, Chain, Shadows Mignon) and features some artists returning from the first CD as well as new performers. As expected the music is very intense, in a manner made popular by bands like Ayreon, Arena (and other Clive Nolan led projects) and even the eavier stuff by Spock's Beard. A group of well known lead singers (notably, Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michael Sadler (Saga), Sass Jordan...) are asked to crank it up in a metal operatic way. They all do a very good job, Michael Sadler, with is incredible range, having the easiest time at it. If you are into intense symphonic operatic Metal Prog, Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand is pretty much as good as it gets. Recommended indeed for one who enjoys is Prog heavy, intense and dark.

Interview with Henning, Kevin and Shawn