Kopecky - "Orion"
(M.A.C.E. Music 2001, 7-75047)

From Aural Innovations #18 (January 2002)

This is an hour-long gig recorded at Orion Studios in April of 2000 "as part of a Progressive Rock Showcase Series", as stated in the liner notes. These are the three brothers Kopecky out of Milwaukee who play a very pleasant style of composed progressive metal, though now and then venture into other styles of music, perhaps justifying the adjective "progressive" as much as the numerous time-changes. I find it hard to think of many metal bands to compare them to. I've been an unabashed metal fan for years, but have not kept up with a lot of the scene(s) for the last 7-8 years or so. Dream Theater may be a point for reference, though this is all instrumental, at times fairly spacey, now and then even freaky, and there are no hints of Yes or Queen that I notice.

This is definitely metal. The guitar work is chunky as all hell in that clean underground '90s metal way, when metal was still metal, but many recordings lost their raw edge. There's a doomy and epic edge to many of the tunes, bringing to mind groups like Solitude Aeturnus. And as shifty and changey as Kopecky's style is, the sound is still developed around the many great melodic metal riffs and delicious expert soloing. "Temptation's Screaming Ground" is perfectly played, chunky, speedy, many-noted reach-for-the-sky guitar bliss and waves of soft keyboards. The longer tunes don't always hold their ground compositionally, but with the many fantastic isolated moments and my terrible attention span, I'm not sure I care. "Smoke of Her Burning" has some fantastic bass-playing, breaking out at one moment with Eastern-type runs, before the lead guitar gets into this beautifully convoluted multi-faceted melody... then it's gone forever. Reminds me a bit of Atheist, a brilliant band who would waste numerous insipring riffs and stellar musical moves per moment. These guys just can't stay still. "Scorpion" is very active and after a riff and soloing fest, ends with a sinister darkwave ambient passage. There's plenty of jazzy guitar soloing all over "Heaven's Black Amnesia", intersected with waves of heavy rhythm runs; fretless bass slides all about, in the mode of a Claypool or Manring and nice symphonic, breathy keys. Dynamic, though not quite as inpactful as the other tunes. "Autumn Swirl" and "Sky-blue Hair" are two lovely nature pieces that portray their titles in drops of melodic metal beauty, through the voices of slithery bass, ethereally lilting guitar soloing and spot-on drumming all moving together in many directions and in expert harmony. Some great riffs and moves even make reprise returns and grinding power-chords make appearance, though at times come close to destroying the ambience. "Bartholomew's Kite" couldn't have come at a better time, this being my favorite from the studio album Serpentine Kaleidoscope. The threesome just continues more of what they do best, the crescendos being these moving lead-guitar melodies and simple keyboard lines, combining with the song's title to portray nice-weather childhood innocence (though still with the occasional wicked riff). "Crimson Crime 2-1-3" finishes off the set with more sinister, watery riffage, a few more tantalizing Eastern moves by bassist William and guitarist Joe and some industrial snare-crashes from Paul. These guys really have it together!

For more information you can visit the Kopecky web site at: http://www.kopecky.8m.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Kopecky; 3335 Hamlin St; Racine, WI 53403.

Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg

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