To say that I approached this album with trepidation is an understatement. Bob Katsionis plays keyboards for Outloud but is probably known more for his work with Firewind. I must admit I expected a Rick Wakeman style instrumental opus but was knocked out after the 1st minute of album opener On My Own. A mellow keyboard intro eases in deceivingly as it shifts into crunching hard rock with a wailing, snarled vocal from Monument’s Peter Ellis.
Rest In Keys is Bob’s 4th solo album and was released on Dec.1st 2012 via Factory Music. There are 13 tracks, 10 of which are instrumental and 3 with guest vocalists. All with varying styles and not one filler amongst them!
So following the lively opening track is Gravity Dance featuring Gary Wehrkamp from Shadow Gallery on guitar. A striding opening riff increases in speed as the song progresses with some Egyptian influenced keyboard flourishes and a classic UFO guitar/keyboard segment midway. Game Of Drones is warp speed power metal with a guest spot from Chris Amott, guitarist in Arch Enemy who provides a finger snapping guitar solo. Epirus Rising,the 1st instrumental on Rest In Keys is keyboard dominated, bringing to mind a combination of Uriah Heep and The Prodigy. The intro to In My Little Planet, the albums 2nd instrumental is glorious Pieces Of Eight era Styx pomp rock as the track shifts into gear with whirlwind keyboard and guitar solos.
Another World features another guest vocalist this time it is Maxi Nil from Visions Of Atlantis. The lilting intro precedes bombastic but commercial power metal with huge riffs throughout. Poseidon’s Rage is a contender for standout track of the album. Another instrumental guesting Bob’s fellow Firewind member and Ozzy Osbourne band guitarist Gus G. Basically it is a 5 minute guitar/keyboard masterclass which at times threatens to break the dial on the speedometer! The frenetic 1st few minutes gives way to a bluesy lull at the 2 minute mark as the track proceeds with a ridiculously fast Joe Satriani style solo with the song ending with a bang on the opening riff. In complete contrast the quirky Falling From The Edge Of Space has a catchy hook reminiscent of cheesy 80’s pop music!
Rendezvous In The Sky is the 2nd female fronted song, featuring Leaves Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine. It has a melodic rock tempo crossed with Jean Michel Jarre style keyboards. The vocals appear at the 4 minute mark which are initially spoken then sung in a whisper, giving it a spiritual vibe. The title track of the album is next with a keyboard drenched power metal groove broken up by a piano respite 2 minutes into the song.
The Four Seasons Of Love is next and is the highlight of the album for me. It is completely at odds with what has gone before it as it is a 12 minute piano piece divided into 4 beautiful parts, each depicting 1 of the 4 seasons, each separated by crashing waves on the shoreline. It would have been a fitting end to grace the album but there are 2 CD only instrumental bonus tracks after it which I think make the album too long. Being Me is a guitar heavy Gary Moore style number and Dawn Of Nostalgia is a soothing keyboard lead piece interspersed with acoustic guitar.
Even though we are in January, Rest In Keys could already be my album of the year!
Rest In Keys album track listing :-
On My Own.
Game Of Drones.
In My Little Big Planet.
Falling From The Edge Of Space.
Rendezvous In The Sky.
Rest In Keys.
The Four Seasons Of Love :-
1. Two Lovers Spring.
2. Our First Summer.
3. September’s Melancholy.
4. Another Lonely Winter.
Dawn Of Nostalgia.
I award Rest In Keys 9.5/10.