Redemption - Snowfall On Judgment Day
Redemption is back with their fourth album, the third in a row voiced by Fates Warning's Ray Alder. Let me tell you right away: There are some real gems on this one. On the first listen more than half the songs stood out and made an instant impression. That is highly unusual with a progressive metal release.
Usually my reaction to what turns out to be a superb progressive metal album goes something like this:
First listen = Confused but strangely intrigued
5'th listen = There is definitely something here
15'th listen = Wow! Brilliant!
With Snowfall on Judgment Day my reaction was more like this:
First listen = Wow! Brilliant!
5'th listen = Album of the year!
15'th listen =  Oh my god this is fantastic. Aha aha I like it. (little dance) Woo!
With Snowfall... Peel, Walls, Black and White World, Keep Breathing, What Would You Say? and Love Kills Us All/Life In One Day were all standouts on the first listen and have remained favorites since. The rest took the normal route and now, around the fifteenth listen are finally starting to grow.  As you may notice all my favorites are the most melodic ones but they are also the ones where the lyrics make the biggest impact. It's like these lyrics are on another level compared to everything else.  They are incredibly well written, cover a variety of different emotions and are related in a way that gets under the skin, touching a special nerve on the way. 
Ray Alder has a major part in making the lyrics work so well. I believe I have never heard him give a better performance and this comes from a long time fan who has loved his work since Fates Warning's No Exit from 1988. His performance is perfectly balanced. Flawless is too cold a word to describe his performance. He complements the music and completes it in a way which makes several passages magical.
The musicians are brilliant all around. It's great to actually be able to hear the bass in the sound and there's a ton of detail in drums (genius performance by Chris Quirarte), bass and guitar to enjoy on repeated listens. The keyboard also perfectly utilized as it doesn't take focus but enhances the sound with subtle melodies and atmospheres.
Peel opens the ball with a foreboding keyboard melody, shattered by a technical and inventive mesh of bass, drums and guitar. Ray Alder's voice floats on top of the manic background in a way that is both calming and contradicting in a genius way. The vocal melodies he delivers are wonderful.
Walls was an instant favorite. From the brilliant sharp guitar solo, which leads the song away through to the superb chorus that goes on and on and beyond the song is pure melodic perfection. This song is one of many examples of how the piano enhances the song in a subtle but important way. There's even a small nod (drum roll) to Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under" around the 5 minute mark.
Things get heavier with Leviathan Rising, a song that took a while to fully bloom but eventually won me over by means of a headbanging guitar riff.
Song number 4 seems to have a special significance when it comes to Redemption. For the past two albums the fourth song has been my absolute favorite and this time it's no different. Black and White World is an astounding piece of music. This song has everything, truly. It covers amazing ground in its 8 minutes and touches on the whole range of emotion in way that is not often experienced through a song. From despair to joy in 8 minutes, the song builds momentum from its piano opening and with its final magical passage ends on a note so high it can only be described as complete fulfillment. This one has quickly flown up there with my all time favorite songs and I'm still completely addicted to it. Incredible song.
On a side note and staying with the song number 4 connection Black and White World serves as a fitting conclusion to Sapphire and Memory if chosen to be seen that way.
Unformed has the unthankful task of continuing the album. It takes a rather more direct and forceful approach.
Keep Breathing is another emotional highlight. The lyrics are devastating yet life affirming. Ray Alder breathes life to the lyrics in a way that hits the right nerve. The song develops from fragile to determined as the music evolves from acoustic to heavy in a way that is convincing and touching.
Another Day Dies with James Labrie on guest vocals wins on repeated listen. The lyrics are chilling and Labrie delivers a fine performance. The guitar and drum work is splendid with new details standing out with each listen.
What Will You Say? Is yet another highlight. The song is utterly melodic and has one of those choruses that I wish would never end. Again the lyrics have a special way of laying it perfectly on the line. Melancholy is perfectly captured in both music and lyrics.
The 11 minute opus Love Kills Us All/Life in One Day ends the album on a peak. This is one of those songs that has to be experienced as it can simply not be explained (Of course I am now going to try). The song slowly builds through its three parts. First a moody melancholic introduction followed by a powerful instrumental section, making a mood switch at the 5 minute mark which leads to a major highlight as Ray enters the sound again with the words "Seems so strange to think of." I love this vocal melody as it holds so much tension and emotion. It reappears with "Snow Fell on the platform..". As if that was not enough the band performs another magic trick with the chorus, especially the "transient connection." line lingers on for a long time. With another atmospheric switch around the 9 minute mark the song reaches an ending crescendo where it feels as if the past trilogy of Redemption albums come full circle and are concluded with the most powerful and positive message I can imagine. So simple and beautiful.
After my first listen to the album was finished I sat back with a very powerful feeling of "Yes! They did it. Amazing". Many listens later, I still get the same joyful feeling. Finally someone has managed to capture such intense and powerful feelings in music. This doesn't happen every year. The last time I gave a new album 9/10 was back in 2004 for Ayreon's "The Human Equation". Finally, here is another album that deserves the same accolade.

If art is defined as an expression by one or more individuals in an attempt to elicit an emotional response then Snowfall on Judgment Day is Redemption's masterpiece. Snowfall on Judgment Day is musical perfection wrapped in tightly woven strands of emotion. Unpack them one by one and prepare to be overwhelmed.
In a word, stunning. Don't let this album slip through your fingertips.

Written by Steen
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Show all reviews by Steen


Steen: 9/10

Members: 8.62/10 - Average of 4 ratings.

Member ratings

Profile pictureLittle Drummer Boy

Rating: 9/10
Easily the best Prog metal release since Dt's Sceens... Nick van Dyk is a brilliant wri... · Read more ·
Profile pictureDark Lord

Rating: 8.5/10
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Profile pictureProfessorShred

Rating: 8.5/10
Passionate performance,sterling vocals and great songwriting make for one very memorable a... · Read more ·
Profile pictureTommy

Rating: 8.5/10
A soul-stirring and extremely powerful album ready to cash in the "Best Of 2009 Awards" fo... · Read more ·

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Comment by josh1982004 (Member) - Wednesday, December 2, 2009
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Comments: 10
Ratings: 0
Great album. Makes a strong case for album of the year

Posted by josh1982004
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Comment by Brian (Staff) - Thursday, December 3, 2009
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Comments: 81
Hi Steen
haven't heard the album, but will now endeavour to seek it out.
Meantime, a clear candidate for album title of the year!

Posted by Brian (Staff)
Thursday, December 3, 2009

Comment by Steen (Staff) - Saturday, December 5, 2009
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Comments: 518
Definitely check it out and let me know what you think. My album of the year, without a doubt.

Posted by Steen (Staff)
Saturday, December 5, 2009

Review by ProfessorShred (Member) - Tuesday, December 8, 2009
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Comments: 16
Ratings: 45
Passionate performance,sterling vocals and great songwriting make for one very memorable album.
On a sidenote,ever notice how James Labrie always turns in a better performance on side projects/guest spot...than with his own band?

Rating: 8.5/10

Posted by ProfessorShred
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review by Tommy (Member) - Saturday, December 12, 2009
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Comments: 74
Ratings: 31
A soul-stirring and extremely powerful album ready to cash in the "Best Of 2009 Awards" for most awesome cover art, coolest album title and without doubt best lyrics. Not to forget the thrilling drumming, a stunning vocal performance by Ray Alder and an overall techinical and impressive rhythm section.

Leviathan Rising (all the noisy talk is quite distracting) and Fistful Of Sand hasn't got the soul and melodic core that most other songs have, but when you pack Black And Whie World, What Will You Say? (spellbinding) and Love Kills Us All / Life In One Day onto one album you clearly mean buisness.

Rating: 8.5/10

Posted by Tommy
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review by Little Drummer Boy (Member) - Thursday, December 17, 2009
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Comments: 166
Ratings: 46
Easily the best Prog metal release since Dt's Sceens...

Nick van Dyk is a brilliant writer and a mind-blowing guitarist.

I agree Black and White World is outstanding. Actually I would use magical. It is the perfect blending of keys and it is performed masterfully. The Piano solo at the 6:14 minute is pure beauty that leads into the most dramatic finishes a song can have with emotionally gripping vocal layering by Ray. That songs moves along so well, it feels a lot short than the time it is clocked in at.

This is undoubtedly the prog release of the year for me.

Rating: 9/10

Posted by Little Drummer Boy
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review by Steen

Released by
InsideOut - 2009

1. Peel
2. Walls
3. Leviathan Rising
4. Black and White World
5. Unformed
6. Keep Breathing
7. Another Day Dies
8. What Will You Say
9. Fistful of Sand
10. Love Kills Us All / Life in One Day

Progressive Metal

Related links
Visit the band page

Redemption - Official Website

Other articles
Redemption - (Steen)

Interview with Nick Van Dyk - (Steen)

The Fullness Of Time - (Tommy)

The Origins of Ruin - (Steen)

The Origins of Ruin - (Alanna)

Interview with Nicolas van Dyk - (Steen)

Snowfall on Judgment Day - (Sandra)

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