May 23, 2021

Illusory is a Greek power/progressive metal band with Crimson Wreath being the Athens based outfit’s third album. However, the band history is just a little complicated as they began life in 1992 as The Ivory Tower and continued with this name until 2012 when they changed to Illusory with their debut, The Ivory Tower, coming out in 2013 and followed in 2016 by Polysyllabic. The change was made after the band discovered that there was already another band called Ivory Tower, a very fine German power/progressive metal band that you should also check out too. Both of the Illusory albums were very well received in Greece and further afield too as they showed that they were a powerful, intense and articulate metal band with a tale to tell and certainly a show to see.

Now, after a 5-year wait, the band returns with Crimson Wreath, an album that builds on what has gone before but is most assuredly a huge step up in class. The 6-piece band retains the core that has served it so well in the past with just changes in second guitar and keyboards and they have blended smoothly and seamlessly into the team. Dee Theodorou is a mighty fine, powerful singer with a sound and style somewhere between Klaus Meine and Brian Johnson and his English delivery is exemplary. They are another band with twin guitarist and this gives a band so much depth and wonderful melody especially when they play in harmony and there is truly no finer sight and sound than two guitars trading lick for lick. This is full frontal metal attack so do not expect any ballads to get in the way and if you do hear a delightful, acoustic passage then this is just the calm before the storm as this device is often used by the best metal bands to lull you into a false sense of security before they unleash a barrage of crunching riffs and I love it today just as much as when it was first developed.

The album is not a concept piece but there is a common theme throughout the album which is anti-war and deals with the consequences and human losses and the use of occasional narrated sections emphasises the story arc. The material is cleverly written with incisive lyrics which are all delivered with raw emotion and real passion by Dee Theodorou and they seem to have perfected the art of matching harmonious melody with screaming metal to absolute perfection. This is, perhaps, best seen on the three part 22-minute epic An Opus Of Loss And Sorrow which thrills to the core with its scope and intensity.

Illusory have managed to blend progressive metal, power metal and thrash perfectly with a sound that is a pleasing mixture of the American and German giants so if you are into Queensryche, Accept, and Symphony X then this is going to delight you. The album is a long one at 78-minutes but quality standards are maintained throughout and there is not even a hint of a filler track such is the strength of the material on display here. The levels of musicianship are exemplary with each musician at the top of his game with a great platform set by the powerful drums and bass and the keyboards proving neat counter-point to the searing guitars and a singer making a bold and emphatic statement that he intends to challenge the top order. The album closes with the anthemic ‘Fortress Of Sadness’, a 10-minute tour-de-force that leaves you breathless and wanting more; this is a song that must surely close the band’s future live sets and is guaranteed to bring the house down.

Crimson Wreath track list

  1. Besetting Sins (5:01)
  2. Acedia (2:11)
  3. Crimson Wreath (6:35)
  4. Immortal No (4:25)
  5. All Shall Fade (1:51)
  6. All Blood Red (5:48)
  7. The Voice Inside Me (1:28)
  8. S.T. Forsaken (8:08)
  9. Ashes To Dust (5:51)
  10. A Poem I Couldn’t Rhyme (4:22)
  11. An Opus Of Loss And Sorrow: Pedestal I: Past Forever Last (6:07)
  12. Pedestal II: The Isle Of Shadows (9:08)
  13. Pedestal III: Agony’s Last (6:53)
  14. Fortress Of Sadness (10:04)

Line Up:

George Papantonis – Guitars
Greg Bakos – Guitars
Niki Danos – Bass
Makis Vandoros – Keyboards
Costas Koulis – Drums

Keyboards performed by George Konstantakelos and Dee Theodorou

Additional musicians & guests

Choir on The Isle Of Shadows and Fortress Of Sadness: Anastasia Papadopoulou (Upon Revival), Gregory Koilakos (Fortis Ventus), Nancy Moschopoulou (Fortis Ventus) and Ophelia Baudelaire

Soprano Parts on Fortress Of Sadness by Nancy Moschopoulou (Fortis Ventus)

Additional Vocals on Fortress Of Sadness by Ophelia Baudelaire

Lullaby Intro on Agony’s Last by Mary Tirou

Classical Guitars on Acedia and Acoustic Guitars on The Isle Of Shadows by Dimitris Fakos

Piano on All Shall Fade, Fortress Of Sadness and Past Forever Last by Alexandros Roumeliotis

Narration on Ashes To Dust by Grigoris Valtinos

Narration on Acedia by Paul Logue

Narration on The Voice Inside Me by Stiver Graunne

Narration on The Isle Of Shadows by George Papantonis

Gang Voices by the Ivories & Gregory Koilakos (Fortis Ventus)

Choral Arrangements by Dee Theodorou