Dante - The Inner Circle,
Dante were founded in 2006 by keyboardist Markus Maichel and guitarist Markus Berger who had been friends since school. It was at a Dream Theater show in Munich that they decided that they really ought to start working together in a progressive vein and from then started working on sessions in Markus’s own studio. It soon transpired that what they were doing was starting to turn into something special so vocalist Alexander Göhs, a close friend of Maichel and the singer of Berger´s former band "Twelve" was asked to join the recording sessions to get a better idea of what the songs could sound like. He soon joined the band as a full-time member and the line-up was completed by drummer Christian Eichlinger, who not only shared his passion for progressive music, but also had experience with complex arrangements. The resulting album is something of a masterpiece in so many ways. It is unusual these days for a prog band to release such a stunning debut without first being picked up by a ‘major’ (okay, I use the term loosely) label.
Yes, there are a few – but they don’t happen very often, and it has been a long time since I last heard an independent debut from a totally unknown band that has impressed me so much – probably Spock’s Beard or Discipline. There is huge depth in this recording, loads of different styles and sounds and while they can be termed ‘prog metal’ on some numbers this band has way more in common with the actual ‘prog’ field. Berger can really crank out the riffs when he wants to, but he also lets Maichel take centre stage in the musical front – so either of them can be powering onwards, supporting the other as the need arises, or taking a more restrained approach altogether.
This is a great rock album, not really neo-prog, but with some elements of that combined with a hard edge approach and complex arrangements and layered instruments and melodies that result in something that is both powerful and simple, easy to listen to but never easy-listening. Alexander has a vocal style that is well suited to the band, more of a rock singer than a prog singer, it really works. They even put in a ‘short’ ballad that is less than four minutes long, and extremely powerful with a delicate arrangement, and then to show they understand their prog roots they end with one that is nineteen minutes. Well worth discovering www.danteband.de.