The music on the album for the most part is not up-tempo driving metal music like some of their earlier work or shimmering commercial rock like some of their highest charting stuff, but rather a slow and contemplative progressive style that relies on piano, saxophone and acoustic guitar to do a lot of the work. It is the sort of album that requires a lot of patience to really enjoy, and may take a few listens to really wrap your head around properly.
Despite the slower brooding pace and mostly quieter nature of Promised Land when compared to the band’s earlier material, the strength of the songwriting is still very impressive and when it does finally kick off there are moments of superb lead guitar to enjoy as well. This isn’t necessarily an album to listen to if you want to bang your head, but if you allow the music to just wash over you it will prove to be among the best moments in the band’s career.
Thinking about it, there are two kinds of songs on the album; big powerful tracks that start off as quiet ballads or hypnotic, dense and slow building songs that evolve slowly over time with some metal riffs and a sort of eastern flavor. In addition to the core band there are often a lot of weird percussive rhythms and touches of synth, but the main focus is on the vocals and lyrics.
Geoff Tate’s powerful and dynamic voice caries the listener through a whole range of moods and mindsets, from desolation to practical thinking across a range of topics from parental relationships to coming to terms with your inability to improve the state of the world.
Highlights include the emotional ‘Bridge’ as well as ‘My Global Mind’ and the lyrically superb ‘One More Time.’
Overall, if you are willing to give it the time and patience that it asks of you, Promised Land is a very interesting album that is worth a place in your collection.