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Optimystical – Distant Encounters [2009]

Country Sweden          Style Melodic Hard Rock

Rating 86/100

Band Members
Robin Vagh – Guitars,keyboards,backing vocals, Jonas Blum,Ronnie Hagstedt – Vocals, Per Broddesson,Fredrik Fencke,Mikael Laver – Guitars, Tom Rask – Keyboards,Johan Sjoberg – Bass,keyboards, Jan-Ake Jonsson – Bass, Magnus Frid,Anders Rosell,Christian Muhr – Drums

Tracks
01. Sunburst In The Midnight (3:43), 02. Happen (3:08), 03. Outcast (4:58), 04. Tonite (4:05), 05. Startide Rising (4:28), 06. Face In The Window (4:56), 07. Lost Horizon (3:33), 08. In Our World (3:48), 09. Jennifer (3:33), 10. The Unexpected (7:01), 11. The Storm (4:24), 12. I Go Blind (4:37)

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PROFILE

“Optimystical” is the melodic rock/hard rock project of guitarist, keyboardist Robin Vagh. Playing the album again and again it seems to me that Vagh’s intention behind “Optimystical” is to push the limits of what AOR/melodic rock can do.

The common factors defining all compositions are inventive riffs, melodic keyboards copious amounts of guitar shred/solo and the most memorable choruses. From there onwards, “Distant Encounters” is quite a diverse album: Songs like “Sunburst in the midnight” and “Startide Rising”, as their titles suggest, are made of the most extravagant lyrical themes one has heard in AOR; still you will not believe how convincing and appropriate the performances are; courtesy of the great lead singers Ronnie Hagstedt and Jonas Blum.

In addition “Optimystical” features a list of hard rocking tunes which despite their heaviness retain their AOR identity: “Outcast” is a huge melodic protest while “Tonite” sounds flamboyant and dramatic at the same time. The riffing mayhem and chorus of “In our world” catch the listener defenseless. Leaving the best for last, is “The Storm” which is based on neoclassical guitar/key scales and double bass drums. Can you believe that? Neoclassical AOR… The rest of the songs are in the traditional AOR vein, still by no means fillers.

This is an album that can baffle even the most experienced AOR fans/listeners. The only way I could sum this up is that “Optimystical” stretches AOR/melodic rock as a genre to include melodies, rhythmic, and orchestration from various other rock genres such as pomp rock, power metal and neoclassical metal. If you believe AOR to be a saturated genre, “Optimystical” will force you to reconsider.

Nikiforos V. Skoumas

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Optimystical - Distant Encounters [2009], 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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