ROSWELL SIX – Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand (2010)

ROSWELL SIX Terra Incognita A Line In The Sand

ROSWELL SIX is a USA based project combining the creative skills of bestselling novelist writer Kevin J. Anderson and composer/keyboardist Erik Norlander to create a novel approach to the art of concept albums: To base a concept album on the book of an acclaimed author and to let same author actively contribute in the production of the music based on his novel.

The end result is a lavish production with a number of well known guest stars; with a book tie-in that one might assume author and musicians alike hope will lead to synergetic effects in terms of sales for both.
This project is planned as trilogy. The first album in the series ‘Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon’ was released last year and several reviewers and music sites listed the CD among the best of the year.

Following up the success of the first effort, the second chapter entitled “Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand” was released at the very end of 2010.
This time, the music is helmed by Henning Pauly (Frameshift, Chain, Shadows Mignon) who brings hard-driving guitars, passion, and thought-provoking complexity to the music.
Vocals are by rock legends Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga), Sass Jordan (Album Rock’s Female Vocalist of the Year), Alex Froese (Frameshift) and Nick Storr (The Third Ending), with guest appearances by Charlie Dominici (original Dream Theater vocalist), Juan Roos and Arjen A. Lucassen (Ayreon).
As with the first CD, Anderson co-wrote all of the lyrics with his wife, bestselling author Rebecca Moesta.

Progressive metal is the foundation of “Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand”, where heavy riffs and rich symphonic backdrops are key features alongside the plethora of vocal talent.
Eastern and Arabian tinged textures are used effectively throughout to add an exotic tinge to the proceedings, and a couple of nice ballads are inserted to add variety.

As expected Sadler is first class and songs like the emotional piano led “Loyalty” illustrate why Saga fans still mourn his departure from that band.
The real vocal star however is Steve Walsh, who is just immense on “Whirlwind” where he duets with Storr, but all six vocalists are superb, with Dominici also really proving himself as an astounding singer, especially in this genre.
That’s not to take anything away from Storr, Froese or Jordan though, as the three of them take on their roles with a confidence and sense of drama that the music demands.
The Queen-like vocal arrangement in “When God Smiled On Us” is a definite highlight as Storr and Alex Froese do a great job here.
On the 2 last tracks Roswell Six shines at full potential: “Battleground” is an instrumental piece featuring heavy, diverse guitar parts, riffs and solos.
The final song “Victory” is the kind you want to enjoy over and over again. This is prog rock at its best with lots of Saga-like parts and extremely well-sung passages by Sadler; a true gem and a worthy closing song of this complex, entertaining album.

“Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand” is a concept album much like the Ayreon projects, progressive metal based but on many passages adding a modern european hard rock touch, intriguing and highly listenable.
Pauly’s fret work is spot on throughout providing strong riffs, fantastic lead work and just about anything else you could ask of a guitarist. His contribution is nothing short of excellent and while this is complicated music with tricky time signatures and complex arrangements, the story never gets lost in excessive bombast as the cheese factor is kept to a minimum.
But perhaps the strongest aspect of “A Line In The Sand” are the vocals. They are superb and I cannot argue with any of Anderson’s choices as they all give passionate performances.
A well crafted disk that gets better with every listen.

01. Barricade
Lead Vocals – Steve Walsh
Backing Vocals – Alex Froese

02. Whirlwind
Lead Vocals – Nick Storr and Michael Sadler
Backing Vocals – Juan Roos

03. The Crown
Lead Vocals – Sass Jordan

04. Loyalty
Lead Vocals – Michael Sadler
Backing Vocals – Arjen Lucassen

05. My Father’s Son
Lead Vocals – Steve Walsh and Charlie Dominici
Backing Vocals – Henning Pauly

06. When God Smiled On Us
Lead Vocals – Nick Storr and Alex Froese
Backing Vocals – Alex Froese and Nick Storr

07. Need
Vocals – Sass Jordan

08. Spiral
Lead Vocals – Steve Walsh
Backing Vocals – Alex Froese

09. Battleground (Instrumental)

10. Victory
Lead Vocals – Michael Sadler
Backing Vocals – Alex Froese
Choir – You’N’Joy Lindenholzhausen

Henning Pauly : guitar, keyboards, bass, drums

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