By David Lydiard
Twisted Illusion is the brainchild of Manchester vocalist/guitarist Matt Jones. Much like Trent Reznor in Nine Inch Nails, Twisted Illusion is a one man band with hired guns brought in to round out their live show. Temple of Artifice is their debut album so let’s get listening.
The albums longest song kicks us off. Coming in at 9 minutes 33 seconds, “Imitate Me: Part 1” showcases some serious chops right off the bat. Matt’s powerful vocals and accompanying power chords start us off before a truly awesome Kansas style riff blasts out of the speakers and grooves like a mother. The song has a definite 70s vibe with a modern approach and I can hear elements of the Dream Theater influence throughout. It is a sprawling rock masterpiece and immediately showcases the musical talent on display. The guitar solo serves the song well whilst also showing glimpses of guitar wankery (not a bad thing!).
“Freedom To Fail” features a haunting vocal by Jones and is a beautiful lullaby, before the Geddy Lee/Ronnie James Dio wail of “Don’t you dare box me in” stirs you from your slumber. The dark tone and doomy quality adds extra depth to the song and the almost Led Zep feel to the instrumentation towards the end gives it a bit of an Eastern flavour at times.
Hatred is a virtue unless you use it well Matt screams out in the intro to “Hatred Is A Virtue” and we’re back in Progtastic territory with the guitar riffs before Matt does his best Blackie Lawless impersonation. What a song! The galloping drums lend the song an Iron Maiden feel and the chorus is a total hook fest. The song as a whole is ridiculously catchy and I imagine this would go down extremely well in a live setting. We slow things down midway through for a bit of a bluesy solo, showing that Matt has plenty of strings to his bow as a guitarist. However, personally, I thought this took me out of the song somewhat. It was such an engaging rock-fest that it almost felt a bit out of place.
“Apocalypse….#LOL” opens up with a Led Zep IV acoustic section before the electrics takes over. It’s a musically upbeat song but therein lies the swerve! Lyrically it’s fairly dark, painting a depressing picture of society and how we have become nothing more than zombies thanks to smartphones. Following up on this theme is “Online and In Line” but it focuses more on social media and how people are obsessed with updating their accounts and the brief snapshots into each other’s lives that we get, however false they may be.
Moving onto the albums shortest cut, “A Moment of Lucidity” is Temple of Artifice’s sort of ballad. Shimmering acoustic guitars and piano build up into a beautifully, soulful bluesy guitar solo. The range of Matt’s voice is superb with him channelling Claudio from Coheed & Cambria a little bit here, especially in the quiet, introspective moments. It does have a feeling of “lead single” about it.
The album is closed out by “Imitate Me: Part 2” and it’s more of a moodier and slower affair than Part 1 and once again showcases the musical talent that is Matt Jones. A perfect way to finish up Temple of Artifice.
Overall, this is a fantastic slice of Rock. It has everything you could want in an album, outstanding vocals and tremendous musicianship. Whilst Progressive music is known for veering off into different territories within the same song, I think that some self-editing could have be done in order to tighten up the songs and make them more concise in places. However, I had an absolute blast listening to Temple of Artifice and will be wholly recommending this talented band to anyone that likes good rock music.
This was my first foray into Twisted Illusion but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be back for more. There is a new studio album on the way and tour dates lined up for 2017. I would implore you catch them as I imagine the live show is a sight to behold.