Ardarith – Home
A good percentage of albums can be described as concept albums. But few fall into the category of Rock Opera and we all like one of those, don’t we? No? Well some people do, including me. Ardarith is the studio-only project of Max Pfaffinger and his debut album is called “Home.” Unusually for these types of project Max himself does not play on the album. Instead, he recruited lots of people to do the job. There are five singers and six musicians plus an extra eight guest soloists. Max’s jobs include initiator, composer, lyricist, texter, producer and coordinator.
The concept of the album is about a man (“Me”) who must leave his home to start a new life somewhere else. The journey to the real place called “Home” leads to the question, what does “Home” really mean? The main character of “Me” is voiced by Rob Lundgren (Reveal) and he is joined by 4 other characters.
These other characters are the emotions that “Me” experiences on the journey. Alina Lesnik takes the part of “Hope,” with Daniël de Jongh (ex-Textures, Black Nazareth, Crown Compass) as “Despair”. Playing “Guilt” is Liv Jagrell (Liv Sin, Sister Sin) and finally there’s Alexander Göhs (Dante) as “Memory “. All five singers appear in most of the songs, with just a couple of exceptions.
It wasn’t far into the opening track ‘Prologue’ that I started making comparisons to the works of Arjen Lucassen. This is not a criticism but more of a compliment. The hauntingly beautiful female vocals and slick guitar solo from Martin Schnella (Gray Matters) leave you in no doubt that this is high quality material. So, here we go, the start of an exciting adventure.
Ardarith – Prologue (click here if the video does not play)
Then we ‘Enter the Void’ and heavier vibes to start with. Each character brings their own ambience though, so the mood changes constantly. There is also some mighty fine shredding from Julian Kellner (Dante).
Ardarith – Enter the Void (Lyricvideo) (click here if the video does not play)
Continuing the journey, ‘A Moment of Silence’ is anything but, although the brief intro is quiet and subtle. I particularly like the riffs in this one, delivered expertly by Marco Schuler (ex-Shift Inc), who is part of the studio band.
Alina Lesnik handles a good slice of the vocals on the track that bears the name of her character ‘Hope’. It’s a slower laid-back track with a guitar solo from Markus Steffen (Subsignal). The only instrumental track is ‘Lay Down to Sleep’ which has a Middle Eastern flavour to it. There is an Oud (a type of Lute) solo from Mohannad Nasser which is an unusual thing. There are also vocals (but not lyrics), from Menna Youssef as “mother.”
The next guest soloist will be a familiar name to a lot of you reading this. Marcel Coenen contributes some extraordinary lead breaks for ‘Awakening.’ Liv Jagrell and Daniël de Jongh’s characters, Guilt, and Despair have the biggest roles in the song. All the singers get a part in ‘Open the Lock’ and there are violin and keyboard solos from Lisa Hellmich (Haggard) and Markus Maichel (Dante) respectively.
There is a full set of lyrics in the CD booklet with an indication of which character is singing. This is useful on this journey of just under an hour. If only to help understand the subtleties and intricacies of the story. A key as it were, which is apt as the title of the penultimate track is ‘The Key.’ With styles ranging from ambient and soft to heavy and raucous it is as varied as the album itself. It also sets the scene for the 10-minute-long epic finale.
Once again, all five characters/singers feature in the last track ‘Disclosure’ and the guitar solo is by Ben Eifert (Aeneas). There is a message in this conclusion, and it reminds me of a saying in Ireland which perhaps sums it up. That saying is, “Arrive a stranger, leave a friend.” Anyway, this is a strong finish to an excellent thought-provoking album. Worth a mention and just as thought provoking is the beautiful cover artwork by Colin Winkler.
There is a hint of album no. 2, but not when or which musicians will be involved. Perhaps some or all of the same, but one thing is for sure, it will be another studio only project. Maybe these projects will never be seen on stage, but similar things have eventually ended up so. Whatever happens, if the quality of future material is up to the standard of “Home” it will be worth waiting for.
- Enter the Void
- A Moment of Silence
- Lay Down to Sleep
- Open the Lock
- The Key