Music is an expression of art; its an art form by whom some are able through their mastery of it can turn it into a timeless piece of symphony that like a great painting can be enjoyed generation after generation highlighting moments of brilliance. Enter Per Fredrik “PelleK” Asly, a brilliant Norwegian musician and composer. After the success of his “Bag of Tricks” album in 2012, he comes back stronger than ever with a full ensemble of great musicians to bring us to the essence of this review, his latest release, “Ocean of Opportunity”. PelleK has this to say about his latest work inside the cd cover,”…this album truly marks the beginning of a new era. I have spent the last twelve months traveling and researching geography and the world’s cultural differences in order to take you on a unique journey of revelation, self-realization and ultimate fulfillment.”
By any account, this is a massive release, its epic and unique compositions are flawlessly executed, and put this album not only ahead of the game, but places this album and the band as one of the best things the progressive metal / power metal scene has to offer. In short they are poised for greatness if they continue along this path, and do not drop the ball. This is a concept album, but fear not, this is one of those concepts you can play all day long. This will genuinely not tire on me for some time. Also the adventure setting cover features talented artist Jan Yrlund (Manowar) which captures, and is an extension of the whole album experience, as it evokes a picture of a epic adventure ahead, which once laying your ears upon the music within is exactly that. As the title reflects “Ocean of Opportunity”, truly for myself, daily setting sail into the ocean before me I see an ocean of opportunity for me out there.
From the start it lays down a powerful and engaging atmosphere. There is an arsenal of instruments been used here, and with the great compositions and brilliant musicianship this album for all counts is one of the best albums I have heard out of this genre in a long time, period. It seamlessly mixes elements of the symphonic with the progressive. PelleK‘s vocal range and clarity are one of the highlights of the album, and again helps assist in the overall strength and quality of the release. One of the many highlights on the album come from the great orchestral pieces which are arranged by PelleK guitarist, Patrick Fallang and PelleK himself.
The album starts with what could be a sound track out of an adaptation of a fantasy adventure film like Narnia, “Elucidation” is a phenomenal introduction to the album, great orchestral arrangements highlight the “adventure” quality of the song, and complimented with some fantastic guitar work. There is a lead guitar bit towards the end that blew my mind, and the song ends very dramatically and powerfully, just as it started. “American Noise” starts with a beautiful piano piece, and PelleK voice is strong and powerful, and the song has this big screen movie soundtrack feel again. Again this album is so well packaged, to be honest I don’t think there are many albums that are this well done over the whole product. “American Noise” should sound awesome in a big arena setting. “Northern Wayfarer” is my favorite track by far, again great vocals, awesome lead guitar work, and driven fueled powerful galloping drumming that keeps the pace adventurous and big. Love the orchestral arrangements throughout, giving it a very dramatic appeal, and love that it goes through a number of movements, each engaging as the next, giving a very dramatic and engaging appeal. Love the chorus singing towards the end as it moves through one of its many movements. 10/10 for this reviewer, and haha, love the brief piano ending, classic!
Again the ocean adventure continues “Sea of Okhotsk” starts again with a beautiful piano piece before storming into a progressive power metal whirlwind of outstanding musical brilliance. Again this is a song that is filled with great everything, its big and powerful, and PelleK just keeps surprising with his brilliant vocal talent. “Brigantine Of Tranquility” – Okay, I feel as I am just repeating myself, because each song is of such high quality, and PelleK has an endless bag of quality tricks in his vocals. Its an awesome song again. “Gods Pocket”, starts with a very uplifting feel, its bouncy and happy and full of life, and sounds like something out of a high quality musical. “Stars and Bulletholes” filled with great musical arrangements, guitar work, and some great drumming, again showing the talent that seems endless in PelleK, the band works so well together, and capture the sense of adventure and fantasy so well. “Sky Odyssey” is filled with big arrangements that waltz out at you, “ Transmigration” is another great work, and they finish strongly with “The Last Journey” which ends the journey wonderfully, and leaving one wanting more.
Conclusion – Ocean of Opportunity visualizes through music the true portrayal of the spirit of adventure, that holds your attention from start to finish, and through imaginative and innovative story telling, like a good book that you just cannot put down, had me listening through in one seating, and desiring for more when it finished. One can see a lot of effort, research, time, passion and love was put into it, and the end result of all of that is something that PelleK can be really proud of. My one concern is that when an album is this strong, how the hell do improve on it, and thus creates a very high bar of standard to replicate or exceed next time round. I know this, as with my own band we created a song that was so much better than the rest, that to sit down and create something on that same level or beyond, is so difficult, though not impossible. So PelleK if you read this, I am super excited for your next piece of work, this is a job well done!. In closing a highly recommend this release to anyone who has any sense of what high musical quality is all about and who has a sense of adventure and a love for big music.
For fans of: fantasy, progressive metal, power metal, symphonic
2. Northern Wayfarer
3. Sea Of Okhotsk
4. Brigantine Of Tranquility
5. Gods Pocket
6. Stars And Bulletholes
7. Sky Odyssey
9. The Last Journey
Lead and backing vocals: Per Fredrik “PelleK” Äsley
Ochestrations: Patrick Fallang and Per Fredrik “PelleK” Äsley
Drums: Stian Warlow Braathen
Guitars: Patrick Fallang
Bass: Ingemar Bru
Record Label: Independent, May 2013
“Bag Of Tricks”  [Review]
“Ocean Of Opportunity” 
Video below for: ” Northern Wayfarer”
Video below: “Ocean of Opportunity” album teaser