A trip from the Biblical times into the future. Rock artistocrats check in.
Billed as a rock opera, "Illumine", a musical based on a character called Machiventa Melchizedek who's mentioned in the Qumran scrolls - is something different, with no real casting and role-playing. But the album composed by NO NATION - that's keyboardist Steve Roseman, drummer John Hernandez and singer Ed Ulibarri - comes off as an amazing piece of work; a fact confirmed by the high-profile guests appearing here: Steff Burns whose guitar eased Alice Cooper comeback, JOURNEY bassist Ross Valory, Mike Pinder from MOODY BLUES doing narration and YES' warbler, Jon Anderson. Still, the stars don't outshine the proceeding but add some light. And there's much light in this music which is light - the band masterly eschewed expanding over one disc.
It's classic progressive rock with an edge, yet there's more substance than style, all working for the idea of spiritual evolution that sees songs counting down millenia from 5,000 years ago to a thosand years from now. A lot of time, yes, and a lot of space here, without fearsome overplaying, and the opening "Fear Not" begs for attentive (and rewarding) listening as melodies are alluring as one: "Dark", stripped of its acoustic guitar lace, could be turned into metal ballad or gripping pop tune, while "One Heaven" cut out of folk cloth is nothing short of a masterpiece. It's deep, and the further you dig, the more addictive - and shining - it gets.