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Dec Burke - Book Of Secrets album review

Ex-Frost* singer Dec Burke opens up to a heavier sound

Dec Burke - Book Of Secrets album art

Last year, Burke surprised fans with his moody AudioPlastik project. It was a big departure from his neo-prog solo releases Paradigms & Storylines and Destroy All Monsters, but the experiment seems to have left an audible impression on his work. Although Book Of Secrets is neither pure progressive metal nor as heavy as AudioPlastik’s In The Head Of A Maniac, it does place a shiny metallic bubble around the former Frost* man’s passionate vocals and 80s-styled synths.

Each song is multi-layered and approached in a way that’s not dissimilar to Haken’s tackling of Affinity. Joining the Darwin’s Radio musician on his journey to the darker side are ex-Pain Of Salvation bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw, Mellotron player Carl Westholm (CarpTree/Avatarium) and former Big Big Train drummer Steve Hughes adding depth to big tracks like the anthemic Everlasting, which merges a modern heavy rock sound with retro neo-prog.

The album has even been mastered by Karl Groom from prog metallers Threshold and mixed by F2 label-mate Lee Abraham (Burke recently sang on his album The Seasons Turn). Essential listening for neo-prog fans in search of something a bit different.

Frost* on their lengthy hiatus: "I love the sound of deadlines whizzing past!"

AudioPlastik: In The Head Of A Maniac

Natasha Scharf
Natasha Scharf

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.