METAL MANIACS June 2000
KenZiner - The Prophecies
At the end of the day the real reason to listen to Kenziner is manlier-than-thou vocalist Stephen Fredrick, whose super tough voice makes Vic Hix(Shok Paris) sound like a canary bird and Graham Bonnet sound like a little girl who fell off her bike. His melodies are generally memorable, and he intones them with such power that you can't help but groove along.
Review by Matt Johnsen
Heavy, oder was!? Magazine (Germany), issue #40
KenZiner - Timescape (Limb Music Products/SPV)
Wow ! This album really kicks ass. At long last here's another of those bands who you don't
expect to do anything great and then who come up with something like this. The stuff which
the Finnish guitarist Jarno Keskinen has put out with the ex-CHASTAIN drummer Dennis Lesh
and singer Stephen Fredrick beats the pants off the latest output of his producer, David T.
Chastain. Some parts of "Timescape" remind me of a mixture of old CJSS and new
STRATOVARIUS times - great stuff, indeed. And in contrast to many other prog metal band,
KENZINER don't mess about - they put the pedal to the metal and develop enormous power
which remains constantly interesting despite all manner of technical tricks. Highlights, other
than the title track include "Future Signs", "Thru The End", "Into The Light". There are no
drop-outs at all - the sound is right, Jarno's own character comes through as far as guitar
techniques go and Stephen Fredrick's powerful voice crowns the compositions. KENZINER leave
no room for attack, so I'll just give up and give them ten fat points....
10 out of 12 points
Review by Martin Römpp
Translation by Dane Kurth
HEADY METAL (USA)
Timescape (c)1998 Leviathan Records 199832
Interestingly David Chastain wrote the lyrics and melodies for Timescape . "Future Signs"
grabbed my attention right off with great playing and forceful vocals. "Into the Light" offers
some rapid guitar and drums that remind me a little of Stratovarius. "Images of the Past" has
enough texture to be an instrumental. "Dreamer" isn't quite as complex, but is really catchy.
"Thru the End" is a cool, medium paced song. "Timescape" begins slowly and works into a good
tune with a lot of changes. "Walking in the Rain" is a solid, melodic song and one of my
favorites. "Seasons" is really unique with dramatic changes and good playing. "In the Silence"
is an excellent ballad with great vocals and guitars. "Land of Shadows" has a dramatic sound.
Timescape is a great CD. The playing and vocals are both solid. Do yourself a favor and pick
this one up.
GOOD TIMES REVIEW (New York)
"If you're partial to the sounds of Dream Theater, Yngwie Malmsteen or Ritchie Blackmore's
Rainbow, then latch on to the debut album from KenZiner. Featuring Jarno Keskinen (who hails
from Finland), this disc is chock full of impossibly fast, amazingly precise riffing. Even
better, it sounds like real music rather than just scale practice, which is often the case with
this sort of thing. At times, things do get a bit much, and the band's obsessive perfectionism
causes the music to verge on the sterile. Nevertheless, there are some genuinely powerful
metal pieces and many sincere performances on this impressive debut.
Correctly billed as 'Symphonic Progressive Metal', KenZiner is the creation of Finish born
Jarno Keskinen. A guitarist of immense skill, he was encouraged early on by David T. Chastain,
who after hearing his first demo, kept in touch with Jarno offering support and eventually his
services to him. David produced, contributed all the lyrics and helped gather the musicians
found on this recording. That was the history lesson and now, what about its contents? Well,
KenZiner do live up to expectations. Incorporating a multitude of techniques into equally
complex musical compositions, Jarno weaves his way through a number of Hard Rock and
Heavy Metal landscapes. Not Power Metal as such, Jarno incorporates a number of cool
rhythms that more guitar orientated bands like Dokken and their kind used in their heyday,
adding a more commercial flavour to this highly technical mix. Assisted by the very capable
drumming of ex- Trouble/Chastain/Stygian member Dennis Lesh and the Tony Martin/Graham
Bonnet/David Coverdale style vocals of ex- Billy The Kid frontman Stephen Fredrick, Jarno
has created a very impressive debut. While heavy in the guitar department, Timescape should
not be seen as a Shrapnel Records type release, as there are real songs here, not pieces strung
together for the purpose of show casing a hot new guitarists technical know how. Highlights
include the very heavy 'Future Signs', 'Images Of The Past', 'Timescape' and 'Seasons'. On a
final note, l also hope that Jarno will incorporate more pronounced chorus' into his future
compositions, as the simple repetitive refrains found here on Timescape lessen the albums
impact to a degree.
HIT PARADER MAGAZINE
It probably wouldn't be going to far out on a limb to say that 24 year-old guitar wiz Jarno
Keskinen is the most renowned guitarist to ever come out of Riihimaki, Finland. Heck for all
we know he's the only guitarist to ever call that distant burg home. But none the less, young
Jarno has proven himself to be quite the multi-instrumentalist marvel on KenZiner's debut
disc, TIMESCAPE. Playing bass and keyboards as well as guitar and blending such influences
as Bach and Vivaldi with Iron Maiden, he has emerged with a heady entertaining musical meld
that may just find a home in the late 90's rock world!!
PERPETUAL MOTION Review
KENZINER / Timescape
Out of nowhere comes this superb melodic / neo-classical gem from Finland. Led by a 24-year
old guitar virtuoso named Jarno Keskinen, who plays most of the instruments on the disc, it's
62 minutes of some great melodic metal that sounds like it was maybe written in the late
80's, but given a nice boost of the 90's sound, making it a very interesting disc rather than a
dated one. It's tough to write something fresh in metal in 1998 because it's all been done
before, but when it comes to neo-classical metal, I believe that a band has to have a special
ingredient to produce a disc that fans of this genre will enjoy a great deal rather than pass
the band off as a Yngwie clone that failed. In the case of KenZiner, it appears that Keskinen
had this in mind when he set out to write his music. He took ideas from some of the better
bands of the genre, such as Impelliterri, Stratovarius, and maybe a touch of Treasure Land,
and then added his own touch to the style and produced this enjoyable disc. Couple this with
the fact that one, David T. Chastain wrote the lyrics and produced the disc, and you have a
serious melodic / neo-classical disc contender on your hands.
The STYLE -
As mentioned, this is a blend of melodic metal with a neo-classical base. Don't worry about
having to sit through another Yngwie clone band that can't pull it off, because this band has
other ideas. Taking their cues from bands like Stratovarius, Impelliterri, and some Treasure
Land, this band injects their own style of melody into an already established genre. Being led
by a guitar virtuoso, you'd think that the disc would be full of boring, shredding and blazing
guitar runs. Sorry, Jarno Keskinen is more concerned with writing a good song rather than
show off his talents. Each song seems to have it's roots firm into the neo-classical realm, but
you can forget about speedy, long, double bass runs and get ready for some interesting,
catchy, melodic tunes. Progressive in it's own right, the songs change within themselves
often, starting with fist raising intros, and then running on into catchy choruses, and then on
into some mellow passages. The music never seems to want to stand still, yet it's very easy
to follow the lines. If you think back to the impact that Magnitude-9 had on fans in a very
short time, and the type of music that they play, you know what the impact will be from
KenZiner; it's a superbly played disc filled with metal that we all love to listen to all of the
time because of the catchiness of the tunes, and the fact that the music is played so WELL.
The BAND -
There are 3 members of this band: Dennis Lesh / Drums, Stephen Frederick / Vocals, and Jarno
Keskinen / Guitars, Bass, and Keyboards. Keskinen wrote all of the music for the disc, and it's
easy to see why he is the up and coming talent of today's metal. He plays all of the musical
instruments on the disc, which not only shows his virtuosity on guitar, but his overall talent
in handling all of the other chores in the band. There isn't much to say about the band because
of the small lineup, but suffice it to say that Keskinen is an earful, and it's amazing to hear
music played this well coming from basically one person. The drummer is certainly talented,
and to me, most drummers are who play in a neo-classical atmosphere. Lesh doesn't have too
many soaring double bass runs, but what he does, he does superbly. The singer is a treat as
well, as you'll see in the next line, and Keskinen is the guiding light here, handling guitars and
bass, which he does superbly. The keyboards are used primarily for accenting the guitar lines,
and he can keep up with himself when doing this. There aren't too many times when the keys
are used alone, but most of the time the keys are following the guitar lines, making this
sound a bit on the symphonic side. The keys aren't as prominent as say, a Jans Johansson style
in Stratovarius, but Keskinen has to play some keyboard lines to match his quick guitar lines
and he has no problem doing so.
The SINGER -
This is going to be a real treat for Graham Bonnet fans. Stephen Fredrick sounds just like
Bonnet, with a dash of Joe Lynn Turner thrown in on the more subtle parts of the music.
Overall, if you can imagine Graham Bonnet singing some Impelliterri, or some old Rainbow,
you have a pretty good idea of what Frederick sounds like. For some reason, I've always
seemed to think that Bonnet's voice was one of the few voices that actually made
neo-classical sound even better, as his voice was the perfect match for the style. When
Frederick opened his mouth and the music started, I was instantly brought back to the old
Impelliterri / Rainbow days. This guys does not disappoint in any way, as long as you like
some Bonnet in your music. The nice thing about Frederick's voice is that you can hear just
about every word he is singing, which is always a plus in my book.
The PRODUCTION -
Excellent. The sound is punchy, deep and clean. David Chastain made sure that everything was
heard in the mix, and that crispness was a must for the final recording. Each instrument is
equally mixed, with no one instrument standing out, except maybe for the guitar sound, but
that's because you can't help but focus on that sound. The drums are well up in the mix, and
have a nice punch to the sound as does the bass. The keys are put exactly where they need to
be in the mix, right along side the guitar so that it sounds like every note Keskinen plays
sounds like he is playing the guitar and keyboard at the very same time. The vocals are right
where they should be too, helping us to hear every word that the singer is saying. This is how
metal discs should be recorded.
The COMMENTS -
I bought this blindly, after hearing a clip of a song over the telephone. It's 62:00 of great ,
melodic metal in a neo-classical base. Never overbearing, never boring, I am quite excited and
pleased over what I am hearing on this disc. Add a nice progressive approach to all of that,
and this disc should please just about any fan of some type of melodic, neo-classical and
progressive metal. I have the feeling that an up and coming star is on the rise in Finland, and
having to come up with something different than Stratovarius in their own home land must be
a feat in itself for a 24-year old. This disc wreaks of confidence, and never tries to copy or
outdo any of the aforementioned bands. It can hold it's own, and certainly has my both thumbs
pointing upward in approval. I can safely recommend this disc to anyone who wants to hear
some metal played extremely well, and again, if you want to hear what a mixture of
Impelliterri / Treasure Land and Stratovarius sounds like with just a bit of a different
approach, then you will be pleasantly surprised and excited when you hear this one. Definitely
Progressive Metal Reviews
Kenziner are :
Jarno Keskinen on Electric, Acoustic, bass Guitars and Keyboards
Stephen Fredrick on Vocals
Dennis Lesh on Drums
The tracks are :
1. Future Signs (5:42)
2. Into The Light (4:13)
3. Images Of The Past (5:47)
4. Dreamer (6:18)
5. Thru The End (4:50)
6. Timescape (7:52)
7. Walking In The Rain (7:08)
8. Seasons (7:29)
9. In The Silence (5:18)
10. Land Of Shadows (7:36)
Kenziner is the brainchild of 24 year old guitarist Jarno Keskinen. Jarno has composed all of
the music, played all of the electric and acoustic guitars, bass and keyboards. Jarno first
picked up a guiatr when he was 11 and was immediately impressed with some of the heavy
metal bands such as Iron Maiden and W.A.S.P. Later at the age of 16 as Jarno improved his
abilities he became enthralled with classical greats such as Bach, Vivaldi, Paganin and
Corelli. At this point Jarno beacame involved with classical violin sequences, arpeggios,
minor diminishes chromatic runs and practiced heavily every day.
Joining Jarno on this recording is Dennis Lesh (Trouble, Chastian, Stygian) playing Drums and
Stephen Fredrik on vocals.
Here we have an album that is mainly guitar orientated. Jarno's style is very similar to that
of Yngwie Malmsteen. Combining classical and progressive metal. Jarno's plays some stunning
guitar, powerful, fast, emotional, atmospheric are just a few of the elements that come to
mind when listening to this album. But it's not just the guitar that Jarno has played on this
album, he also handled all the bass and keyboards, and what can I say. Superb!!
Jarno surely is a talented guy. Dennis is just superb on the drums, but then Dennis is an
experienced musician and it's what you would expect here. Not forgetting Stephen, whose
vocal delivery complements this style of music, powerful, emotional and is just perfect.
A great album and one that I will be playing quite a lot in the months to come.
Produced by shred impresario David T. Chastain, this prog-metal opus, featuring the prodigious chops of Finland's Jarno Keskinen, suffers from some anal retentiveness, but the songs are quite killer. With their intricate heavy metal fugues, blistering guitar/keyboard runs and huge, in-the-pocket grooves, the songs are bold, epic slabs of metal that will spur you to slay a dragon, fight the Huns and liberate Jerusalem from the infidels. Or something like that.
Metal Record Review
Reviewed by Alan Gilkeson
Kenziner: Timescape, ( Leviathan Records )
Leave it up to David T. Chastain to find another diamond in the rough
musician. Finland born guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Jarno Keskinen
has come whirling on to the scene with a fury of classical based Metal.
Mentored by Chastain since 1994, after sending
him a demo, Jarno seems destined for greatness.
Timescape features his multiple talents, playing
all the guitars, bass, and keyboards, but it is his
guitar work which bleeds with emotion and
power. Often, when a so called guitar prodigy
comes around, the record is simply a stage for
listening to a guy rip through some scales at
supersonic speed, trying to be the next Yngwie.
Well Jarno just may be the next Yngwie. It isn't
his hand's ability to manipulate the fret board which makes him great,
it's the way each composition comes from his heart, with classical
symphonic elegance and the raw power of Metal. Kenziner also features
a strong vocal effort from Stephen Frederick and solid percussion from
ex-Chastain drummer Dennis Lesh. From the opening Future Signs to the
dramatic Land of Shadows, Timescape is a top notch performance and
solid debut effort.
Standouts: Future Signs, Timescape, Into the Light, and In the Silence.
Jarno Keskinen Interviews