is one of the leading progressive metal bands in the world today, a fact
which is further solidified with the release of their much anticipated
fourth full-length release, ´Snowfall On Judgment Day´, which came out
recently via Inside Out Music. The CD follows up 2005's breakthrough
release ‘The Fullness of Time’, the band's first with Fates Warning
frontman Ray Alder, which generated tremendous critical and popular
The progressive power-metal band Redemption was formed in
Los Angeles, California in late 2000 by guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter
Nicolas van Dyk. Following a chance meeting at a live show in Hollywood,
van Dyk became close friends with legendary vocalist Ray Alder (Fates
Warning) and eventually collaborated on a song on Alder's first solo
record with his band Engine. Van Dyk asked Alder to produce a CD of van
Dyk's more progressive metal music, and the two of them assembled a
group of players to record the project, including Bernie Versailles
(Agent Steel, Engine) on guitar and Jason Rullo (Symphony X) on drums.
Rick Mythiasin (Taraxacum / ex-Steel Prophet) signed on to be the
vocalist for the project, and Alder along with Fates Warning drummer
Mark Zonder contributed guest performances. The band was signed to
Sensory Records and released its self-titled debut in the summer of
In December 2006, Redemption signed a multi-album deal
with Inside Out for the worldwide release of its new material. In April
2007, the band released ´The Origins of Ruin´. Following in the
footsteps of ´The Fullness of Time´ (2005), the CD continued the unique
combination of high energy, aggressive prog power with strong melodies,
and the production of Tommy Newton. The band added its permanent touring
keyboardist, Greg Hosharian, shortly before the release of ´The Origins
of Ruin´, in preparation for live shows in the US and abroad.
In the summer of 2007, the band was selected by the
definitive Progressive Metal band, Dream Theater, as direct support for
the entirety of Dream Theater's North American tour. After performing 26
shows for tens of thousands of fans, Redemption capped off this tour
with a performance at the 8th annual ProgPower festival in Atlanta. This
performance, to a sold-out house, was captured in a five camera shoot
and in March 2009 it was released as a live DVD / CD package entitled
´Frozen in the Moment: Live in Atlanta´.
Throughout spring 2009 the band finalized ´Snowfall On
Judgment Day´, which was mixed by the well-known producer Tommy Hansen (Helloween,
Jorn Lande, Circus Maximus). The album was mixed and mastered by Tommy
Newton, who produced the group's last two CDs, at Area 51 Studios in
Celle, Germany. The artwork was once again created by Travis Smith.
´Snowfall On Judgment Day´ features a more mature songwriting than ever
before and shows the band taking several steps beyond the quality of
their previous output, and standing out from the rest of the crowd in
the progressive metal scene with their unique brand of heavy, melodic
and emotionally powerful music. The legendary James Labrie (Dream
Theater) also performs a duet guest vocal spot on the song “Another Day
On top of that, guitarist / songwriter Nicolas van Dyk
has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which he describes as "a
particularly bad form of blood cancer which is generally considered
incurable and which has a five-year survival rate of 34%."
Nicolas' lengthy online post regarding his condition and
prognosis can be found at
It appears there is much to talk about and so we tracked
down guitarist / keyboardist / songwriter Nicolas van Dyk to ask
him some questions. Here you can read what he had to say.
First of all, I just read that you were was diagnosed
with multiple myeloma. I read the story on your online posting and I
was quite shocked to hear about this "summer vacation" as you call it
yourself. I would like to wish you and your wife all the best and we all
hope for a full recovery and that you'll win this battle. Hang in there!
Nick: Thanks, Eugene. I appreciate the kind words. It
was not a lot of fun, I can tell you that, but I’m still standing.
Despite all of this I would like to congratulate you with
your new album ‘Snowfall on Judgment Day’ which will be out soon, of
course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it.
How did you launch into writing material for ‘Snowfall on
Judgment Day’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?
Nick: The songs came together over a fairly long period
of time – close to eighteen months, really. Of course in between we had
a tour and a live DVD, so that explains some of the delay!
I did some writing before we left, some writing while we
were on tour (I brought a laptop and an M-Box), and the rest of it after
the DVD was finally finished, so most of the writing really happened in
the first half of 2008.
Which approach did you choose to create this
album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. Or something more
reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together
Nick: I don’t think I had any particular approach, other
than I wanted to continue to push the combination of very aggressive,
riff-oriented, heavy music with strong melodies. Not on every song, of
course, because that would sound too monotonous, but we’ve pushed the
envelope on a couple of tracks. I guess the only other thing I wanted
to try to do, apart from just getting better and better at songwriting,
was to have a slightly more varied collection of songs in terms of tempo
and stuff like that. The last CD was almost all one tempo, other than
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to
write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Nick: Some ideas came together quickly, but most require
dedicated composition. There’s a lot going on in our music. Even on
this CD, where there aren’t as many long stretches of technical stuff,
the verses are very busy.
What comes first, lyrics or melodies?
Nick: Almost always melodies. Usually when the music is
finished, I will go through and sing a rough melody line with nonsense
words like “na na na” or “la la la” and then I’ll fit words to the
melody. Occasionally, the two will come to mind at the same time,
though, and when that happens I’ll write the music around it.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record ‘Snowfall on Judgment Day’, any elements you definitely wanted to
include on the album?
Nick: Not really, other than the basic ideas I mentioned
above: a bit more variety, a heavier sound overall and in particular the
combination of heavy riffing with strong melody.
How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the
typical writing process like for Redemption? For example, is it more a
group process or did some people write more songs than others?
For better or worse, I write all the songs. I will generally finish
writing the record and send the pro-production rough mixes out to the
rest of the guys, who sometimes have comments or changes. Then when we
record, Chris and Sean and Greg will all have ideas that they will add
or change. Usually I have very rudimentary ideas of what I’m hearing on
drums or bass or keys, and the guys will change things and make it their
own. In this way, the pieces reflect everybody’s contributions,
although I’m the sole writer.
Could you please describe the implications of the title
‘Snowfall on Judgment Day’, what does it stand for and is there a
special meaning behind it?
For the previous two CD´s, I had a definite connection between the cover
and the lyrics. For this CD, there’s no connection between the title or
the artwork and the lyrics. The title was something that I liked the
cadence of – just the sound of the words and how they flowed together,
and it has a kind of mysterious connotation.
Can you give us a short explanation of what the lyrics
are about, is there a story behind them?
I decided a
long time ago I never wanted to write a song about trolls, dragons, or
worshipping dark forces in the cold Carpathian foothills.
These things just seem juvenile or pathetic. Redemption’s songs are
about human frailty, more or less. Weakness and challenges that we face
in dealing with ourselves and with others. Yet there is always still
reason to hope. This duality in our lyrics goes along with the
combination of the heavy music and strong melody.
How important is it to you that people pay attention to
the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
Nick: It’s a nice plus, but it’s not critical. We aren’t
a “message” band per se, although there is a song on the new CD that is
probably the only political song we’ll ever do (Leviathan Rising). Many
of our fans find, though, that the lyrics reinforce the emotion of the
music and I do think it makes for a more powerful connection with the
listener if they are able to enjoy both.
How did the recording process proceed? Did you work
differently this time than you did with your previous works? How much
time did you spend in the studio?
Nick: Basically, I will compose everything in my home
studio to a click track, and record a very simple bass line, scratch
vocals, and some keys (sometimes I will record all the keys, sometimes I
leave it more open). Once we’re happy with the pre-production, we’ll go
into another studio to track drums. Then back in my home studio we’ll
track the bass, add keys and track vocals. This gives us as much time
as we need to get the performances we want. The drums we track in
usually 2-3 days; the rest of it is done at a fairly leisurely pace.
Once everything is done, the raw guitar tracks are
“re-amped” in a studio where the CD is mixed.
The album was produced by Tommy Hansen, what made him the
perfect man for the job?
Nick: We have done our last two records with Tommy
Newton, and we started out this one with him as well, but we had a
deadline and his schedule was pretty hectic. I wasn’t able to get a
product that I was happy with and he had to move on to another project.
We could have waited for him to free up, but I wanted to make sure we
hit our release goal of getting this out in time for the ProgPower
festival in the US. So we checked around on our shortlist of other
producers, and Tommy Hansen had time in his schedule. His work with
Pagan’s Mind, Circus Maximus and others was very solid so I had a high
degree of confidence that we’d be pleased with the mix. He was very
easy to work with.
In which elements on the new album can one clearly hear
his visions and ideas?
Nick: Most of the record, between my initial thoughts and
Tommy Newton’s ideas, was pretty much settled before Tommy Hansen was
involved, but he did add some things here and there to it. I think the
biggest difference is in the overall sound of the record, which has a
brightness and crispness to it that I like.
Can you elaborate on James LaBrie’s guest appearance on
Nick: When we were touring, James was particularly
gracious and told me he really liked what Redemption was doing. I asked
him if he’d be interested in doing a guest appearance and he was totally
fired up about it. I didn’t write that song for him, and I didn’t
really even know what type of guest appearance would work, but when the
songs were all finished, I knew the verses in “Another Day Dies” would
sound great with James’ delivery, and the idea for the duet during the
chorus came to me as well, and I sent him the pre-production demo and
asked him what he thought. He loved the idea, and here we are.
‘The Origins Of Ruin’ was already a step forward, but
‘Snowfall on Judgment Day’ is actually the first album on which
Redemption shows its full capabilities: What are your thoughts on this
Nick: First, thank you for the compliment. I do hope
that I am becoming a better and better songwriter with each release.
I’m not sure that we are doing things technically that are more
challenging on this CD, but I do think that we play with a cohesiveness
that can only come about from spending a couple of months together in
close quarters on tour. That definitely comes through in the songs, I
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song?
Nick: Melody. If you hum a song, you hum the melody.
Everything else follows.
Do you have any favorites on the album?
Nick: “Black and White World” and “Love Kills Us All /
Life in One Day” are my favorites. “Walls” is another good one, though
stylistically very different from those two. I like them all, though.
Have you received any feedback on the album yet?
Nick: Yes, and it’s been uniformly positive from the
critics and fans that have heard it so far. It’s very gratifying,
obviously, and hopefully our audience will really enjoy our work.
Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your
music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that
Nick: Third party opinions are hugely important. I think
all artists, if they are honest with themselves about it, are somewhat
insecure. It’s great to have validation of your work.
Which element of the CD are you most proud of?
Nick: The last track, “Love Kills Us All / Life in One
Day”. I think the songwriting there is quite strong and the melodies
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
Nick: I am a pretty normal guy, I think. I’m not really
motivated by anything other than the need to create. I am stirred more
by a melody or a song structure than by lyrics. As I said, most of our
about human frailty. These are things that everybody can relate to.
The two exceptions to this, on the new CD, are the song “Keep Breathing”
which is a very specific song about my daughter, and the song “Leviathan
Rising” which is influenced by socioeconomics. In particular, government
encroaching on freedoms, both social and economic.
With several albums under your belt, how far has you
career surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most
rewarding part of being in the band?
Nick: Well, when we began I had no expectations
whatsoever. Now, we’ve released four studio CDs and a live DVD and
toured all over the US and Canada with Dream Theater – it’s been a
remarkable journey so far.
I think the most rewarding part of being in the band is
simply being able to create good music with good friends. If I wasn’t
enjoying it, I’d stop. There’s not enough money in it to justify
expending effort if we weren’t enjoying ourselves.
What is your opinion on the progressive metal scene these
days? What do you think about the overload of bands at the moment and is
there anything missing in the scene?
Nick: There are many more good musicians than there are
good songwriters. I can think of a dozen prog metal CDs where the
musicians are amazing but I listen to it for an hour and I can’t recall
a single memorable riff or melody line.
The internet, and the falling cost of recording, has made
it possible for a lot of small bands to be heard, and that’s a good
thing. But the truly great bands are still few and far between. But
having more people taking their instrument seriously, priding themselves
on technique, and listening to good music is certainly a good thing for
What makes Redemption different from the other bands out
Nick: I think we are much heavier than most prog metal,
and the combination of this heaviness with the strong melodies that we
have is pretty unique. That, and there’s a feel to our music that I
have described before as “emotional urgency” which I think we have that
sets us apart from most bands.
What can we expect from Redemption in the near future, I
think touring Europe might be difficult?
Nick: The economics of putting together a European tour
are challenging, particularly in this economy, but we’re always thinking
about how we might be able to pull it off. I have some ideas about that
as well, but they’re too early to talk about. We probably won’t be
playing out until 2010 because Ray is working on a new Fates Warning
record right now, and I have always maintained that I want to respect
Fates Warning first and foremost and never have Redemption interfere
with it. But we do look forward to playing out, and hopefully getting
over to Europe again! Meanwhile, I have started putting together some
very rough ideas for the next CD.
Anything left to say to our readers?
Nick: As always, thanks so much for your interest and
support. I’ve got some relatives over there in a little town called
Wijchen near Nijmegen and my father was born in Amsterdam…although for
some reason I’m a lot shorter, darker, and less good looking than most
Thanks for your time and good luck with everything!
Ray Alder - Vocals
Nick van Dyk - Guitars, Keyboards
Bernie Versailles - Guitars
Sean Andrews - Bass
Chris Quirarte - Drums
Greg Hosharian - Keyboards
(2003) - Redemption
(2005) - The Fullness of Time
(2007) - The Origins Of Ruin
(2009) - Snowfall on Judgment Day
(2009) - Frozen In The Moment: Live In Atlanta (DVD)