Waken Eyes is a progressive metal band founded by prolific Toronto based guitarist Tom Frelek and featuring a line-up of musicians from other high profile metal acts, including vocalist Henrik Bath from Darkwater and Mike Lepond of the legendary Symphony X on bass. With such a talented cast of musicians on display, my expectations for their debut album were extremely high, and ‘Exodus’ delivers on every level. This is an album of ambitious, melodic, meticulously crafted power metal with touches of dark gothic atmosphere and a cinematic sense of drama. After a brilliantly bombastic orchestral introduction, the album begins in earnest with “Aberration”, which offers up a stunning blast of soaring melodies, powerful riffs and moody guitar passages that calls to mind the best of Opeth, In Flames and Pain of Salvation. Like much of the album it’s a long, complex song full of intricate musicianship and big shifts in dynamics, but it’s held together by the strong sense of melody and Bath’s commanding vocal presence. “Back to Life” mixes this musical prowess with a softer acoustic intro and a majestic, super catchy chorus, making it an instant highlight. Frelek’s guitar playing is stellar throughout, churning out quality riffs and dazzling solos like there’s no tomorrow, and for metal this heavy the lyrical themes are surprisingly hopeful and life-affirming. At 70 minutes long ‘Exodus’ is a lot to take in, even before the eighteen minute title track closes the album in an epic blaze of glory. The length and complexity of the music may be off putting to some but the strength of the playing and songwriting make “Exodus” an astounding success and an essential listen for discerning metal fans.