“The Project: Earth” is a concept album by Frank X that features a whole cast of interesting characters and sounds. Upon first listen, this album is strange. Unlike most strange things I come across, however, this is strange in a good way. It’s filled with interludes featuring dialogue that advances the story, and these passages occasionally even spill over into the musical tracks. The good news is that even if you don’t follow the story and are just listening along to these tracks, there is still quite a bit of humour in them. The acting isn’t exactly phenomenal (closer to early Rhapsody than later Rhapsody in terms of spoken word), but it fits the comical nature of the album.
Of course, the main focus of this album is the music, and it is definitely interesting in its own way. In general, it tends to lean towards traditional heavy metal with the symphonic vibes used to enhance the atmosphere and story of the album. In many respects, “The Project: Earth” could be likened to a mid/late-era King Diamond album, where a charismatic, albeit odd vocal performance carries music that tends to be less riff focused. Frank X’s vocals are more than sufficient on this record; he doesn’t offer a particularly wide range, but instead uses his haunting voice to enchant the listener. Many parts of this album sound more like a ritual or conjuring.
Unlike Queensryche’s great concept album, “The Project: Earth” is not a record with individual standouts. In fact, the earlier comparison of King Diamond’s 90s and 2000s career still holds because the album as a whole is incredibly consistent and enjoyable, but its success is due to its cohesion. Many of the tracks are consistently pounding and heavy, but without fast crazy riffs. This means that the near-hour runtime will be an enjoyable experience, but there is not a ton to cling to afterwards.
“The Project: Earth” is an ambitious release, and while Frank X’s vision has been mostly realized, it is not without flaws. One problem is that the mixing between the 100% spoken tracks and the music is not perfect. It’s better than on most other records that intertwine the two, but the acted tracks feel a bit quieter than the music. These sections also give rise to the other issue: they’re simply too frequent. While they can be quite funny, the interludes tend to be more successful when they’re mixed directly into the music. As this album exceeds 56 minutes, it’s already rather lengthy, and having a 4-minute intro with no music, for example, is a bit over the top.
On the whole, these criticisms are easily ignored because the execution on this record is incredible. Concept albums are always ambitious, and comedic ones even moreso. Frank X manages to combine the two in a unique way, while showing homage to an artist like King Diamond, and ultimately create an interesting product. As someone that normally shies away from this sort of thing, “The Project: Earth” was a pleasant surprise.
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All of it
3.9/5 or 78%.
Written by Scott