For being the shortest of the three offered here, “Eyes of Salvation” takes a good amount of time establishing a fairly dark atmosphere on par with something Epica would compose. It doesn’t stay this way though, picking up a hint of edge and additional emotion to the main verses and chorus that vary between the dark and light based largely around the Marco’s signature clean singing and additional keyboard effects that vary between symphonic and sweeping to upbeat and playful during the quick childish shift before the solos that hit around five minutes in.
“Elevate” keeps that emotionally darker trait alive with a beautiful piano performance that sets up the impending ballad introduction that gives way to a performance reminiscent of Dark Moor and Symphony X. It’s a beautiful piece that concludes with a surprising amount of static and spoken dialogue to play into the science fiction realm “Eyes of Salvation” didn’t really hint at. Meanwhile, the traditional technological elements of the aforementioned genre litter the start and later interludes of “Alchymera” before hitting the listener hard with powerful material on par with Eldritch, early Evergrey. The second half, however, takes on more of a complicated rock opera approach akin to Ayreon and Dream Theater. Sadly, this kind of kills the flow of the performance, making you wish it were separated into two different songs instead of the same.
While X-Gate is a powerful sounding EP that does so much right musically, there’s obviously a theme or concept running through the three songs that just gets lost in the performances themselves. If it wasn’t for “Alchymera” driving that point home, it wouldn’t even cross your mind until you hit the final few minutes of the release. Honestly, this additional hint of an extensive story telling muddies the water of what stands as a solid mixture of progressive metal, Steve Vai, and power metal, one that can quickly be ignored for the passion and beauty already on display that leaves you wanting more in all the right ways.