(All Album Reviews by 3LockBox)
I was introduced to this CD a little over a year ago. I wasn't prepared for this style and delivery of progressive rock, but there were some immediate gems on it. After a few more listens, I started to actually hear the lyrics and understood the theme, which is somewhat convoluted upon the first few listens. I must say that I now 'get' the hype surrounding this release.
Yes, this band has chops, which is good, but not the important element here. Yes, this is musically challenging prog, complete with rapid time signature shifts and multi-movement songs, but that's only sauce for the goose. The writing is stellar, and the focus is on the story, not prog for prog's sake. I can't tell you how stunned I was when I realized what the theme behind the excellent track “Trace Of Blood” was about the miscarriage of a pregnancy. But this is indicative of the type of writing you get here. No, this isn't an upbeat album by any means, but even a heavy song like “Trace Of Blood” is followed by the tender “This Heart Of Mine (I pledge)”, which is the male character reaffirming his love for his wife, who had just miscarried. Same with another ballad “Second Love”, which deals with loss as well.
Once you've listened to this album 6 or 7 times through, you can get goosebumps on some tracks. One of the instrumentals on this album, “Dryad Of The Woods”, is transcendent. It’s as lovely as any instrumental you've heard from any genre. Quite unexpected since this album is really edgy and full-blown metal in places. And the themes are heavy, dealing with attempted suicide (“Rope Ends”) and depression (“Undertow”), so I wouldn't call it a romantic album.
It was a fun listen the first few times through because this album really rocks in places, like the songs “Rope Ends”, “Waking Every God”, and the aforementioned “Trace Of Blood”, which is a terrific rock fest, even if the theme is miscarriage. In the song “Trace Of Blood”, he is bidding farewell to the child he'll never know, citing "I'll never know your name but I will love you just the same", so the raucous, angry nature of the song is due to the fact that all the hope and preparation of becoming a dad has culminated in a "trace of blood", which isn't how he'd want to remember his unborn child.
See, pretty heady stuff. And it’s handled very deftly. It doesn’t come across as exploitive or pretentious; rather like the writer or someone he knew had unfortunately lived such an experience.
I'll definitely be checking out this band's other albums in the future. Highly recommended.