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Monday, 7 March 2016

Reviews: Subsignal, Karybdis, To Wither (Reviews By Paul)

Subsignal: The Beacons Of Somewhere Sometime (Golden Age Records)

Released late in October 2015, Subsignal’s fourth full release oozes quality. The band who were formed in Munich in 2007 deliver high quality progressive rock with an innovative edge. Perfectly clean vocals with the harmonies of 1980s Yes combine with intricate time changes and songs that soar and sweep as the album develops. Arno Menses is the vocalist and one of the founder members of the band, and he possesses a quite excellent voice; strong and powerful with full control. The album opens with the short instrumental Calm, which segues neatly into Tempest, a seven-minute epic with some quite beautiful playing, a rocky underbelly hidden in amongst the swathes of synths and layered construction. Tempest is followed by A Time Out Of Joint which opens with a killer riff before a more melodic, almost pop feel takes over with a sing-a-long chorus and a quite delicious hook. The track evolves in a very measured way, moving through a progressive keyboard solo and some stunningly delicate guitar work from Markus Steffen, the other co-founder of the band.

With all bar one track extending over the six-minute mark, this is not an album which can be rushed. Indeed, at over 65 minutes in length, this is a piece of work which needs to be savoured. The Beacons Of Somewhere Sometime contains a real mix of styles. And The Rain Will Wash It All Away had elements of the best melodic outfits around with a hint of Magnum and more than a nod to Gabriel era Genesis. A relaxing middle section contains a saxophone and classical guitar face off before the harmonies kick back in. Ashes of Summer has real shades of Yes but with a slightly heavier AOR emphasis whilst shortest song on the album, A Myth Written On Water is the most reserved track, with Menses’ vocals combining with some orchestral strings and Steffen’s simple classical guitar work before the song opens into a perfect melodic rock track, subtle keyboards, clear melody and harmonies and a dynamic lead guitar solo and then closes in similar fashion to how it began.

Everything Is Lost features a colossal riff which matches the acoustic work whilst the composition has more than a passing nod to elements of What About Love by Heart. The drum work is solid yet not overpowering whilst once again the keyboards intertwine perfectly with the other sounds. At over eight minutes long this is the lengthiest track on the album and as it climbs you can at times hear sections of classic Dream Theater. The middle break slows the pace completely with military style drumming before more string work introduces a heavier style break, complete with rocking guitar solo. The album closes with a four part working of the title track which features Maelstrom, The Path, In This Blinding Light and A Canopy Of Stars. The four parts link together to form a progressive epic, moving through a range of melodic and progressive rock elements which build towards a gloriously triumphant crescendo in A Canopy Of Stars which contains elements of early Hogarth era Marillion as well as some mid 2000s Coheed And Cambria. Subsignal are not going to be to the taste of all; in fact, the regular resemblance to Yes and Jon Anderson in particular may put some people off. Regardless, this is a classy release which sits in the upper echelons of a very crowded league. 8/10

Karybdis: Samsara (Beasting Records)

London death metallers Karybdis have been around since 2009 with a steady line-up. Their second release Samsara is a no-holds barred melodic death metal monster which mixes elements of the death metal sound with the aggression of the metal-core movement. Samsara opens with Roshach, a fully in your face all guns blazing track which immediately acquaints you with Rich O’Donnell’s gruff vocal delivery; a real mix of Parkway Drive and In Flames. Forsaken picks up the baton with a battering ram of drumming from Mitch McGugan and the melodic yet killer duel guitar work of Pierre Dujardin and Harsha Dasari as well as O’Donnell’s throat shredding screams. Although Samsara feels a little repetitive at times, the band has made large strides to incorporate some differences in their sound with orchestral arrangements on Constellations and an atmospheric introduction to start Ascendency.

A sedate opening lulls you into a false sense of security during Mermaids before the concrete heavy riffs and speed drumming smash you over the head. Summon the Tides is one of the stand out tracks on this sophomore release with orchestral and choral backing moving the band into Fleshgod Apocalypse and Septicflesh territory. This is a powerful release which leaves you in absolutely no doubt about the band’s direction. Superb drumming, hugely heavy riffs and brutal singing ensures that if you like a mix of the metal core and melodic death this is a release you need to hear. 7/10

To Wither: Dreamfall

Mix the melancholic of Katatonia and Swallow the Sun with the introspective approach of Alcest and elements of Wintersun and you have To Wither. A two-man project from Nordland, Norway, Simon Larsen (Guitar, Synth and Bass) and Isak Hetzler (Drums, Vocals) have produced a pretty decent 40 minutes of progressive metal. With lyrical themes of the human mind, dark thoughts and sorrow you should be able to establish the sound that the band aim for; Passionate drumming, intricate time changes and fragile but clean vocals and harmonic guitar work. With more than a passing nod to progressive rock giants Opeth (especially on Winter which ebbs and flows in a similar vein to some of the Swedes more intricate work) the emotion and passion that To Wither include in their work is impressive. The time changes are as familiar as an old friend and yet have a freshness about them that is captivating. Worth checking out. 7/10




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