Feb 25, 2012
Dreams After Death - Embraced by the Light ...
I was thinking about the biggest changes in the metal scene of the last 10 years and one of the biggest changes is the up-surge of the 'one-man band.' Starting with the early days of Myspace, the scene saw the birth of the one-man band and it has grown into a music-world of its own making. One of my rare non-metal friends is into this musician Owen Pallett, who is the man behind the one-man indie group Final Fantasy. Well you might be thinking who in the hell cares, well in an recent interview he had this to say, "Drummers ruin bands," he said simply, as if the fact were common knowledge. "There are probably about 10 people in indie rock who know how to play the drums. If you’re in a mediocre band, just fire the drummer, and chances are you’ll have the best band in the world." The same article goes on to say, "Advances in recording and performance technology now make it possible for musicians not only to fire the drummer but also — if so inclined — to do away with accompaniment altogether without losing the richness, or seemingly the spontaneity, of a full-size band." (NY Times)
My opinion on the one-man band approach to making music is I am still not convinced. While there are some truly remarkable albums being made by just one guy and an array of instruments and imagination, there still seems to be something missing most of the time. Like it or not, this trend is likely to get even more popular as people look for the "easy way out" approach to putting an album together - not that putting music together without the help of other musicians is easy but it does leave the artist free to make his or her own decisions without any outside influences or interference. When I first started hearing one-man doom bands, they were usually pretty awful. Cheap home-recorded albums slapped together by Myspacers who claimed to be musicians or even worse - rockstars! These days though, times have changed. Like the quote above rightly states, technology has improved to the point where one-man band recordings can be just as effective as a full band. Now with the CD market verging on extinction and venues for live music disappearing worldwide - this is the era of lone musician making albums for whoever wants to download them. Look at the rise of bandcamp for example, CD's and full bands are fading away, one and two person bands and downloads are here to stay....Sad but true.
One guy making doom metal all by himself is András Illés with his Dreams After Death project from Hungary. This funeral doom/death doom project has released a début album via the Endless Winter label titled 'Embraced by the Light.' On first hearing the album, I immediately thought of Shape of Despair and Thergothon but the more I listened, the more originality came out of the music. Every track on this album features layers of sound whether it be guitars, keyboards or the vocals. The sound is huge and extremely well produced so the fact it is a one-man band means little to the power of this album. The songs here are discordant, majestic, and intensely dramatic - almost cinematic in many ways. Make no mistake, this is funeral doom, bleak and foreboding but it has a strange, uplifting funeralized vibe in some of the passages that is rarely heard in the funeral doom genre.
The opening tracks, 'Genesis' and 'Funeral' are both very hypnotic. The heavy side of the music produced is similar to Skepticism, Thergothon, Shape of Despair and Colosseum while the softer side which is usually when leads are present reminds me a lot of Esoteric so I can't say this is totally original but it is still far more unique than 80% of other funeral doom releases released in recent years. András Illés is a great songwriter just as much as he is a very talented musician. Songs have great variations but perhaps the best example of his songwriting craft comes in the third track, 'Meeting with the Ancestors.' Over the course of 11 trance-like minutes, the song goes through stunning variations in light and shade. 'The Endless Time,' 'From Time Immemorial' and 'Outer Space' are more of the same but not quite as spectacular but I think like most funeral doom albums, it all starts to sound the same after a while.
Now for some nitpicking; The vocals are your typical deep growl, not bad but don't add a hell of a lot of emotion to the songs. Some instrumental passages throughout the album seem to steer off-course ever so slightly and a couple of sections seem to be a bit roughly played like the passage wasn't perfected before the recording took place but this particular gripe is an extremely minor one. Overall, this is a very impressive album that should suit most funeral doom fans as long as you don't mind the odd goth-rock detour. So yes, going back to my opening rant, one-man bands can indeed be very good and this is one of the better ones....8/10
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