At the Soundawn: Shifting

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At the Soundawn: Shifting
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At the Soundawn: Shifting
Hard Rock, Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
Lifeforce Records
March 15th, 2010
Release length: 45:45
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Shifting is the Progressive Hard Rock and Metal act At The Soundawn‘s second full length release, and boy does it focus on the Progressive aspect of their music. The act offers the listener a wide array of emotions throughout this release, ranging from a more laid back jazzy feel, all the way to something one of today’s Progressive Hardcore acts would put out as a thirteen minute or longer song. This talented act’s music shifts around quite a lot throughout the release, but it’s really the ambience that they create that really pushes this one to the forefront of Progressive releases.

There is no denying that At The Soundawn has plenty of talent, and it is showcased greatly here in their music they play. Much of the material on here is well orchestrated, mostly coming off as a lighter, more relaxed environment that you could just lay back to and unwind after a hard day. “Caofedian” is the perfect example of this, which does have it’s heavy moments at the start, but then changes direction quickly into a very ambient setting that one could say was meant to enduce some sort of zen like state with the listener before finishing up with the actual music kicking back in against it. This is really about the point where the album goes in a whole other direction since “Caofedian” does end, but the instrumental track “Drifting Lights” kind of picks up where the ambience left off, feeling as if the temporary pause between the tracks were natural, and then bleeds into “Black Waves” which continues this feel a little more then a minute into the track before it picks back up into the more Metal field once more.

There isn’t too much negative to say about this effort, really. It would have been nice to have a little more focus on the Rock or Metal aspects of the band’s music, as they can be pretty entertaining whenever they pop up. The relaxing environment the band produces is great, but there are times where these atmospheres the band produces seem to go on for too long, or come out of nowhere. “Mudra In Acceptance and Regret” is the perfect example of this, as it starts off heavy enough, and then out of nowhere goes into a slower jazzy musical chunk that throws the listener off. This is the most problematic track on them all due to the fact that nothing else on this album carries the same kind of atmosphere. While the track is good when you get acquainted with the band’s musical approach, it really starts to feel out of place when you get into the release more with the ambience giving off the same vibe, and less of a kind of upbeat jazz one. The closest would be the saxophone at the end of the track “Hades”, but it’s still a distant comparison.

Another issue with Shifting is that there really isn’t much substance to the music. It’s great that the band has found a working path to blend such well done musical atmospheres into their style, but the thing is that much of the album is just that: Atmosphere. There’s no real bite to the music outside of maybe one or two minutes of a song actually having something the members put some effort into playing. Instead, much of the track is just the same bit of ambience just droning on through a good chunk of the track. While this is nice the first time through, chances are good that this CD will wind up sitting and collecting dust from time to time since there’s nothing here that will really stick with the listener outside of the hopes of some form of meditation or zen-like state at some point using something other then nature sound effect CDs.

Either way, the band do successfully pull of a nice Progressive release. The slight Metal touch the band brings to the release is great, and works well to close the album out with the rather Doom-sounding “Prometheus Bring Us the Fire”, but sometimes will feel like it is just not at all necessary during some moments of the music found here. The album does shift around a bit during the start, but once everything is settled, the album plays on various emotions that listeners can interpret to various things such as being out on a warm star-filled night like on “Black Waves”, or even at a small hole-in-the-wall cafe for a Jazz performance on “Mudra In Acceptance and Regret”. At The Soundawn have created a very well performed album with Shifting, but due to the heavy concentrating on atmosphere, it’s a release that will lose a good amount of it’s charm for casual, let alone serious, listening.

01. Mudra In Acceptance And Regret – 7:52
02. 7th Moon – 4:23
03. Caofedian – 7:08
04. Drifting Lights (Instrumental) – 4:01
05. Black Waves – 7:56
06. Hades – 5:08
07. Prometheus Bring Us the Fire – 9:17
Overall Score: 5.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Lifeforce Records.