I love “Light of Day, Day of Darkness” (LODDOD) as much as anyone. But when the two albums after that were coming out, I listened to some samples, and one whole song I think, and they really didn’t interest me. However, when I heard the swift violin sweeps and touching acoustic harmony of “Alone” I instantly kept pressing the “Order Now” button until my mouse broke (maybe that’s why I received 847 copies).
So, unfortunately, my review is slightly incomplete since I will be unable to compare this to “Blessing in Disguise” or “The Quiet Offspring,” but that isn’t really essential to review something.
“Sweet Leaf” opens up with some quick acoustic strumming and keyboards, and then adds percussion and soft singing. The percussion gets thicker, and after a while the vocals get much more prominent and powerful. The calm, crisp, cascading acoustic melodies in between more upbeat verses remind me a lot of Nest if you’ve heard of them. This song really changes pace a lot for something truly exciting and refreshing. This is actually probably my favorite song on the album.
“The Burden is Mine… Alone” is primarily somber, fast-paced plucking and straight-forward singing. Remind’s me a lot of the folk songs on Antimatter’s “Planetary Confinement”: very simple, yet emotional and effective. However it is not really an ultra-depressing folk style, it is fresh, but retains a trace of melancholy feeling.
“Maybe?” starts off slowly similar to the song before but about halfway through, blooms into more of a full band, the rest of the song being instrumental.
“Alone” is a gorgeous, harmonic, upbeat piece, guided primarily by precise, clever violin strokes between the verses. The strumming, especially at the beginning is stunningly similar to Opeth’s “Harvest”. At the end the violins develop into a dancing harmonization beautifully executed.
“9-29-045″ is a fifteen minute acoustic-based epic that visits many different ideas, pace changes, buildups, progressions and moods. The first part is quite slow-paced, with harmonized vocals and lots of keyboard melodies. Then it shifts into an instrumental section, with what I can best describe as romantic sounding Italian-influenced acoustic strumming, and then some violins. There are so many unexpected, abrupt changes of pace yet they sound perfectly natural at the same time, with some of the most beautiful melodies I’ve ever heard. I really admire a band that can successfully write music that flows so naturally through so many different moods. This song is truly epic and amazing, like a mini “LODDOD” in itself, however being acoustic-driven now and not metal.
“Childs Play Part III” is a very mysterious, distinct, piano-driven instrumental that will inject eerie muses in your mind and chills down your spine. This is honestly one of the very best instrumental tracks on an otherwise vocalized album that I’ve ever heard, up there with Agalloch’s “The Misshapen Steed,” Pain of Salvation’s “Pluvius Aestivus” and perhaps Anathema’s “Violence” (replace with your favorite three)
“High Tide Waves” explores deep contrast with very subdued verses and more “extreme” choruses while still being acoustic, with the use of thick percussion and aggressive vocals.
Fans of Porcupine Tree, Opeth (especially Damnation), Anathema, Riverside, and Antimatter’s “Planetary Confinement” check this out.
I will definitely look into the two albums between this and LODDOD. If I love these two so much, I must have been missing something on the other two.
Edit (11/14/06) Wow. Since writing this I’ve got “The Quiet Offspring,” I don’t know what I was thinking not to buy this when it came out. Amazing.