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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Various Artists

My Silent Wake and The Drowning - Black Lights & Silent Roads

Review by Gary Hill

This is a split album. The two bands represented are My Silent Wake and The Drowning. I think this one could fit either under heavy metal or progressive rock. I’d say that the music from My Silent Wake is far more progressive rock oriented than metal, even though both styles are represented. The Drowning, on the other hand, are mostly metal, with some prog in the mix. I find My Silent Wake to be the most compelling of the two acts. They are certainly more unique and experimental. Their twenty three plus minute epic by itself makes this a must have release.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
My Silent Wake - I Am (Eternity)

Heavy and slow moving, this is still understated in an odd way. It’s quite bleak and a little creepy. Later we get some vocals that approach death metal territory. Yet there are also some operatic vocals soaring over the top. The arrangement gets quite powerfully developed in this section and it qualifies (in my book) as dark and heavy progressive rock.

My Silent Wake - Bleak Endless Winter
This is more purely heavy metal. The vocals are death styled and the cut is quite powerful. I should say that I’m not a big fan of death growls, but I like this. There’s an almost symphonic feeling to the metal that makes up this cut. That’s through the use of the guitars and other metal instrumentation, though (no addition of orchestral instruments). This does move more towards progressive rock territory later, particularly in a melodic movement that comes late. This is another piece that’s very powerful. It does come back to the heavy metal later, but there are lots of layers of sound added to the mix when it does.
My Silent Wake - Devoid of Light

A more intricate and balladic cut, this definitely fits under the banner of “progressive rock.” It’s not that far removed from something by Porcupine Tree. It’s pretty and dynamic. Yet it’s still dark. It gets heavier later, but never really rises to the level of metal by any means.

My Silent Wake - Rebirth
This is a twenty-three-plus minute epic. Mellow, balladic tones lead it off. From there we get a motif that resembles the first part of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days.” This holds it for an extended period of time and it wouldn’t be a big stretch to imagine that this is Pink Floyd as it builds gradually. That motif holds it, with very slow changes, for the first seven or so minutes. When it does shift out, it’s to a dark, but quite pretty, mellow motif that’s decidedly progressive rock oriented. When the vocals enter, it is over this sound. It reminds me of a more space rock oriented version of Porcupine Tree. Around the nine minute mark the first signs of metal come in. It’s with a heavy riff that’s still quite slow. This continues the piece, feeling sort of like a merging of Black Sabbath with Pink Floyd. They begin building on this. They are still in no real hurry to change things, but add layers on top. Around the ten minute mark we get a burst of death vocals and then the track threatens to turn to pure metal. It works back to Pink Sabbath, though. It does move later into full metal. At around the fourteen minute mark, though, it drops way down and a new progressive rock styled segment takes it. This is built on a dark balladic approach and some backwards tracked sounds. Early Pink Floyd is hinted at with the next section, but as the vocals join this is very much like Hawkwind’s mellower side. I’d definitely consider it to be space rock. It gets more metal elements put into the mix as it continues. Still the soaring female vocals over the top and dark Hawkwind-like atmosphere makes this fit a lot better into prog than into metal. We get a jam later that’s like The Doors meet Iron Butterfly. This is turned more metallic in a soaring jam that’s a crunchy progressive rock. It drops back to just a little more than percussion and a spoken (female) poetry reading comes across. This section is very much like Space Bandits era Hawkwind. That motif ends the cut. Whatever you call it, this is an amazing piece of music that is worth the price of admission here all by itself.
The Drowning - Doomsday Fair
Over the first half minute of this is taken up by an atmospheric sort of movement with some sort of chanting/singing in the distance. They power out from there into some serious metal and the vocals are very death oriented. We are taken through a number of changes during the ten-plus-minute length of this piece, but it never really leaves the realm of heavy metal. There are some overtones, though, that reach towards progressive rock. 
The Drowning - Arclight
The early portions of this are in a dark space rock motif. They power it out to more pure metal as the cut continues, but the opening movement returns later. This piece is fairly evenly divided between metal and progressive rock. The vocals that soar over the top are quite angelic and intriguing. 
The Drowning - Silent Epiphany
This one is quite aggressive and death metal oriented. It’s definitely not progressive rock at all, other than a few overtones.
The Drowning - A Photograph
There’s a weird little effects and ambience section to start this cut. An abrupt shift gives way to more serious metal, rising gradually at first. As this continues other elements do show up, most notably Goth and industrial.
 
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