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sadness and oculi melancholiarum - springgarden

Review by Gary Hill

I need to get some conventions out of the way at the start of this. First, I've included it under various artists because it is a split album with two different acts, so it seems the most accurate way to classify it. Secondly, all the titles and names are in lowercase letters because that's the way it's listed on the disc. Finally, this is being billed as metal, but I've put it under progressive rock because I think of shoegaze, which is what this really is, as progressive rock, not metal.

With that out of the way, these two acts do sound a lot alike. That said, the vocals are more prominent, but still rather understated, on the songs from sadness. There is some great music here, and honestly, the vocals feels closer to another instrument than it does actually lead vocals on most of the set. If you like shoegaze, you should really give this a try. I found it to be very compelling and effective.

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Track by Track Review
sadness - lowsun in a glistening

At nearly 14-minutes long, this is the epic of the disc. Keyboards bring it in. Intricate guitar and other elements join as this builds out in a melodic prog arrangement. After the minute-and-a-half mark edgy, metallic guitar rises up and the track drives forward with a lot of power. It has a real shoegaze kind of sound at play. The vocals that come over the top add to that classification. Some world music is incorporated further down the road as the track feels rather playful. This gets involved and powerful as they continue to grow and change it. It turns very atmospheric around the halfway mark and works forward in that motif from there. It continues evolving gradually before eventually driving out into some more metallic stuff around the ten-and-a-half-minute mark.

sadness - best friend (feat abriction)
The mellow, gradually intensifying introduction to this track makes me think of Yes to some degree. At over nine minutes long, this is another epic. This gets into the more driving, shoegaze type stuff much later, around the hall-way mark. It really rocks like crazy. They turn the corner into some almost punk stuff that's more pure rock and roll for a time, but work out into that more edgy shoegaze prog stuff from there.
oculi melancholiarum
oculi melancholiarum - euphorbia

Driving shoegaze meets black metal on this number. The vocals are more screamed, but the music itself has a definite proggy edge to it. While a lot of this lacks the nuances and subtly of the tracks we've heard thus far, it drops to a mellower section with sung vocals further along the road that showcases those kinds of things. More driving stuff takes over from there, but the vocals remain more in the melodic vein. 

oculi melancholiarum - acherontia
Roughly the first half of this is delivered without vocals. It's on the more melodic, but still shoegaze oriented side of the equation. When the vocals do join, they are not the black metal variety we heard early in the last track, but more of a waif-like sound floating over the top. The music gets more metallic and driving, but is still on the melodic, proggy end of the spectrum. More of the extreme metal vocals do show up for a time around the three-quarters mark of the song, but this remains quite proggy from there.
oculi melancholiarum - silene
The first half, or so, of this track is in the more melodic shoegaze vein. It turns harder edged with some noisier guitar over the top at times, but works back toward that melodious stuff after a while. Then that fiercer guitar returns. There are some understated melodic vocals buried in the mix at times, but overall this is more of an instrumental piece. It seems to end, but then keyboards take over from there. atmospherics take over to create the outro to the track.
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