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(60:47, ‘Days Of Ashes’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Prolog 4:03 2. Walls of Concrete 5:07 3. Sentiment 7:38 4. Father 2:38 5. My Face of Despair 5:05 6. Watching Me Bleed 8:22 7. Hitting the Ground 2:55 8. I Don't Blame You 5:16 9. Kisagatomi 7:34 10. The Core of Myself 5:59 11. Touching Spirituality 6:10 LINEUP: Jolene Fredricson – drums; trumpet; bass, guitars Fredrik Eriksson – vocals Johan Strende – keyboards Peter Henningsson – guitars Jonathan Olsson – bass
Prolusion. The Swedish band DAYS OF ASHES is a project that has been in development for a number of years. However it didn't officially form as a band unit 2013 or thereabouts. "In the Mirror of Reconciliation" is their debut album, and was self-released in 2014.
Analysis. I understand that the background for this album is a conceptual project based on rather personal experiences by one of the band's key members, revolving around the relationship between a father and a son. A relationship that, in this case, comes across as rather skewed and painful. Which, presumably, is one of the reasons for why this project had been in the works for a number of years, as exploring such a sensitive and highly personal theme generally isn't the easily accomplished. In terms of style and music this is an album that is pretty much in the dead center of progressive metal and then the Dream Theater school of that style in particular. The compositions are all slightly on the quirky side of things, usually involving two or three distinct themes of a contrasting nature, where dark toned guitars and light toned keyboards are paired off against each other in various constellations. The classic rough guitars and smooth majestic keyboards or organ motif are very much present, as are firmer guitars paired off with surging elegant keyboards textures, as well as a few different combinations of piano and guitars, combining in themes of a subtly or more substantially delicate nature. Keyboardist Strende in particular comes across as a skilled and accomplished performer, and especially in the instrumental sections his contributions truly elevate the listener experience for those with an affection for distinct and at times flamboyant keyboard details. Other aspects of this album experience will be more of an acquired taste though. That the band often sounds more like Dream Theater than the original band have done themselves for a few years now among the additional positives for me, but on the flip side for me I'd single out the vocals. Fredrik Eriksson has a powerful and melodic voice, fairly intense at times too. Dramatic lead vocals will always be a balancing act between just about enough and too much emotional impact, I guess. For those who have an affection for this vocal style Days Of Ashes is a band that will deliver in that department. Personally I found this aspect to be a bit too much for my personal taste, and I also found the tone and timbre used at times to be outside of what I would expect to hear and subsequently a bit outside of my comfort zone.
Conclusion. Suitably quirky compositions revolving around guitar and keyboard combinations with powerful, dramatic lead vocals on top is the name of the game here, and with an emotionally laden concept explored further emphasizing the dramatic and emotional nature of this production. Those who enjoy ‘90s progressive metal in general and the style of music explored by Dream Theater around 1992 in particular should find this debut album by Days Of Ashes to be interesting, or at least one worth taking note of.
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