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(98:22; Progressive Promotion Records)
TRACK LIST: CD1: 1. Das Erwachen 2:14 2. Bewahren und Verstehen 8:22 3. Der Vorsprung 6:13 4. Entfliehen 5:22 5. Viele Wege 4:47 6. Der Neue Morgen 7:41 7. Verstehen und Bewahren 5:34 8. Die Dunkelheit Durchleuchten 8:58 CD2: 1.The Awakening 2:14 2. Preserve & Understand 8:22 3. Walk on Yourself 6:13 4. Escape 5:22 5. So Many Ways 4:47 6. The New Morning 7:41 7. Understand and Preserve 5:34 8. X-Ray the Darkness 8:58 LINEUP: Alexander Weyland - vocals, keyboards, percussion, programming Tobias Hampl - guitars Till Ottinger - bass Ray Gattner - drums
Prolusion. German band TRAUMHAUS can trace their history back to the end of the 1990's, and they revealed themselves to the public in 2001 with the debut album "Traumhaus". Since then the band have delivered new studio albums every 6 years or so. "In Oculis Meis" is their fourth studio album, and was released in 2020 through German label Progressive Promotion Records.
Analysis. When Traumhaus released their first album, they were by and large described as a symphonic progressive rock band, and one with a speciality to focus on darker moods and atmospheres at that. Some 20 years later and the band has taken a few steps away from the symphonic oriented landscapes, but their affection for the darker moods is very much a presence also when the band have opted for a somewhat different style of music to explore. Pinpointing just where in the progressive rock landscape Traumhaus is at this point isn't really possible, as they band as of 2020 have their feet placed in several places. What can be pointed out straight away is that the music is on the accessible scale of progressive rock. Traumhaus use verse and chorus segments to a greater extent than many other progressive rock bands, and while the compositions may well twist and turn a bit the band makes sure to explore the different arrangements long enough for the mind of the listener to settle before moving on. Hence those looking for quirky, challenging and demanding constructions can safely look elsewhere. Another accessible aspect of this album are the lead vocals. Besides being given a dominant placement in the mix they are also dark, melodic and captivating, and due to this they also elevate the total listener experience when present. The compositions as such mix and blend quite a few different elements. We are treated to rich, layered passages of the kind many fans of neo.progressive rock will know and love, but the band will also add in more majestic, harder guitar riff and keyboard combinations fans of progressive metal will treasure. In between these outer edges we have sections with more of a gnarly hard rock tinge to them, as well as some passages with arguably more of a grunge or classic era Black Sabbath sound as a dominating trait. An additional detail that merits a mention is the use of futuristic sounding keyboard and synthesizer effects of the kind that fans of late 1970's Gary Numan probably will find familiar sounding. While this may sound somewhat confusing and not all that accessible, the music is rather captivating and catchy, and much more cohesive than the descriptions above may indicate. A kind of a borderline doom-laden neo-progressive rock if you like, and a band that showcase quite nicely that dark music doesn't mean oppressive and depressive music. The vocals play a key part in this, but also due to some chorus parts that are borderline jubilant despite exploring a landscape that may well be somewhat bleak. Mix and production is of high quality throughout, and an added bonus feature for those who do not enjoy listening to music in a foregn language is the inclusion of a second CD with all the songs performed in English. Which is also well done, although for my sake I prefer the original German version of these songs - as I listen to the vocals as an instrument first and foremost, the original language just sounds better in that context for me.
Conclusion. Traumhaus isn't a band that will appeal to dedicated fans of niche segments within the progressive rock universe, and the focus on darker tones and darker moods may well alienate a few as well. But those who enjoy high quality progressive rock explored with a focus on darker moods, compositions that are more atmospheric laden and accessible and a band that exist somewhere inside the triangle of hard progressive rock, neo-progressive rock and progressive metal should find the latest album by Traumhaus to be something of a treat I'd imagine. From a personal point of view I'd describe this as a highly enjoyable creation.
Progmessor: July 2020
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