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(45:16, Don't Pay Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Inwards 3:25 2. Violent Hill 3:20 3. Shallow Paradise 3:34 4. Legion of Liars 4:30 5. Change 3:56 6. Lysergic 4:01 7. The Brightest Star 4:42 8. Crying Days 4:41 9. Far Away 5:15 10. A Way Out 4:59 11. Acoustic Change 3:53 LINEUP: Sebastian Fernandez Ц vocals Ezequiel Gimenez Ц bass Fernando Culen Ц guitars Martin Magliano Ц drums Andres Blanco Ц keyboards
Prolusion. The Argentinian outfit ACID RAIN has existed since the С90s, with two EPs and two full length productions to their name so far. "Shallow Paradise" is the latest of these, and was released in 2011.
Analysis. When opting for progressive metal as your chosen style, any band with a bit of knowledge knows that they are entering a battlefield with rather steep competition. Ever since the likes of Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, Fates Warning and Dream Theater initiated this sophisticated variety of metal music a few decades ago aspiring musicians with a taste for harder hitting metal have explored different varieties of this approach by the truckload, and it takes a lot to stand out in such a field. Acid Rain appears to be a band developing quite nicely, however: still very much a part of the crowd, but they are improving their craft. Instrumentally they are a tight bunch, with a rock-steady rhythm section, skilled guitarists and a keyboard player, who know how to contrast the guitars in an intriguing, symphonic manner to good effect. And they are good performers too, and I imagine they have quite a lot of practice and a good number of live shows under their belt too (or more rehearsals than what is common). Compositionally they have opted to shy away from the most commonly explored territories however, and while their sound and approach does document the legacy of Dream Theater, they have chosen to develop it towards more of a mainstream orientation. The songs are short and compact, and a common verse and chorus structure is a central characteristic throughout. But within that framework they do incorporate multiple themes, alterations in pace and intensity and quirky, refined riff structures too, and the mainstream structure is broken up by inserts of various kinds, from brief transitional phases to thematic interludes: always accessible, always melodic creations that most likely will find favor amongst the metal community at large rather than the section of it mostly interested in challenging, adventurous material. As contradictory as it may sound, this is an example of radio friendly progressive metal. The lead vocalist is of course often vitally important for bands in this genre, and in particular when melodic endeavors are taken on. Last time around Sebastian Fernandez was the weak link in the band as such, struggling hard to keep up with his fellow band mates. And while I still think this is the case, he has improved markedly in a couple of years, still struggling on occasion, and often I get the impression that he's at the very edge of his ability, but of a decent quality. He doesn't really manage to carry songs by himself yet, but he comes across as a decent lead vocalist now, a singer that appears to be better aware of his strengths and limitations, managing to utilize that knowledge in a positive manner.
Conclusion. Accessible, melodic progressive metal is the name of the game on "Shallow Paradise", a solid set of compositions I suspect will be found more interesting outside of the progressive rock oriented crowd than within it. The lack of challenging features is an aspect I surmise will be regarded as negative by the latter and positive by the former. All in all a promising disc by a talented band that appears to be developing quite nicely, and time will have to tell in what direction they will continue their musical endeavors.
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