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Braindance - 2014 - "Master of Disguise"

(77:40, ‘Progressive Darkwave’)


1.  Unearthed 1:53
2.  Lost 4:18 	
3.  Eye of the Storm 4:05
4.  The Game 6:41
5.  Hunter and Hunted 5:07
6.  Dysphoria 2:29
7.  Master of Disguise 6:15
8.  More Than a Moment 5:16 	
9.  The Silence 5:27 	
10. Dystopia 2:31 	
11. Written in Stone 5:12 	
12. Beyond 7:20 	
13. Falling 9:32	
14. Closer to the Sun 5:52 	
15. Entombed 5:47 


Vora Vor – guitars; keyboards, programming; vocals
Sebastian Elliott – vocals 
Andrew Bunk – bass 
Tony Geballe – guitars, saz
Stygmie – percussion 
Natalia – vocals 
Beka – vocals 

Prolusion. The US band BRAINDANCE first appeared on the scene in 1992, and for the decade that follows it was a fairly active band both as a live performing unit and as a recording outfit. Following a decade of relative inactivity they returned with their fourth album "Master of Disguise" towards the end of 2014, released on their own label Progressive Darkwave Recordings.

Analysis. While I have seen many descriptions of this band, numerous that point towards progressive metal being one of their areas of specialty, my main impression is that Braindance, as they appear, don't have all that much in common with progressive metal, at least as I define the genre. The music does feature some progressive music elements, for sure, but whether or not they will be accepted as a project that merits a placement inside the progressive rock universe will probably be a matter of some contention. The main associations I got throughout this production was towards the likes of Depeche Mode actually. The dark toned, mournful lead vocals of Elliott perhaps the primary reason for this, executed with a sort of dampened dramatic style that automatically brings to mind some of the more sorrow-filled, dramatic pop music bands of the ‘80s UK scene. When that is said, guitars and guitar riffs are ongoing features as well. Mainly as dampened riff and guitar solo presences however, although there are some instances where the guitars, as a standalone instrument, as well as in combination with the keyboards and synths, used throughout, produce arrangements with something of a progressive metal-oriented vibe to them. This aspect of the material is offset by the steady, ongoing rhythms, drum patterns of the kind you can actually dance to, frequently accompanied by electronic percussion details. Careful, simple synth motifs have a tendency to appear as well, adding a certain emphasis to the synth pop associations other parts of this production features. Contrasting these are again richly layered keyboard motifs, orchestral textures used to good effect and a plethora of effects, including a multitude of sampled dialogue sequences from various movies. On a couple of really well made cuts, those samples make out just about everything going on, with sparse instrument and rhythm details supplementing the sampled voices and effects to create disturbing, dystopian soundscapes. This is a really well made production, however. I understand that it has been in development since 2006 and a lot of effort has gone into making the songs compelling, adding some mystical sounding, eastern music-inspired details here and there one of numerous small details that add diversity and maintain tension that can be named. But whether it is a part of the progressive rock universe is a question that will most likely produce more than two different answers.

Conclusion. Combining the aesthetics of synth pop with metal isn't a type of music I encounter all that often. This is a compelling and mesmerizing production in its own way, but I'm rather uncertain as to how much of an interest it will raise in the progressive rock community as such. As the band has chosen to name their label Progressive Darkwave, those with an interest in music described as darkwave should be an obvious key audience for this CD. Fans of progressive rock and metal also fascinated by that type of music might also desire to give this one a spin.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 5, 2016
The Rating Room

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