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TRACK LIST: 1. New Bell 11:15 2. A Fragile Disguise 11:36 3. Where Tress Die Alone 12:08 4. White Feathers 10:05 5. Comrade 10:13 LINEUP: Liam Constable – guitars; vocals Dave Caswell – bass; guitars Linton Tuleja – drums With: Rae Parkes – keyboards
Prolusion. This self-titled release by the Australian outfit WHEN DAY DESCENDS (WDD hereinafter, for short) is its third outing to date, albeit the other two seem not to be full-fledged band efforts like this one.
Analysis. The album is pretty uniform in terms of style. WDD plays for the most part Prog-Metal of a moderate heaviness, additionally using art-rock, hard-rock and techno-thrash devices, although it’s only drummer Linton Tuleja who provides the latter. There are five tracks here, ranging from 10 to 12 minutes in length, and on each of those the man from time to time really gladdens the ear by delivering cascades of high-speed chops that effectively contrast with the basic arrangements, to say the least. The band has obviously done all its best to impart as much originality to its music as possible, but, nonetheless, some parallels between it and Rush (circa ’80-’82) do exist, since, besides pounding drums, both the bands deploy power, yet not too edgy, riffs and fairly distinct symphonic elements – mainly ‘courtesy’ of organ in this particular case. Liam Constable’s vocals have probably as much identity to them as the music as such does: they evoke Geddy Lee’s, but only in places. The man’s electric guitar soloing reminds me a bit of Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson’s in approach, while his acoustic guitar passages (which, at least in a more or less large-scaled form, are only available on two of the tracks, though) at times bring to mind ones by Markus Steffen of Sieges Even. Dave Caswell on bass not too frequently comes to the fore, but does so on each of the songs, in all cases delivering something new and distinctive – never in the style of Lee. The tracks New Bell, Comrade and Where Tress Die Alone (which is the sole instrumental here) are each expanded by complex arrangements, the latter piece once even going beyond the genre/primary style’s frontiers, evoking Jazz-Fusion then. A Fragile Disguise is also a good piece overall, but is somewhat less intriguing, with a stronger degree of accessibility, as the music is often moderately-slow in pace, and the band can plod a bit at times. Anyhow, the contrast between the instrumental parts and vocal lines is evident everywhere, except for the mid section of White Feathers, which makes me feel boring for being persistently slow and comparatively monotonous on both of the levels. The music on this track suits the above idiom not throughout, as it’s additionally informed to a certain degree by the early 2000s Rush alternative sound. Nonetheless, there are some interesting compositional ideas here too – outside the implied section, for sure.
Conclusion. The self-titled When Day Descends album is overall a really good effort. It comes recommended above all to fans of such progressive rock music that is moderately heavy and complex alike. Although the Rush influence is never striking, I think the adherents of the Canadian legend should be the first to add the disc to their list of priority CD acquisitions.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: Agst 6, 2011
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