This sophomore album by Swiss quartet formed 14 years ago was really awesome last week when the weather was grey and gloomy, and the music matched it completely. With the sky blue and bright, the music somehow feels crisp and clean instead. Weird how sunshine and music can be so mood affecting.
Within a few seconds of “Purple Skies” starting Daniel Dorn’s slow bass notes are accentuated by the tremolo picking on Benjamin Schenk and Sascha Jeger’s guitars combined with Benjamin’s sighed vocals before Patrick Hof’s steady but slow drumming keeps the timing rather laconic.
“Ghost Trails” has the guitars slowly soaring allowing Benjamin to display his vocal range from the slower deeper verses to the higher and more melodious choruses.
The haunting guitar melodies on “Blind Mind” intertwine and merge then diverge repeatedly as they crescendo and break down to single picked notes, all the while the vocals have a rather sad but uplifting tone about them.
The heavier guitars shine through on “Deaf Heart”, even though the song itself never gets overly heavy or fast it still drives home the fact these guys were a doom metal band earlier in their career, while “The Path” meanders through various paces from near standstill to a brisk walk then near run as it winds down.
“Cold Wind” has a classic pop ballad feel about it where the snap of the snare becomes a focal point that draws you in as the guitar melodies work their magic giving the sombre vocals a levity they don’t really want to share.
The erratic drum tempo used for “Existence” is catchy in a strange way and rather different from the more tribal one used on “Suspire” where the guitars are used minimally forcing the vocals to carry both the tune and melody of the song almost on their own.
The layers of vocals on “Not The Same” have some raw emotion seeping through the cutting leads as they rise and fall.
Maybe it’s just me, but the rather bleak “Dust” brings forth images of large grey clumps of ashy snow falling from the sky while overlooking a broken metropolis, but soon I’m seeing crisp snow falling in the mountains as the slow and eerie guitar melody is starkly emphasised by the very dry drum sound on “Anything”, as each whack of a stick gives a clean sharp snap, but the lack of any reverberation drains the drums of any possible warmth they normally have.
The simple picking and accompanying guitar wail bring forth visions of rain running down a windowpane while Benjamin laments his lost “Youth” before the final track comes in, feeling positively energetic to “Transcend” the idea that a slow gentle song needs to be dreary.
I enjoyed this album thoroughly and it is a lovely shift for these early spring days when the weather is still shit but there is hope it will get better.
(8/10 Marco Gaminara)