This month, I have three excellent releases for this triple feature. I almost feel a little guilty about not writing a full review for each of them; but, when I went to do so, I realized that I didn’t have as much to say as I had thought. That said, all three are amazing records. Read on to find out about Shadow Universe, The Same River, and Torn Between Two Worlds.
This Shadow Universe release is quite an exciting find. Subtle Realms, Subtle Worlds released back in March, and I earmarked it then, but only just now have started to listen. The band hails from Slovenia, and includes Peter Dimnik on guitars, piano, and synths, and Žan Šebrek on drums and percussion. You’ll also hear Ana Novak on violin and Gašper Selko on trumpet.
How to describe this music? Shadow Universe could be labelled as post-rock, but that is far from all their sound is. Their music is more organic, more multi-faceted, and more dynamic than your typical post-rock band. You’ll hear basically an entire cinematic score on this record, but it is set to the shoegaze elements of post-rock along with plenty of metal moments and even some folk leanings.
With all these aspects in play, the band somehow manages to keep them all under control. That is the most impressive thing about their sound: control and balance. So, songs like “Organism” and “Don’t Look at It and You’ll See It” are profoundly layered and yet sensible experiences. I particularly like that last one for its transitions and explosive second half. Most of the album is like that, though.
All six songs are great. I would also like to mention “Antares Goes Supernova”, a post-rock tune that is played more with synth than with guitar. “Losing Home” is another good one with some trumpet setting it apart from the rest of the album. Overall, this is a grand record, one that should please listeners of all kinds.
Another great find comes from Greek band The Same River. I honestly found this band while searching for Riverside’s song of the same name on YouTube, but their sounds are quite different. Weight of the World released back in May and the band includes: Diamond Pr on vocals, guitars, and synths, Theodore Ntilgeris on guitars, Dimitris Georgopoulos on bass, and Fivos Katsifloros on drums.
Unlike the previous band, The Same River has a pretty simple sound to describe. They play a bluesy, heavy rock with elements of psychedelia and stoner rock. I would say that Alice in Chains is a major influence here, which is probably why I’m drawn to their music. Expect lots of bass, grunge guitars, and emotional vocals.
I really like this album, I do. I would point out that most of the songs sounds pretty similar, so even now I’m having difficulty remembering which ones I like best. That said, the album is smooth and appealing, and it is easy to lose yourself in it while it flows past you. I especially like the subtle psychedelic elements that are applied rather conservatively throughout the album. I feel like the band’s path lies in that direction. I would love to hear the spacey and trippy parts become more and more a part of their focus. Still, this release itself is a great listen.
Some bands have a sound that is just pure pleasure. I feel like Sweden’s Torn Between Two Worlds possesses this quality. Their debut EP is called As If We Never Existed, and the band consists of a duo: Sarah Jezebel Deva and Chris Rehn. Fun fact: Chris was part of Evergrey between In Search of Truth and Recreation Day. I assume he played live gigs for them.
TBTW has an extremely melodic sound. They at first come across as a symphonic metal band, which is due to the liberal use of keys and orchestrations. Their sound is a whirlwind of riffs and melodies, for sure. They are, however, part of the Gothic scene in Sweden, too, so their music is darker and richer, I feel. Also, and this is just a guess, their band name seems like either a nod towards the split between symphonic and Gothic metal, or it could be a nod towards their obvious pop influence split from their heavy sound. I’m not sure which it is.
Look, all five songs are fantastic. They all have an airy sound with outstanding vocals from Sarah, but they are also plenty heavy and satisfying in that way. The first two tracks, “The Beauty of Deception” and “Transparent” contain all these qualities and all the hooks you could want. These two certainly know how to write a strong and fetching chorus.
I have to mention the Adele cover, don’t I? Yes, the final track is a cover of “Hello” by Adele. I confess that I had never heard the original until recently, and so I have no attachment either to Adele or this song. To my ears, TBTW has added a layer of heaviness that really suits the song, and Sarah’s voice is certainly just as good as Adele’s, if not better. I honestly think it’s an amazing cover, through and through. And the whole EP is amazing. You’ll find yourself wanting to listen to it over and over again, I hope. I know I have.
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