Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ghost Cries - Purgatorium (2021)

Country: Japan
Style: Symphonic Black/Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 24 Nov 2021
Sites: Facebook | Metal Archives | Official Website | Twitter | YouTube

The Japanese are known for taking things to extremes; whatever it is that you do, there's likely to be someone in Japan doing it more. The latest example of this for me are Ghost Cries from Tokyo, who tend to be listed as symphonic black/death metal and fairly so but, if you're imagining it right now, it's that squared. The best word I can conjure up is "frantic" as this often feels like shred, but with shredding being done on every instrument at once. I haven't felt this overwhelmed since the latest Fleshgod Apocalypse album.

But it works. I listened to Sin of Justice, the opening onslaught, four times, then watched the official video, before continuing onto the rest of the album, just to figure out what they're doing. It's deceptively calm and symphonic a little way into the song, but keyboard runs and drum fills appropriately hint that it's not going to stay that way for a long and, sure enough, the initial vocals signal "go!" in no uncertain terms. No, I don't mean the number five in Japanese, I mean "unleash the kraken!" It's a good thing that this band is so tight, because this could go horribly wrong in so many ways if the musicians weren't up to the challenge. And that's what this song is: a challenge that they meet.

I tried to follow individual instruments in some of those repeat listens, but I kept failing. If I tried to follow the drums, which are so emphatic that it feels as if there are at least two drummers, I'd succeed for a while but suddenly I'd realise that I'd switched my focus to the keyboards without my active brain noticing the change. The two guitars feel like four and the vocals show up in multiple styles, depending on what the song needs. They're clean for two and a half minutes, then there's a harsh verse ending with a gorgeous and well-timed scream that's all the more impactful for not being acknowledged. Rinse and repeat but with a narrative section midway for good measure.

It's amazing to me how the band got all this into one song that's only a breath over seven minutes long. And there are seven more to come. Frankly, just listen to that one. If it's not your thing, then nothing else here is going to remotely convince you, but if it is your thing, then you've bought this already on the basis of that one song along and my job of providing discovery is done and I'm able to shut up now and be done.

Frankly, there isn't much more to say. Ghost Cries describe their sound as "dramatic death metal", focusing on the vocals, the extreme blastbeats and the symphonic atmosphere. I could add that it all serves the purpose of texture. The clean and harsh vocals don't duet or contrast; they're there to meet whatever textural need the song has at any particular point of time. I'd suggest that this holds true for every other element, including the blastbeats and symphonic keyboard overlays, to the degree of the gothic piano that shows up here and there and occasional effects like dripping water that bookend Demigoddess. Everything's there for texture.

And what that means is that nobody's going to pick a favourite song here on the basis of riffs and hooks and melodies. It's all going to come down to the textures that speak to you. For me, it's Sin of Justice and Demigoddess, with the closer, Phantom of the Kingdom, not far behind. You might pick completely different songs and that's fine. We're all different and we like different textures. But, if you like dense, gothic, dramatic music where six people seem to be playing lead at once, I'd suggest that you're going to find your texture here.

There Was a Yeti - Gravitational Waves (2021)

Country: Canada
Style: Post-Rock
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 19 Nov 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | YouTube

I can't find much online about There Was a Yeti, but I'd certainly like to know more. The band may not even be a band, just one guy from Alberta, Canada; the location is a given, but that's about it. The only other absolute is that this is instrumental music. I'd call most of it post-rock, because it's aiming at creating soundscapes with what appears to be traditional rock instrumentation: guitar, bass and drums, though I'm pretty sure there are keyboards here too, even if they're not obvious all the time. Occasionally, it ventures into post-metal too, but that's far from consistent across an array of nine tracks that amount to a generous seventy minutes of music.

On the opener, Massif, that's done by heavying up the piece considerably, literally moving from its initial post-rock approach into a post-metal one. Sometimes, though, such as on the title track, it's a texture. This one's a post-rock song, but the post-metal crunch is added somewhat for effect into the background, as if whoever's playing the heavy stuff is in the next studio over with all the doors left open so that the sound clearly bleeds through. I like the contrast, with a softer echoey guitar noodling away as our foreground and the slightly subdued crunch behind it. I'm not convinced that I like it more than the softer songs on their own though.

Gravitational Waves is a long piece, exceeding ten minutes, but it still fades out if it still had more to tell if only there wasn't a time limit pressing. There's some intricate drumming right at the end of the song that particularly caught my attention and I wanted a lot more of that, but I wanted in vain. I should add that this isn't the only piece in double digits, Leviathan an epic closer indeed at fourteen minutes. The shortest piece here is Simulation, at four and a half, but it feels more like a calm interlude before things liven up considerably on Caligula's Favourite Pastime.

This is one of the heaviest songs on the album and it features a lot of intricate changes, so it could be categorised as instrumental progressive metal as much as post-metal. Boundaries do blur, but this one crosses it pretty emphatically. And that just makes me wonder who's actually playing the instruments because they deserve praise. Sure, the guitar is always at the forefront of everything that There Was a Yeti does, but there are some great moments not on the guitar, like the drums late in Gravitational Waves or the keyboard bookends to Simulation.

Talking of Simulation, it may be the shortest track here but it's easily my favourite. That keyboard intro is neat but, when the guitar takes over, it does so with the west African highlife tone that's a constant source of happiness to me. It's impossible for anybody's spirits not to be bucked up when listening to highlife and that works just as here too. This one's a jazzy piece as well, especially as it gets going, so it keeps us on the hop even as it's cheering us up.

And, even though I have a metal heart, I much prefer the softer pieces here mixing highlife guitar improvisations with jazzy beats. They're not particularly challenging, but Simulation and Renjo La and The Lion's Daughter are delightful. Sure, Renjo La does build for a while in its second half with power chords and drum fills, but it still does what it did, merely with an added layer of emphasis. I don't dislike the heavier pieces, but they don't feel anywhere near as free or natural. After only a single time through the album, I noticed that I was thinking about skipping forward through most of the heavier songs to get to the more introspective pieces. That's telling.

And so I think this is a 6/10. I enjoyed it and the talent on display by whoever's in this band is clear, but I can't past the feeling that I should have enjoyed some of it more than I did.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

The Darkness - Motorheart (2021)

Country: UK
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 19 Nov 2021
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | Twitter | Wikipedia | YouTube

It's hard to imagine anyone not liking the Darkness because they're so infectious. They don't have a single sound, unless we can simply label them lively or energetic, so they're not pigeonholeable. And, even if that isn't a real word, it seems like one that they might use themselves, given a sense of humour that pervades everything they do. Most bands wouldn't be able to get away with a song like Welcome tae Glasgae at the beginning of the album, especially when not a single member is actually from Glasgow. I'm not sure the Darkness do either, but they come closer than they ought to.

It's a wacky song, with an overdone opening built out of bagpipes, martial drums and even wilder falsetto vocals from Justin Hawkins than usual. It settles down a little and rocks, but I can't say it's particularly coherent. Then again, I've been to Glasgow. It's a vibrant city but, yeah, I can't really say it's particularly coherent either. My biggest problem is with the lyrics, because they state "the women are gorgeous and the food is OK." I'm not going to diss on any Scottish lassie, but I have an abiding craving for the African restaurant down the stairs next to my hotel when I was there last. They're a heck of a lot better than merely OK! I hope it survived COVID.

From that opening, the band settle down a little. I emphasise a little because they veer around an array of genres while never losing their rock base. It's Love, Jim's verses seem like Britpop rocked up a few levels. There's AC/DC all over the place, most clearly on The Power and the Glory of Love, and there's Queen everywhere too, especially on Sticky Situations. Eastbound dabbles in country rock, even with prominent plugs for what I assume are favourite British pubs for the band. And it's happy to wrap up in new wave and post-punk on Speed of the Nite Time, which reminds of nobody if not Gary Numan.

That's not to forget the glam rock that underpins most of this. The band obviously grew up with a good stack of Slade records and they played them a lot. There's a nod to Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl on Jussy's Girl, just with the Darkness's pixie-like humour: "And if you don't wanna be Jussy's girl, have you got a friend who looks just like you but maybe isn't as fussy and wants to be with Jussy?" Talking of humour, the title track isn't light years away from Tim Minchin's Inflatable You except in how much it rocks. It covers much the same ground lyrically: "I never had much luck with women so I bought myself a droid."

With such variety on offer, different song leap out for special attention on each listen through. It really is the sort of album that changes in your mind, depending on your mood at the time, which I remember well from Queen, for whom drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor still plays when needed in the place on the stage that his dad made famous. Talking of Queen, Sticky Situations keeps growing on me, and I can't resist Nobody Can See Me Cry when it simply barrels along in between verses.

However, my favourite song is consistently the title track, which was released as the album's first single in August. It has a particularly killer opening, starting out simply, adding an ethnic flavour as it builds, before getting jagged and experimental for a moment and finally sliding effortlessly into its groove. I often sat back in my chair thinking about how tight this band are, but that went double for the title track. No wonder the Darkness are so well regarded on stage.

The downsides for me are that it can be awkward to appreciate just how damn good this band are when they're messing around on their sillier songs and that Justin Hawkins's falsetto can seem a little overused. But hey, this is what the Darkness do and they've carved a considerably niche out of the rock 'n' roll genre for themselves. That's impressive all on its own but that they're still fun makes it all the better.

Waqas Ahmed - A Perpetual Winter (2021)

Country: Romania
Style: Shred/Progressive Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 14 Nov 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

I reviewed Waqas Ahmed's debut album, Doomsday Astronaut, last year and he kindly sent me his new EP for review with its release date that's exactly one year after its predecessor. As you might imagine, the negative side is that it's short, its six tracks amounting to only seventeen minutes of time; three of them are very brief indeed, interludes reaching a minute or so each. We could well see them each as an intro to the more substantial song that follows it, which interpretation might call this a three track 12" single. The positive side is that it does everything we might expect from Ahmed, but in a more varied mix, so it's a good step forward.

Oddly, for a guitar shredder, the first of those tracks, Warrior in Time, is entirely electronic, but I should note that Ahmed plays almost everything here, not just the guitar: he's responsible for all the guitars, bass and drums and some of the keyboards, with only Sarmad Ghafoor helping out on the latter. I like how balanced this all is, because Ahmed is not a guitarist who can do other things, he's a true multi-instrumentalist, and he gives each of those instruments all his attention as if he hasn't ever seen anything else.

Really, Warrior in Time is a pleasant and peaceful intro to serve as a contrast to Demon Slayer, the track proper that follows it, because that gets right down to business with shredding straight out of the gate. I couldn't help but wonder exactly how quickly this one matches the note count of the opener and it has to be in mere seconds. It's a blitzkrieg of a song, a solid Guitar Hero challenge, but it's enjoyable to simply listen to with some slower sections, electronic parts in the background for flavour and a very liquid guitar tone that varies depending on where the song has got to. It's a portfolio piece, sure, but it's a fun journey for us too.

No Laughing Matter is the next song proper, after a brief interlude called The Hunt. This one adds some different elements to Ahmed's shredding, opening with a doomy riff that's soon echoed by that liquid guitar, as if angels are harmonising with demons. It certainly feels diabolical at points but it also gets bluesy for a while which makes us think that Ahmed has wandered on down to the crossroads, not to sell his soul but to challenge the devil for a guitar made of gold. The only thing that makes this feel any different is that the core theme that Ahmed returns to throughout is an infuriatingly catchy one, to the point that it could be a TV theme tune.

The final track is the title track, following a piano interlude with orchestration called Aftermath, and, to my mind, A Perpetual Winter is the best of the bunch. It starts heavy but gets soulful, with some delightful slower sections that are exactly what I was looking for more of in my prior review. I like Ahmed as a shredder; Demon Slayer is a lot of fun. But I like him more when he's playing like this, soaring above both strings and crunch. I also like the extra ethnic flavour, even it's restricted to hand drums early on, and the way he plays with modern dissonant chords later in the piece.

So, this is good stuff. I liked Ahmed's debut album but I like this more. The only thing I don't like is that it's so short, but hey, I'll take what I can get. What this really boils down to is a three track EP or single with intros to each that sound great but are quickly forgotten in the grand scheme of the release. Now I'm looking forward to his second album all the more. Thanks, Waqas!

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Wolfmother - Rock Out (2021)

Country: Australia
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/10
Release Date: 12 Nov 2021
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | Tumblr | Wikipedia | YouTube

I had a blast with Wolfmother's prior album, Rock 'n' Roll Baby, released right at the end of 2019, even though it was so short that I struggled to call it a full album; a mini-album maybe. This shock release, dropped on the streaming services without any notice, isn't much longer, only squeaking past a half hour by a nose, but it's fundamentally disappointing. It's enjoyable enough to listen to, with all the component parts you might expect from a Wolfmother album but, even on a first time through, it feels off and, rather like the Star Wars movie The Force Awakens, which was enjoyable to watch, it continues to get worse the more we think about it.

Part of that is the production, because this feels more like an unpolished demo recorded on cheap equipment than it does a proper studio release. Now, it was recorded during COVID and the lo-fi aspect is surely deliberate, but it's offputting to me, especially with regards to the vocals, which I could believe were recorded on a broken mike. Part of it is that Wolfmother songs continue to get shorter; half of the ten on offer here fail to reach three minutes and one doesn't even last to two. Like Rock 'n' Roll Baby, the album's over before it's really begun.

And a large part of it is that the whole thing just feels derivative, as if Wolfmother have done this before or that other people did and really didn't care too much. The most overt lack of originality comes on Upload, which I could swear blind is a studio demo of Kiss in 1978 covering the new single by Foreigner called Hot Blooded just because they could, with absolutely no intention of releasing it to the public. It has to be on some collector's edition box set of outtakes somewhere. But all the songs here feel derivative.

Fellin Love (whatever that means) feels like Wolfmother's own Woman, but with a thinner sound than I'm getting listening to that right now on YouTube. Rock Out is back to seventies Kiss again, as are so many of these songs. Humble is almost an Ozzy Osbourne solo song but with guitars edited out and the bass pumped up to a blur in some vain attempt to counter that. Metal & Fire feels like a Joan Jett riff, as do so many others, especially the closer, Walking.

The worst songs wait for the second half. Metal & Fire is so derivative it sounds like every eighties band all at once, but with thinner production than they had back then and with the cheese amped up for no good reason. This one's almost a parody. That it's catchy doesn't help its case. The vocals on Ego are cheap and conversational and that just doesn't work over a fluid guitar that I'm sure I heard on a song on Motörhead's Another Perfect Day album. It's good guitar. It's awful vocals. The result is embarrassing. "Who am I?" is the final line and I wondered that too.

I know some people didn't like Rock 'n' Roll Baby but it did the job for me. It was catchy stuff that felt like Andrew Stockdale cared. Sure, it's ridiculously short but it worked. This one doesn't and I can't imagine fans being too happy with him after this. Maybe dropping it without any fanfare at all was the best approach. It's the easiest way that fans are going to ignore it or treat it more like a bonus than a real album. It wouldn't surprised me if it got yanked back off streaming again and its existence denied.

I try not to post bad reviews, but I like Wolfmother and Rock 'n' Roll Baby made it onto my highly recommended list for 2019. Maybe this will serve as a warning to fans not to bother with it. I'm in public service mode. Unlike that one, this is not highly recommended and it's not recommended in any fashion. Steer clear.

Æxylium - The Fifth Season (2021)

Country: Italy
Style: Folk Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 29 Oct 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives | Official Website | YouTube

Æxylium are a folk metal band from Varese in the very north of Italy, right on the Swiss border, so I was eager to see what local instrumentation they'd bring to bear. Mostly it's flutes and violins, a mandolin often joining them and some bouzouki too. However, their sound is certainly not sourced only from Italy, because there's a lot from much further north, as this often moves away from the pastoral mindset to sea shanties and Viking metal.

It starts out heavy, with The Bridge, which layers folk instrumentation over melodic death metal. There are sections for the flute to shine and the violins and the bass, but it's mostly a heavy song with the harsh male voice of Steven Merani leading the way. He sounds good, raspy but accessible and intelligible. And I should point out before moving onto Mountains that he's the band's singer, because it suddenly seems like he isn't just one song later.

That's because there's a guest vocal on Mountains from Arianna Bellinaso, a clean soprano, who's so well woven into this song that it's very easy to think of her voice as the lead and Merani's as an agreeable texture behind her that steps up to duet with her at points. I don't know who Bellinaso sings for regularly and I have a feeling that she doesn't, because she may only sing metal on the side of classical performances, but Æxylium ought to sign her up permanently because she's just perfect here.

Mountains may be my favourite song, though there's so much variety on offer that it's difficult to compare some of these songs with others. It begins with solo piano then heavies up, though it's a flute that takes the lead. The melodies are excellent and it's this one that stayed in my head over a couple of days. It's just as obviously a metal song as The Bridge but it feels like it's folk metal at its core rather than melodeath. Immortal Blood does much of the same but without Bellinaso and it works well, if not quite as well because of her absence.

And then we start to move around the genre. Battle of Tettenhall begins with sounds of warfare and turns up the choral aspent. There's a male guest here, Samuele Faulisi of the Italian epic folk metal band Atlas Pain, who sings clean; I believe he returns for Vinland and Spirit of the North as well. Skål is a sea shanty in the Alestorm style but folkier and less crunchy. Yggdrasil is very Norse and very emphatic. There's nothing small about it and it's happy about that. Vinland sounds like it ought to be Norse too and it is, with the most obvious call to dance yet. It's a wild and lively one, with accordion and mandolin at the fore.

Even while they shift around the genre, they do a surprisingly good job of defining the core sound of the band, which I'm thinking of as being built around those flutes and violins. Once we get past The Bridge, they're the focal point even above the guitars and harsh vocals. In fact, each half ends with an instrumental piece of folk music, where those other elements notably take a break and it falls to the flutes and violins, with some drums, to really strut their stuff. Am Damhsa Mór could be called an interlude and On the Cliff's Edge a postlude, but they're substantial pieces, not much shy of three minutes each. They're really the bedrock of what Æxylium do, merely without guitars and power and vocals layered over the top.

I think it's Mountains for me over everything else here, with its fantastic female soprano that I'm hoping to hear more of. There are eight musicians in this band; what's one more? I like Yggdrasil a lot too, as the biggest and heaviest song but with its delicacies too, and Vinland following it. And I love those instrumental pieces and could happily listen to an album comprised only of them. Given that I've just highlighted five very different pieces of music, I guess I've underlined how much this album does.

It's only the band's second release, after 2018's Tales from This Land, and, as those titles suggest, they've sung in English throughout. I do wonder what they'd sound like with vocals in Italian, but I wonder more what a full album would sound like with Arianna Bellinaso fully incorporated into its sound. I think that's what I want for Christmas.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Whitechapel - Kin (2021)

Country: USA
Style: Deathcore
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 29 Oct 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives | Official Website | Twitter | Wikipedia | YouTube

I like my deathcore the way I like my death metal, namely varied and with plenty of contrasts. This eighth studio album from Knoxville's Whitechapel is full of contrasts, songs shifting from calming and thoughtful to brutally bludgeoning and usually on a dime. I haven't heard much Whitechapel, but this is consistently solid enough to make me pay a lot more attention.

The most effective contrast is the pairing of Without You, a peaceful minute long interlude late in the album, with Without Us, a song that kicks off so angrily that I almost ducked. The latter moves through calm, bittersweet sections, to more bludgeoning. If it's the story of a relationship, as it certainly seems to be, it's emphatically a turbulent one, as both the lyrics—"This isn't home, it's Hell with a lovely face"—and the contrast in musical style underline.

And much of the album does this, to varying degrees. The lyrics make for depressing reading, emo angst but with a voice of experience. Anticure explains that "This house is poisoned beyond repair and the souls of our past life are trapped on the inside." The Ones Who Made Us, a telling title if I ever saw one, suggests "Deep inside, you know that this is not what we were fighting for." History is Silent adds "It's not okay to have a knife in your chest and still be able to breathe." If that isn't a suicidal song—the repeated refrain of "Put me in my grave" suggesting that it is—then we cannot mistake To the Wolves for anything else: "So long, throw me to the wolves," it pleads. "I'm a lost cause drowning in the weight I pull."

Yet the music offers hope. From the opening of I Will Find You, there are uplifting quieter sections and the heavier ones don't always emulate the depression. Sometimes they just highlight vitality and vibrancy. The lyrics suggest that the narrator has had enough of everything and just wants to die to escape it all, suggestion an emotionless wreck. However the music suggests that he's often happy and often angry and both of those are emotional states. If you can still feel, whatever it is that you feel, then you're still very much alive. This narrator isn't just alive, he's kicking.

The calmer sections often feel like alternative rock, melodic and only a little angsty, never close to emo, while the angrier ones shift unmistakably into deathcore and sometimes almost into death metal. Phil Bozeman's vocals mostly manifest as a rough and raspy shout but, when he speeds up his delivery, as on Lost Boy, they almost become a death growl. It's a little odd to hear two genres ostensibly so far away from each other connect so effectively as contrasts, but that's the joy of the sound Whitechapel nail here.

Just in case that isn't enough, there's not a lot else here. Pretty much everything moves between those couple of contrasts, but there are a few other moments. Anticure has a fantastic intro, which plays out like a grungy southern AC/DC, while the one a song earlier on A Bloodsoaked Symphony has the AC/DC mix with Tool instead. I liked these odd touches and wished there had been more of them. They do elevate those songs, which move into very different territory otherwise. Clearly I'm in need of more Whitechapel.

Compassionizer - An Ambassador in Bonds (2021)

Country: Russia
Style: Progressive Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 1 Oct 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Prog Archives

I didn't find progressive rock until 1984, when Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show sprang it on me at the same time as every other form of rock and metal from Steely Dan to Venom, but I was never in any doubt that it was a gamechanger a decade earlier. I imagined people who had grown up knowing exactly what music was (whatever they grew up listening to) hearing it for the first time and being shocked into wondering what was happening. In the eighties, however, it was just prog rock, as we had come to terms with what it was, put boundaries around it and labelled it off.

I mention that because this second album from Compassionizer, a musical project built around the keyboardist Ivan Rozmainsky, feels like it has to be prog rock but maybe isn't, as it ignores just as many traditions as it adheres to. This doesn't sound like Yes or Genesis or King Crimson, if they're what spring to mind when you think of prog rock. Maybe there's some Canterbury here, especially on The Man That Sitteth Not in the Seat of the Scornful. Maybe there's some krautrock in here, on An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 3), with what sound like seagulls flying out of the synths. However, I'd suggest that it doesn't sound like whichever bands you think of in either of those genres either.

So what else could it be? It isn't jazz, either, even though the main instrument is often the clarinet of Andrey Stefinoff. Yeah, I said Compassionizer was built around a keyboard player and it is, with those keyboards primarily being synths and also frequently harpsichord, as at the very outset on the intro to Follow After Meekness, but this isn't remotely Vangelis or Jean-Michel Jarre. Maybe there's some Tomita here, not that you'd ever confuse the sounds, as the main reason it isn't jazz is that every piece feels carefully built and every moment is precisely what Rozmainsky wants it to be. He's not just playing with the air to see what happens when he does interesting things to it.

And that makes me wonder if the closest comparison ought to be to contemporary composers, not that this is classical music, even with so much harpsichord and clarinet, but it is very deliberate in its composition. Rozmainsky doesn't seem particularly interested in songs with hooks, far beyond this being entirely instrumental; he's much more interested in riffs and rhythms, as well as more esoteric things like contrasts and layers, making a lot of this play out to me like a folk prog take on Philip Glass albums like Glassworks. And there are responses. This album often feels as if it's really a conversation between instruments, especially on An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 1).

If musical experimentation for its own sake sounds like an emotionless endeavour, I should point out that this is very emotional music. Different Sides of Ascension, as the title suggests, plays in a lot of different tones that elicit very different emotions. It moves from cheerful celebration into darker, more thoughtful tones but reemerges somewhat into the light before it ends. I am Sitting on the Pier is wistful. Hard-Won Humility is questioning.

Surely the most striking piece here is the title track, which appears in three very different parts. The first is thoughtful and it shifts from gentle to volatile, with the most overt guitarwork on the album. The second is martial and processional, unfolding in bold brass. The third, later on, returns to pensive and adds playful to the mix, before it gets really interesting with the introduction of an array of layers, undulating like an ocean. I should add that everything here is interesting, so when it gets even more interesting, we ought to pay attention.

If there's a problem here, it's that all these pieces of music feel like they ought to run forever, but they end and usually sooner and less clearly than I wanted them to. It's immersive stuff and I just wasn't ready to climb out of any of it. At least, there's an earlier Compassionizer album for me to check out, 2020's Caress of Compassion, and a whole slew of albums by Rozmainsky's main band, a possibly similar chamber prog outfit called Roz Vitalis, who have released ten studio albums and nine live ones since their founding in 2001, including a 2007 album called Compassionizer. I guess it may be the key to this.