Review Summary: A complex but mesmerizing journey through the land of experimental metal.
Italian experimental metal band At The Soundawn are a pretty hard group to pigeonhole, and their sophomore release Shifting
does little to clear the water. For the most part, their sound can be classified as metal: the guitars are distorted, the drums are bombastic, and the growls are….um…growly. What stands out on Shifting
though, is the phenomenal level of variety. Make no bones about it, this is definitely a metal album, but the musical diversity found in nearly every crevasse and around every corner is nothing if not astonishing. At any given point, the listener could find themselves in the middle of a post-rock build up, or a jazzy interlude, or a winding polyrhythmic section with clear Latin influences.
Luckily for At The Soundawn (and their listeners), they have the chops to pull it off. The rhythm section is especially notable. No matter which genre At The Soundawn foray into, it never feels forced or awkward thanks to the skills of their absolutely amazing drummer and bassist. Whether it’s a punishing tirade of guitar riffs, or a slowly building crescendo, At The Soundawn always sound right at home thanks in large part to the ability of their rhythm section to change styles at a moment’s notice. Their drive keeps the album from ever sounding stale or generic. The penultimate track, “Hades” stands out in particular. The song begins with a soothing vocal line, clean delay guitar, and an unassuming drum beat. Before you get settled in though, the clean vocals turn to growls, the guitar line fades, and the drummer explodes into an earth-shaking, drum pattern. But don’t get too comfortable, here comes the trumpet solo with accompanying rim shots.
Every track on this album will take you on a journey, whether it’s the building ambience of “Drifting Lights,” the alternative rock stylings of “Hades,” or the epic voyage through the many dynamic changes of nine minute album closer “Prometheus Bring Us The Fire.” Casual fans of metal need not be deterred by the band’s “proper” genre; Shifting is not an album that can be easily described by picking a couple of your favourite musical buzzwords (dude, this is like, post-progressive-sludgecore). There is truly something for everyone on Shifting