Review Summary: Can something timeless be created in the modern age?
To put the icing on the cake or to appreciate it for its unadulterated taste? Does the baker feel a bit scorned by patrons who enjoy his already exquisite treat only when garnished and dressed in an extra layer of sticky sweet, or should he glean contentment from providing the ultimate in decadence from outer layer to inner indulgence?
In a recent interview, guitarist and project mastermind Angel Vivaldi stated that he initially struggled with the production on Away With Words
because he felt that keeping up the high production levels seen on the very well-engineered Universal Language
could inexorably bind his music to its life and times. He ended up striving for a more "timeless" sound, entering the studio with a stripped down approach that scrapped many of the layers and effects of his previous album. But can the same sublime yet approachable neoclassical feeling be captured with fewer weapons at the disposal?
The album opens with the same sort of calm breeze we saw on Universal Language
, but with a more gradual slant towards downhill, fast and furious metal mechanics - a pattern that carries on throughout the album. Vivaldi ushers in the loud, low, and heavy early, but only to stand guard for the marble masterpiece of his articulate and classical shredding. The jets only truly kick in just under a minute into the second of the morse code designated tracks and Angel manages his speed and ferocity carefully throughout, making it clear that his primary priorities are lighting his delicate yet furious fretwork with quality and class. This album is a gallery opening for art that is jagged, yet refined, not a simple downhill race.
Unfortunately, in this more gallery-centric approach, we lose out on Universal Language
's passion to approach the classical with a bent of futurism. And we're worse off for it. Structurally and stylistically, many of the songs on Away With Words
resemble the rapid, solo-heavy, lead-driven structures of Universal Language
, but without the unique vantage of hyper-futuristic electronics and layering. Instead of trying to re-imagine marble in a world of steel and plastics, the focus of this album falls on trying to create something timeless in an era where monumental art and incredible technology can be heralded one moment and forgotten the next. Like a statue of Ozymandias in its heyday standing next to a Picasso, Away With Words
feels weightier than its breezy cousin, yet ultimately less purposeful.
Still, the fluid technicality and drive of Vivaldi's virtuoso performance make Away With Words
a worthwhile listen, even if it's more of a gallery item to be admired a few times before moving on to better and brighter things than a consistent talking piece. The bells and whistles do still show themselves from time to time and the caliber of material remains well above the means for progressive metal and virtuoso artists alike, but it still feels like Vivaldi does his sound a disservice by targeting "timelessness" rather than letting it develop on its own. After all, our definition of "timeless" is redefined constantly, and while that same Picasso will be forever heralded as one of art's true treasures, it will never fail to be known as a part of a specific style or artistic movement.
For better or worse, we are all a part of the time we live in, and our work can never escape that. Whether it's frosted or not.