Review Summary: Daniel Victor cheers up, moves on, and delivers us his best outing to date.
Daniel Victor is one moody guy. Only he could think a seventy-nine minute CD consistent of entirely ballads was a good idea. And yet, with his 2005 release of Act 1: Goodbye Friends of the Heavenly Bodies, he somehow made it work. By drafting what was essentially an army of guest vocalists, he created a surprisingly varied, yet still deeply sorrowful emotion trip. Now, two years later, he aims to improve the formula he created, with his latest release, Act II: The Blood and the Life Eternal
Immediately, this album makes itself known to you. While Act I was content to play the passive-aggressive game, Act II has power beneath its words, and it delivers the point easier and more effectively. The production values have obviously aided Victor. No longer do songs feel veiled (unless he wants them to.) The increased presence of drums and ambient electronics make the songs take on new life and let Victor explore the different sides of depression.
The variety of Act II is actually quite surprising, considering the focus strictly on ballads. The World is Darker
sounds surprisingly like a Nine Inch Nails song, if Trent Reznor was a girl that could actually sing. The song contains something that previous NWL fans might not expect: an actual “groove”. It’s catchy, it’s fun, and Auf De Maur provides great vocals. The songs continue to diversify, as Nothing I Can Save
sounds like a deliciously western twist on radio rock, while Theme From The Blood and the Life Eternal
is Victor’s spin on piano driven gospel hymns, right down to the chorus of angels.
Of course, the focus is still primarily on catchy but somber tunes, and once again, Victor executes them like no other. Dove Coloured Sky
features everything a good ballad should: beautiful vocals (courtesy of Jimmy Gnecco), a lovely string accompaniment, and a dramatic climax that, though right at the start of the album, could arguably be one of the CD’s highlights. For those looking for a more somber tune, the fittingly titled Black Is The Colour Of My True
is a perfect fit, sparse but for lovely piano and a well-executed acoustic guitar part, until a chilly climax of strings and female vocals closes the song in style.
While again Victor has recruited a great deal of different vocalists to interpret his pieces of music, this time around it doesn’t feel as much like an obvious gimmick. It’d be hard to do any real name-dropping with the musicians that he’s brought on this time (as was done with Dallas Green’s part in his massive single “The Grace”), but perhaps that’s the point. The focus this time is simply finding the best vocalists for the job, and this time, he picks them perfectly. The emotion captured from the multiple voices is simply stunning, and the effect really must be heard to understand.
Once again, Victor wrote and performed nearly all of the music of the album. While the musicianship is far from stellar technicality, that isn’t the point. This is minimalism at it’s finest; multiple simple parts layered together to create effectively an orchestra of beauty. However, he does give us some very new things to focus on musically. Lead single Always
is like nothing he has ever attempted: a fast, high energy guitar driven “punk-pop” song featuring only his vocals. It’s so wonderfully unexpected, and contains even more surprised that Victor pulls out of his hat (shouted gang vocals, anyone?)
Act II: The Blood and The Life Eternal
is certainly a departure from Neverending White Light’s debut album. It’s less of a ride through a clinically depressed mind, and more of a display of exactly what Victor can do; namely, write simple, clean, and emotional songs in nearly any sub-genre. The diversity present helps keeps the album from becoming repetitive (the CD is every bit as long as Act I), and, at the moment, it’s as close to perfect as Daniel Victor has ever come.
- The World Is Darker
- Nothing I Can Save
- A Dove Coloured Sky