Review Summary: An emotional, as much as cerebral observation on the facets of vintage rock and their fusion.
In the early ‘80s, through the Cosmos series of documentaries, astronomer Carl Sagan posited that mankind descends from stars that once were, thus yielding yet another popularization of the conservation of energy and matter, and their ongoing transformation from one form to another and vice versa. Could an analogous statement be inferred about the workings of human cognition/learning" By default, the latter involves the non-trivial honing of external stimulae and existing knowledge, and the spontaneous and/or toiling derivation of new concepts from legacy ones, concepts that, in hindsight, may or may not feel as if they have been there all along. This uncertainty could be translated visually, to the darkly visage portrayed on the cover of Into the Long Night
, a camouflaged mosaic of two clusters of brains, supposedly looking at opposite directions. This rather inconspicuous fractality depicted on the album art, feels central to the seemingly simple, utterly emotional, as much as cerebral take of The Sonic Dawn on the facets of vintage/blues, psychedelic and progressive rock and their fusion.
Temporally, the comfort zone of these Danes is entrenched by the ‘60s and the meddling of garage rock with the then nascent psychedelic/progressive rock appendages that would be thoroughly unfolded towards the unknown, in the decade to follow. However, The Sonic Dawn sound as if they have taken a trip forward in time (decades beyond the ‘70s), on a safari for tricks that would make their voice resonate at a different frequency. In doing so, these Danes are not aping the arcane technical whereabouts nominally present in vintage rock revival. Their sound is modern yet omniscient in paying full service to the voices and the stack of instruments that tessellate Into the Long Night
. Looking from afar, the album is a straightforward affair songwriting-wise, yet in almost all its pockets, musical nuclei are put to work so as to cement a keen sense of relative disarray, that ends up spicing the The Sonic Dawn’s sophomore effort.
Cases in point are non-trivial combos of musical, technical, and lyrical context; the funky and floating theme of “On The Shore” recurrently passes the baton to a bluesy chorus, for the loop to be exited in a snap of the finger with a casual jazzy jam that leads-in the track to an abrupt, yet far from vexing close. Counter to its exceedingly agreeable mood, the lyrics in “As of Lately” echo the worries and demons befallen by troubled individuals. The shuffling blues/proto-doom rock of “Six Seven”, unexpectedly collides with a raging ‘60s rock n’ roll segment with flutes, guitars and rhythm section encompassing a completely different pace, as if someone has suddenly changed the radio station on a classic AM receiver. “Numbers Blue”, a rant over the greed of “money men” of this world, is nearing its end with a layer of instrumental cacophony wrinkling the cut’s predominant, swinging groove. However, the apex point of the progressive rock incentive in this album, is none other than the highlight “l’Espion” (French for “The Spy”) in which brooding/soothing atmospheric undertones, are echoed as the band swiftly glides between passages of different time signatures, bringing in mind outfits of entirely different context and origin (Vaya Con Dios, Meshuggah – yeah, yeah I know, I compare apples to oranges...).
The above said, only “Lights Left On” is reminiscent of the pleasant simplicity and naivete found in The Sonic Dawn’s debut album. Therein, the arrangements were solely based on simple, volatile and short-lived jams of little resemblance to what is the norm in its succeeding album. The comparison of the two albums gives the (probably erroneous) impression, that the Danes are now more proficient at their instrumental duties. Being a power trio, cohesiveness is a given. Although the spotlight is usually focused on the vocals and the guitars/bass, special mention is due to the band’s drummer/percussionist Jonas Waaben because contrary to most contemporary “olden rock” rhythm sections, he constantly provides that extra locomotive throughout the album. What’s almost beyond dispute however, is that The Sonic Dawn are far better song composers now, ergo equally good or better material should be anticipated in future releases.