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Shamall - Turn Off CD (album) cover

TURN OFF

Shamall

 

Neo-Prog

3.91 | 208 ratings

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dogprog
5 stars Shamall's "Turn Off" has blown my mind away. As a fan of everything from Pink Floyd to Camel, Steven Wilson, Ayreon to Eloy and other psychedelic stuff, I was hooked on this album from the very first moment. This is truly great prog, composed and arranged in a way that at one turn drops your jaw with unimaginable complexity, swells your heart with enlightened melody and harmony in the next, and on rare occasions churns both together in a perfect alchemy of left/right brain ecstasy. This is "Turn Off" from Shamall - an absolutely devious ocean of sound from a band that surprises me with any release again.

We like to draw comparisons for the sake of explaining something new, but while I might say "What happens if you cross Ayreon with Pink Floyd?" or "Manfred Mann with Alan Parsons"? These descriptions take away from the cohesive sound and vision that Shamall has crafted here. While you can certainly imagine any number of influences - Shamall stands alone. Shamall is an impressive "confluence of influence" which is drawing from such a diverse history yet is immediately and directly identifiable as unique.

In an epic year like 2013 that included "The Raven That Refused to Sing" from Steven Wilson, Lucassen's "Theory of everything", Riverside's "Shrine of new generation slaves" or Haken's "The Mountain", the fact that "Turn Off" is consistently in my player is another proof for its quality.

Turn Off is a neo-progressive journey meant to be listened to from the beginning. In this case "Shine a Light" which is a soft key track which reminds me of the famous playing of Rick Wright on the PF album "Wish you were here" that prepares you for the wonders to follow. The guitar part here is repeated periodically during the album's course. It's almost hymn-like. This tune leads into the emotional track "It's been a long time" which is a song with female vocals that soulfully introduce the theme of the album. The following song "Shout it out" is a straight and powerful "4/4 measure" rock track with a most impressive bassline.

During the course of "The devil never sleeps", "Never before and "Playing for the ashes" Shamall shows numerous opportunities which provide the connections between electronic music and multi-facetted progressive rock, but are under control 100% of the time as they shift styles.

Early in this album it became apparent that Shamall places heavy emphasis on smooth changes between guitar attacks and synthesizer atmospheres with long faraway keyboard solos. The melodies they come up with through their instruments are as jaw dropping as the guitar riffs and the off-the-wall keyboards. But if you think you've figured out Shamall through these previous tracks, you are mistaken, as they follow up with the spaced-out songs "Voices part I and Voices part II" This particular tracks are lyrically all about anti-nuclear energy and musically Shamall aren't afraid to test the patience of anyone without an open mind. Again with the layered vocal attack to start, the song becomes partly "floydish" with dark psychedelic elements, a sensitive female voice, a crazy bridge section, another vocal part and ends with an incredible guitar-solo. An 18 minutes track in two parts. Essential listening.

From there, Shamall aren't done showing you what they're capable of. "Too many People" is a very soulful shorter track with a beautiful saxophone solo as introduction and very emotional female vocals followed by another great floydish keyboard solo in "Too many People Part II". "So much is on the line" is the last track on the first disc of this double album which underlines Shamall's versatility and offers a lot of moments full of goosebumps.

"Diversion", "The Creeping Dead", "Reflective", "Clouds obscure the sun" and "Horrible nightmare" are an indivisible unit and definitely my favourite tracks. I love the vocals, especially the female voice in "The Creeping Dead". These tracks are completely mind-blowing and the off-the-wall work of every instrument is awesome. An absolute ingenious opus. "At the end of Time" and "The hidden enemy" show one more time again how easy it seems to be for Shamall to create uplifting songs. Starting with infernal Effects "At the end of Time" turns into an immortal tune. "The hidden enemy" has one more keyboard-solo which gets under the skin.

Close your eyes and listen to "Companion of Fortune": A firework of keys and guitars will blow your mind away once again. Rarely I've heard a thrilling guitar-solo like the one in this track. "Wounded World" seems to be the suffering sung "Outro" of "Companion of Fortune". Last but not least the title tracks "Turn Off" and "In these days" finalize this awesome double-album.

In the end, plenty of ear candy for the prog fan community, lots of sounds to discover with repeated listens, but also huge ear-worms that you will hum all day, even after listening to other albums. I can't recommend this album enough to any prog rock/neoprog or spacerock fan. This album is at the top of the heap for my alltime favs.

dogprog | 5/5 |

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