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Panic Room - Incarnate CD (album) cover

INCARNATE

Panic Room

 

Crossover Prog

3.62 | 58 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Second Life Syndrome
3 stars Well, if I've learned anything as a music fan, I've learned that you can never expect every anticipated album to meet all expectations. After being blown away by a few albums so far this year, I had high hopes for Panic Room's follow-up to "Skin", an incredible album full of atmosphere and eclectic attitude. "Incarnate", though, is neither the same type of album nor as good of one, either. With that said, though, "Incarnate" is a wonderful album still.

The beautiful cover art of this new album may give some clue as to the contents. The music is very heartwarming, slow (for the most part), and rather simple. While that may be, it is also quite beautiful. It is an album of songs, plain and simple. The band didn't set out to make some masterwork of progressive proportions, but instead made a lovely album featuring excellent songwriting and some thoughtful lyrics. I did appreciate the latter, as the lyrics on songs like "Nothing New" and the title track are rather philosophical in nature. I wasn't really expecting this, but I love it just the same.

The main presence here is the vocal skills of Anne-Marie Helder. Her exceptional voice is on full display here. She wows again and again whether in both difficult and simple lines. She doesn't even seem to struggle at all, and masters both soaring melodies and low, personal verses with ease. Her rich, full voice is something this band couldn't live without, and her sense of style and presence is rather remarkable.

I think what disappoints me most about this album are the musical choices. Anne-Marie is flawless here, but the choice to tone down the interesting aspects of Panic Room's sound was not a good one. "Skin" featured organic violin passages among an eclectic array of instruments. It really set the album apart, for sure. "Incarnate" has none of this. There is a little sprinkling here and there of guitar genius and the like, but the music is mostly rather simple and low-key. None of the instruments stand out really, though there are some tasty keyboards here and there, especially on the title track or on "Start the Sound". Everything else seems so disappointingly "blah" and just kind of there. There is so much room for experimentation and for more layers of sound, but the band seems just to play it safe.

That said, this is still a good album. It's still enjoyable and very gorgeous in many ways. Heck, the vocals alone make the album worth a purchase. I also won't say there are any bad songs on "Incarnate", though I can't seem to connect with "Into Temptation" at all. There is a bit of a cheese factor on a few (such as "The Waterfall"), but nothing too over the top. My favorites include the wonderful "Start the Sound", "Incarnate", the gorgeous "The Waterfall", and the especially atmospheric "Dust". "Nothing New" and "All That We Are" are both noteworthy, as well.

Panic Room has provided us with a lovely soundtrack moving into Spring, and I think the delicate, subtle nature of this album is very appropriate. It is definitely missing something, however, but not enough to keep me from enjoying it. I don't think "Incarnate" will end up at the top of any list for 2014, and I'm afraid it will be forgotten as the year moves on. Yet, if you have the desire, definitely take a look at this simple and beautiful album.

3.5 stars

Second Life Syndrome | 3/5 |

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