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Iamthemorning - Belighted CD (album) cover

BELIGHTED

Iamthemorning

 

Crossover Prog

3.84 | 338 ratings

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Zitro
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Two years ago, a virtually unknown Russian band released a debut with chamber classical orchestration, gorgeous multi-layered vocals, and the occasional modern rock touch. Very few initially noticed it, but eventually by word of mouth, it became an unexpected favorite 2012 album in progressive rock, despite the scarcity of progressive rock elements. Listeners there mainly rated on songwriting and enjoyment.

Now, we have a second iamthemorning album, expanding on the elements from the first album. A confident, mature album that will likely bring rave reviews all over the place given the band is not as obscure as in 2012.

The music is once again heavily influenced by classical music. Vocals and piano continue creating the foundation of the music, with orchestral instrument, drums, and modern rock sounds adding layers whenever needed. Even the modern rock sounds are used in a very classical, 'iamthemorning' way.

The added complexity of the music was a risk. After all, the debut's instantly rewarding melodies and its safe, if brilliant, songwriting approach made it very difficult for many listener to honestly hate such an album. Now, we're dealing with complexity levels more to the tune of classical music and progressive rock. This is now easily categorized as progressive rock, with less direct melodies, knotty musical ideas, occasionally long songs, more in-depth instrumentation and lyricism. The risk is that I enjoyed the first listen less than the first listen of the debut. However, I cannot decide which album I prefer now. I feel like this one has a few minor flaws based on the risk-taking approach, compared to the near-perfection pop of the debut. However, there are even more 'WOW!' moments here in my opinion, some of the very best musical passages I perceive to come across.

Flaws? I seem to only gripe about the slow development of their last full song, the samples in 'Howler' and the beginning of 'K.O.S' with a repetitive, awkward drum beat and one-chord guitar riff. Luckily, the latter two songs are overall highly interesting and dynamic songs otherwise, which is why I said the flaws are not severe as they involve a small fraction of two songs.

Strengths? It's hard to name them all. The intermissions remain impressive. The first one has such a captivating atmosphere, I can't imagine anyone being hard-pressed to say 'nah' and stop playing the album. The fourth intermission (titled XII) almost reaches song-like status in length, starting with classical violin and continuing with mesmerizing piano. The last intermission is almost transcendental in a spiritual sense.

And then you have the songs and they are so, so good. All those subtle melodies and exciting instrumentation in 'Howler', the beautiful 'To Human Misery' with a very captivating main melody yet also with a lot of subtle instrumentation. I should try not to overuse the phrase 'subtle complexity', but I think that word really describes this album. Subtle complexity is what makes this album work so well: you latch on into some obvious melodies on first listen, but then all those little details won't make you lose interest. Every instrument plays melodies, sometimes simultaneously.

'Romance' and '5/4' sound a bit like more intricate version of Tori Amos music. They are whimsical, enchanting yet quite complex in instrumentation. Those little details like the muted violin melodies and brief 'shredding' electric guitar that somehow sounds mellow. The '5/4' song is mostly in 6/4 actually, but when it shifts to a 5/4 meter playing a carnival-like atmosphere, it's pure genius, even if it sounds like a horrible idea at first listen. It's an odd choice for a single. I thought it would be 'The Simple Story' which is more instantly recognizable with its melodies and the great piano line near the end. 'Crowded Corridors' is possibly their most accomplished composition to date and also their longest by far at nearly 9 minutes. It begins relatively subdued with their typical instrumentation and vocalizations, if more haunting than usual. Something else going for it is the more 'epic', dramatic moments that work incredibly well. It'd be interesting if they revisit this approach to songwriting in later albums. A particular highlight, besides the obvious piano solo in the latter half, is a slow melody at minute 3 being revisited at the very end at a faster pace.

By the way, most of these songs deviate from a typical song structure to help make it more impactful and dynamic. The song 'Gerda' starts very soft and delicate but later sounds very empowering and grand: it's yet another great song. 'Os Lunatum' starts as an outstanding piano + vocal duet, both at their very best, especially during the song's main hook. Guitars later become dominant on the song's instrumental section. The song concludes with a full band sound, the progression from the very beginning being very natural.

'K O S' may be marginally a less enjoyable song here because of that first minute which sounds repetitive and lacks what I like about the band. The rest is an interesting experiment as they veer towards a progressive rock / alternative rock sound without fully losing their trademark vocals, pianos, and subtle way to adding melodic layers. I love the way it ends, reprising the intro in such a way that almost redeems it. The 'Reprise of Light no Light' is another lesser favorite, developing in a slow fashion that sometimes tests my patience. I do love that it, along with the last intermission, ends with peaceful, abstract noise.

In the end, they have accomplished a very difficult feat, given the high standard the set themselves with their debut. This second album is very intelligent music as well as very deep, emotional music. It touches me. In the end, despite the occasional flaw, it's a masterpiece and I anticipate it being consistently among my favorite pieces of music regardless of genre alongside their debut.

Source: Free streaming off soundcloud.

Zitro | 5/5 |

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