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Dark Suns - Grave Human Genuine CD (album) cover

GRAVE HUMAN GENUINE

Dark Suns

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.84 | 67 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

laplace
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Hopefully, Dark Suns' ultimate goal is this: to write an album that sounds more like itself than its influences. Grave Human Genuine forges a certain distance ahead but doesn't entirely escape similarity with four cornerstones of interesting metal - Tool, Opeth, Anathema and Pain of Salvation - still, the album offers much more variety than any of them thanks to superior songwriting and a subtle sensitivity with which arguably similar bands (such as recent Porcupine Tree) cannot compare. We also find that the band has not only a broad range between soft and heavy, but a second axis that lets them explore realms outside of metal, the music also spanning acoustic rock, a modern day King Crimson-like future world music persona, a menacing, super-Ulveric trip-hop and a sort of modest, thinking-person's sludge, never hopping quickly enough to rob the songs of consistency, nor the band of a personality.

This all adds up to a wonderfully insidious album which employs the strengths of doomy traditional metal while shedding its excesses (harsh vocals are reined in and dispensed only at suitable moments, and there's almost no double pedalling, no heroic soloing and no Iron Maiden-style song structure at all) and twisting its efficient core around a peculiar and experimental strain of atmospheric progressive rock. The vocalist can sing respectably, in a passingly fey way, but sometimes chooses to haunt the music with whispers and half-sung declarations, rarely remaining in the same mode for two consecutive lines. Instrumentation differs noticeably between passages and synths play an important and sometimes emphasised role, granting The Chameleon Defeat with a heavy symphonic atmosphere. If you've read some of my other reviews - or my regrettable forum posts - then you'll know that I have a distaste for guitar over-saturation, so you'll be relieved to know that I thought the guitars were played with a meticulous ear for space and a composer's feel for aptness. Walls of sound do still occur, but this is metal, after all, and innovative enough to admit without complaint.

The rhythms are something really special, so the relevant section should be proud of themselves as thanks to them, a lot of the songs show the effortless confidence you'd associate with Tool's music and involve more musical progression - Dark Suns can do calmness and texture as well as anyone, but can also bring touches of perversion (a good thing!), disquiet and jazz-informed sophistication when it's necessary. Their songs aren't circular at all, mostly being embellished updates on traditional ballad structure, possessing of a certain pre-occupying quality which allows them to remain unpredictable. By this reviewer's standards, a rare success in metal.

If you're reading this review and imagining you'll like the album, then go confirm your suspicions by listening the sample here; Flies in Amber should be a break-out track by anyone's standards, showing a band conscious of - as their album cover hints - musical genuinity, who push their compositional talents to the fore and then play the song with personality and guile. Notice that although passages were repeated, the song's rotates enough for ten whole minutes that it can still surprise at the last.

If there's anything amiss on Grave Human Genuine then blame the lyrics, which can clunk. That's nothing unusual in metal, but it feels strangely regrettable to have overwrought and archly ambiguous/ambiguously arch philosophons spoken over such finely-tuned music, ambitious in a quiet, unpretentious way. All's not lost, though - there are often lengthy instrumental sections and the voice isn't overpowering at any time on the album. Perhaps you'll like the texts more than I did.

A note on extremism: Dark Suns aren't guilty! While most metal bands who dabble in harshness like to riff you into a catatonic state with inevitability and chromed distortion, Dark Suns mete out vicious heaviness in tight doses, never more than required. No, they aren't going to pummel you into the ground like Bolt Thrower, because their music has a different concern - being entertaining in more than one style. I'm a heathen mixtape compiler but it'd feel wrong to disassemble Grave Human Genuine because, since each song occupies a different principality of the band's world, taking one track from the album would give the wrong impression. Yes, this is usually the way defense of a weak concept album reads, but you can believe in me - I don't care about concepts at all so I have the music in mind. ;P

I think I'd recommend this album to people who *aren't* into progressive metal because this is a sweet exception with no cheesy or monomaniacal properties. I'll keep my eyes on Dark Suns because if they continue to progress, to grow and to keep becoming that little bit harder to compare with bands whose names come more readily to mind, they'll make your next landmark album, and hopefully, mine. Four stars, and my favourite new album thus far into 2008.

laplace | 4/5 |

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