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Subsignal - Beautiful & Monstrous CD (album) cover





3.93 | 190 ratings

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5 stars Not at all monstrous, simply beautiful.

Ex-Sieges Even duo Arno Menses and Marcus Steffen have written a prologue to a new chapter in the story of neo-prog by forming a project named Subsignal, hopefully to continue the legacy of its successor. The band´s debut album Beautiful and Monstrous may very well mark the rendezvous point for the band members´ musical past in SE and a promising future with yet-undiscovered soundscapes of Subsignal.

As said, Beautiful and Monstrous is undoubtedly influenced by the sound of SE, being a treat for everyone who missed the band´s music after its split in 2008. But Subsignal is by far more than that. In addition to well-composed melodies the band seems to aim for greater variety in musical expressions. This versatility is pretty refreshing. For example you can easily find similarities to the bands like IQ (in Paradigm, I Go With the Wind), Frost* (in Where Angels Fear To Tread, The Trick Is To Keep Breathing) and, surprisingly, Porcupine Tree (in Walking With Ghosts, Rain Is The Most Beautiful Color).

The album is a variation between mellow rock compositions and more complex progressive parts.Subsignal shows that they do not hesitate to play and experiment with different moods in their music. Perhaps the most noticeable example of that is the masterful use of melodies, vocals (including backing vocals) and effects.

Also, Subsignal seems to operate in a narrow field of contemporary progressive rock, a field which I call ´European´. Their powerful guitar riffs and yet slightly melancholic themes give their music a unique sound that very few bands in the field could achieve (Riverside, Porcupine Tree to name some). They get personal. This is also why I consider this album more suitable for listening with your headphones than on loudspeakers - the thought provoking content could ruin the party for some.

But what is there to miss then? At some point during the album I realised that it is two steps short from perfection. Personally, with such well-composed music I would have expected more virtuous and ripe instrumentals, especially soloing and drumming (this can be forgiven, as Beautiful and Monstrous is only the first album for this line-up of musicians). Also some of the ballads lack progressive element which somewhat lessens the overall powerful emotion from the album.

Nevertheless, Subsignal´s Beautiful and Monstrous is one of the most remarkable findings from 2009 and definitely a very strong album in the field of neo-prog. Recommended.

Oliverum | 5/5 |


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