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At War With Self - A Familiar Path CD (album) cover


At War With Self


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.15 | 12 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not technical or prog metal is this outfit of Glenn Snewlar and his collaborators of the moment really - this is pure eclectic modern prog that focuses grandly on the confluence of jazz-rock, prog-metal, space-rock, fusion and ambient. Well, anyway, At War With Self's third effort "A Familiar Path" is a complete testimony of permanent inspiration and constant adventure. It is true that for this one, ATWS has developed a harder edge on the heavy rock and psychedelic sides of the line opf work alread yexplored in the tw oprevious albums, but still the essential core of this ensemble's sonic framework remains robustly firm on the ground of eclectic prog. The albums opens up with an old Snewlar composition that had already worked as one of the major assets of Gordian Knot's debut album: 'Reflections'. In thsi version, the mandolin is introduced in order to provide a refeshing magic in te hacoustic portions, and there is also a slightly enhanced melodic development somwhere in the middle passage. One way or another, oen version or another, it is always a pleasure to listen to this composition, it is so irresitibly appealing. 'Diseased State' is actually another old composition tha texisted before Snewlar became a recording artist: it is a bit closer to the standard of thrash metal, only with more emphasis on the neurosis than on aggressiveness: by thsi number, you can tell that this guy shares lots of conceptions with the guys behind the Canvas Solaris, Cynic and Behold The Archtopus names. The next 9 1/2 minutes of the album are occupied by the namesake track, which is the first sung piece in this repertoire. This one's mood is mostly contemplative and moderately languid, but with this extended timespan there is room for the emergence of some exciting variables whereby the instrumentation shifts toward shades of psychedelic darkness. The final acoustic guitar interventions fulfill the track's scheme quite gloriously. The metal-oriented stamina returns in full swing for 'The Ether Trail' ,which has to be one of the most muscular pieces that Snewlar has ever written, but it is not completely prog-metal: the indsutrial ornaments provided by some synth layers and most of the guitar lines bear a spacey nuance that defines the track's essence to a large degree. 'Ourselves' is the second sung track in the album: its mood is somewhat similar to that of 'Reflections', only a tad denser and a tad less agile. The result of that is that it gains a bit more of sonic power in comparison to the opener. The next thing is a pretext for Snewlar exorcising his academic ghosts: the lovely 'Etude No. 10' by Heitor Villa-Lobos benefits from an extensively creative rearrangement tha tgoes from a meticulous acoustic atmosphere to a sophisticated progressive architecture where fusion and technical metal become one single source of sound. The ending moments make a perfect climax of exquisiteness and dexterity. 'Concrete And Poison' is yet another vibrant exercise on prog-metal that sounds like Fates Warning-meets-Canvas Solaris. 'Hope' ends the album on a reflective note: a solitary guitar delivers calm arpeggios that softly cry out the mixture of melancholy and mental discipline that every hopeful heart should embrace. This is a beautiful way to end such a diverse, intelligently-elaborated album. To my ears, Snewlar is a genuine progressive master guitarist/writer of the new millennium.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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