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Subterranean Masquerade - Suspended Animation Dreams CD (album) cover


Subterranean Masquerade


Experimental/Post Metal

4.14 | 89 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Suspended Animation Dreams' - Subterranean Masquerade (8/10)

I had been hearing some great things about this album for a long while before I got around to listening to Subterranean Masquerade's 'Suspended Animation Dreams', and once again, my my musical network has not let me down. Although often called a progressive metal, or avant-garde metal band, there is alot about them that does not fit any of those labels. Suffice to say, 'Suspended Animation Dreams' is an eclectic effort, but it ultimately gives off a lasting impression that keeps me coming back. Although aspects of the band's sound feel somewhat half-baked in comparison to the sheer perfection they reach with others, Subterranean Masquerade's first- and to date, only- album deserves an invested experience from any adventurous listener.

You may have heard of the death metal elements that Subterranean bring to their music, but a listener who may be turned off by death growls should not be thwarted. Of the hour or so length, only a fraction is lent to metal, or heavy things in general. As a whole, Subterranean go for a prog rock sound that's hard to pinpoint in any prog trend. Their music can be acoustic and folky, or jazzy. As one may guess from a track title lie 'Rock n' Roll Preacher', there are also straight up 'rock' moments, where there's nothing particularly weird going on, and the music has an upbeat feel to it. Often, the mellower side of the band could draw comparisons from Pink Floyd. No mistakes made, however; 'Suspended Animation Dreams' is a challenging album, and there is not much out there that sounds like it. Although a listener will likely not confront something they perceive as being totally 'abstract', the fact that the wide range of sounds are all within the course of one album makes the album quite a handful to digest all at once.

The musicianship here is strong, though lopsided. Taking a look at the 'cast' for this album can go to indicate how many instruments are actually at work here. There are horns, saxophones, and harmonicas. Considering that this is a metal album, it takes some memorable songwriting to have it all fit together well, and Subterranean Masquerade do not disappoint on that front. Some of these instruments make a cameo for a moment only, and then leave, and it would have been nice to hear some of the most promising elements, such as the harmonica, a little further developed. There are Paul Kehr's vocals are arguably the most distinctive aspect of this band, a lower-register voice that carries alot of emotion and warmth to it. Where Subterranean Masquerade ironically loses some of their intensity is actually the metal portion of their sound. The metal guitar tone sounds a little weak, and it generally feels less well-executed and powerful than its mellow counterpart. Although they are labelled a 'prog metal' group, 'Suspended Animation Dream's greatest feature are the warm, often acoustically driven prog rock they make. Thankfully, that's where the band devotes most of their time, making Subterranean Masquerade's debut a winner.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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