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*Shels - Sea Of The Dying Dhow CD (album) cover



Experimental/Post Metal

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3 stars I remember founding this band through numerous recommendations here on PA forum. They are great indeed...but I wouldn't regard them as my favourite Post-Metal band.

The best thing about *SHELS is that they care not about Metal much, they're about creating atmosphere (and they even have a band member for this purpose ;) ). Mostly medium in size (3-10 minutes except for 2 intros), pieces are built in Post-Rock "quiet intro-long progression-loud climax" standard, but this is the case where cliches work FOR the band, not against them. Another positive side of this depressing stuff (ha-ha) for me is CLEAN VOCALS most of the time. Mehdi definitely SINGS, and this is far better in my book than usual Post-Metal/Sludge hardly bearable scream. Due to the fact that band stuck in 6/8 signature, many OPETH fans will find them more than enjoyable ;) Besides these 6/8 harmonies are well-played/arranged - with three guitars (!) you can hardly go wrong! Despite all these "advantages", the album failed to click on me THAT much, but it is strong and promising effort (3.5 stars really!!!). Highly recommended to all Post-Rock/Metal fans, especially those who appreciate melodies over riffs (like I do)

Report this review (#155130)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT,BRILLIANT! My favorite of 2007! This fresh-out-of-the-box band is one of the greatest post rock/metal bands to date. The music ranges from ambient spacey, to hardcore screaming, and everything in between. At first, I was thinking "what kind of band name has an astrict at the begging", but after two or three listens, I knew that this album was a gem. Dominated by acoustic guitars, the album is very mellow and atmospheric, with sparse clean vocals (that sound very much like Phil Collins'), and sometimes the songs build to some bone crushing chords and even rarer screams.

The album starts with the typical trippy lead line that defines post metal, but with a smooth drum beat and acoustic guitar to destroy any illusion of heaviness. After a couple of lines of overdubbed singing, everything drops out except the lead, and acoustic guitar... then hell erupts with the ever so powerful post metal riffing. I know, so far I sound like I'm describing just any post metal song, but there is an atmosphere that swallows the the entire albums music, no sludgyness, and squeaky clean recording is what, I think, gives *shels it's atmospherical edge. Anyways, the mood drops down to acoustics again, but there is a feeling of something coming in the song. A trumpet is introduced, giving a more Mexican/Spanish kind of feel, then the second eruption of the song, with ever climbing power chords, and the trumpet just wailing (usually I'm not a horn fan, this is an exception). After this slightly more colossal climax the song quickly gives way to the ending. The music does more than just give a atmospheric feel. Even without lyrics, the sounds actually creates landscapes, or soundscapes if you will, directing the music to an even higher affinity. Most of the tracks are around four minutes long, some just ambient atmospherical, some the climactic progpower song, and there is even a popish song, which also sounds great. Every song is well structured, well balanced, and well placed throughout the album.

It's actually, very hard to sum up this album, it flies from spectrum to spectrum, whether it be acoustic, or super heavy riffing, everything about the songs are almost perfect. I'd have to say, the first (the conference of the birds) and last (in the dead palm fields) songs are the best, but really it does not matter none of the songs are below average. After each listen you feel you heard something you've missed, and want to hear it over and over. I proudly award this album 5 stars.

Report this review (#155167)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I had the great pleasure of suggesting this band to PA, and so I think I should have a review ready for this amazing album.

I stumbled across this album mainly by accident, as it was recommended to me by a friend, and I thought I'd give it a go, and boy, am I glad I did. *shels is a band that may seem like it comes all too often, but in reality comes far too little in this music scene, or Post Metal scene.

Sea of the Dying Dhow is an album that is aimed at conjuring emotions, imagery and egnimatic sound scapes. The mystery of GY!BE is there, but the incredibly heavy metal side is also evident. Accoustic guitars play a very prominent role in the band, which adds the needed variety to keep the band aloof from it's traditional counterparts. It may be your traditional start soft; get loud Post Rock/Metal band stylings, but they really don't just mold in all that well. The atmosphere in this album is killer, but it doesn't just reside within the GY!BE eningmatic-forboding and dreary atmosphere. It has upbeat, almost happy sounding sections, angry, or even brutal sections, that accentuate the juxtaposition of the atmospheres (Yes, I know that statement is a jargon filled mouth full) incredibly well. *shels loves to stagger the lines transition, changing from dreamy accoustic wonder, to angry, relentless metal guitar riffing, and then back to delicate accoustics before you have time to acclimate yourself, leaving yourself wondering what exactly happened, and (in my case) loving it.

I won't (as I usually don't) go into individual track reviews, but I must say, if you listen to just one track, listen to The Conference of the Birds. This song is the single song that sold me on the band, and is, in my opinion one of the best songs in the Post Metal genre, from any band. Ever. Yes, it's that good.

5 Stars.

Report this review (#156774)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When power and subtleness meet

Can you imagine an album in which you can literally swim in its music? For me, this is such an album.

The interplay of electro-acoustic guitars with the devastating heavy riffs of the electric guitars is a great ear-catcher. Done very well and makes for a great listening experience. This band puts emphasize on emotion, melody and power in their music. Crushing upon you with their heaviness is not the only thing they know how to do; they also deliver smoother and softer facets, creating beautiful soundscapes of marvelous power and beauty.

The music can come tumbling upon you like a ton of bricks (The White Umbrella Part 2). The riffs are just like I love them; crunchy, heavy, raw and wide. But here is also the good thing about these guys; there's no dominance of the heavy upon the subtle. On the contrary, where softness is needed, it is given its place; in the aforementioned song, the light and delightful part follows the heavy one and they co-exist together so well. The switch is natural, flowing easily from one to the other. The vocals are mostly on the clear and malleable side, fitting very well with the two opposing facets of the music, those being the soft where they enhance it and the harsher where they contrast it. When they are on the more ferocious side, they are very well done, fit the music perfectly and add to the rawness of the sound and to the volume of the music. Another good thing here is that it is not a shiny and clean production; rather it is crispy, hard edged and somewhat raw, whether in the overall sound or specifically in the guitar riffs.

I find that I make the most of listening to this album during night time; there is fantastic soundscape weaving here and a great interplay of mellow and harsh. It is an album that is pretty accessible but that needs several listens to appreciate its beauty and intricacies, mainly due to its length. There is a very good balance between the scenic musical soundscapes and the more song-oriented songs which makes for a well equilibrated album and a varied sounding album.

This album has all the right elements, and all act synergistically to create what is an exceptional listening experience. This is not a simply metal release; it is an exercise in texture making, in layering, and in building tension through contrast while actually reaching harmony. Powerful is a word that is used often, but in this case, the word does not only describe the metal elements, but also the emotions the music elicits. Last but not least, the art of composing an appealing tune is applied here throughout the album; melody is oozing from each moment of each track. It is compelling and haunting music; such that stays with me after the album is done and which makes me want to come back and listen to it again.

What you should do: Get this album, dim the lights, put this cd in your player, sit down, close your eyes and be carried away by and with the music.

More than 4 stars...

Report this review (#162494)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The full length debut from Shels Sea of the Dying Dhow is a positive surprise to me. This is one of those post rock/ metal albums that is excellent entertainment. It´s a very memorable album.

The music is very melodic and even though it has all the trademarks of the post rock/ metal genre like repetitive slow building riffs, sporadic vocals and dynamics that shifts between crushingly monumental metal riffing and quit acoustic parts it´s not trivial and it never gets generic. This is music that provokes images in your mind. I find it very beautiful. The singing isn´t the most dominant feature on the album, but when it does appear it gives just the right lift to the songs. The vocals range from emo rock like vocals to hardcore grunts. The music is mostly instrumental though. The mood is a bit lighter than much post rock/ metal I have encountered before. It´s not happy though, but lets just say it´s a dark tunnel with a light in the end.

The musicians are very tight and Sea of the Dying Dhow oozes of class and good atmosphere among the musicians.

The production is one of the best I have heard in this kind of style and I can only praise the responsible producer for making this possible.

For fans of the genre this is a must, even though bands like Isis and Pelican have already covered most of the territory visited here. Shels have their own approach though and it´s a very enjoyable one. I´ll rate Sea of the Dying Dhow 4 stars and it comes highly recommended from me.

Report this review (#168824)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sea of the Dying Dhow brings some new identity to the metalcore genre, a rich mixture between heavy, doomy riffs and softer moments. While the riffs are slow and distorted, they are also catchy and highly melodical. Listen to "The White Umbrella-Part II", which trades off between lush acoustic sessions and heavy-metal explosions. The acoustic and softer sections on this album are gorgeous, without being influenced by classical or folk.

SOTDD does not fall into clichés of most post-metal oversaturated repetition. A piece like "Water-part I" is the key example, a modern rock ballad sounding like a powerchord-heavy anthem. The band's willingness not to fall into the pitfall of post-rock trappings - based on constant rise and fall of dynamics- is admirable. Listen to the explosion of distorted guitars in the middle of opener "The Conference of the Birds", that smoothly slides to an acoustic crescendo which builds into a reprise of the distorted section and a barrage of strings, brass, and heavy octave guitar work.

Shels has succeeded to integrate some metalcore aesthetics into a progressive rock style. They perform a progressive sound without being syrupy, without entering realms of unnecessary pretension. Shels does not embrace the arty atmosphere of a band like Isis. Every piece of music is perfectly arranged. Shels combines worlds of complete originality and typical clichés, a successful formula.

That definitely deserves a full 4-star rating, impatiently expecting their second album..

Report this review (#185194)
Posted Friday, October 10, 2008 | Review Permalink

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