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THE GIFT OF AWARENESS

P.A.W.N.

Heavy Prog


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P.A.W.N. The Gift of Awareness album cover
3.48 | 24 ratings | 17 reviews | 4% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sailors of the Sky (12:29)
2. The Princess is out tonight (5:37)
3. A Voyage of Uncertainty (12:48)
4. Vessels (8:22)
5. Fatal Wounds (13:14)
6. The Gift of Awareness (26:04)

Total Time 78:34

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Dennis Matzat / Drums, Percussion
- Sebastian Rudolph / Keyboards, Keyboard-Guitars & Basses (Ministry of Rock), Vocals, iPad

Guest musicians:
- Daniel Müller-Ramien / Vocals and E-Guitar (4)
- Lisa-Marie Rothe / Vocals
- Michael Klein / All lyrics, Vocals (3)
- Sven Rhenius / Acoustic Guitar (1,4)
- Gottfried Rudolph / Acoustic Guitar (3,6)

Releases information

Self-released, CD and digital, September 2014

All songs written, arranged, mixed, produced and mastered by Sebastian Rudolph & Dennis Matzat (2010 -2014).
Artwork realization by Lisa-Marie Rothe.
Photographs copyright by Robin Halioua (www.flickr.com/photos/robinhali).

Thanks to aapatsos for the addition
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P.A.W.N. The Gift of Awareness ratings distribution


3.48
(24 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
42%
Good, but non-essential (50%)
50%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

P.A.W.N. The Gift of Awareness reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars It is interesting to read how P.A.W.N. evolved from a gothic/death metal band to what we hear in this debut - certainly an interesting and drastic "mutation". This is essentially a duo with Matzat and Rudolph sharing the composition, arrangement and production duties. Along come a number of guest musicians and Lisa-Marie Rothe to veil the atmosphere with enchanting vocals. "The Gift of Awareness" is built on the extensive use of melodic pianos, Haken-like heavy guitars and primarily mid-tempos.

But there is a lot going on: classical influences sneak in through the opener and closing track. Gothic tendencies (Tiamat anyone?) appear on the "Princess is Out Tonight". Haggard knock on the door on the "pirate-prog" (in the words of the band), folk music-driven highlight "A Voyage of Uncertainty" where beautiful female vocals meet 70's dreamy keyboards and as the track progresses we fall into the realm of Dream Theater and Ayreon. "Vessels" shows the band's most accessible face, a prog-ballad with melody written all over it; "Fatal Wounds" is a touch heavier, but perhaps the least interesting in terms of evolvement. The ambitious closing title-track is really the summary of what P.A.W.N. have put together, balancing, among others, between heavy keyboard-driven breaks and odd-time signatures with oriental influences in the vein of Dream Theater and Haken; perhaps the heaviest song on the album but with a length that does not do it justice...

With the exception of the high-pitched sound on some cymbals, the production is solid and clean. Some repetition due to the length of some tracks may curtail the level of listening experience - the same applies to the overall length of the album, which could have been ~10 minutes (or more) shorter, and would have given more points to this solid effort. The German-accented male vocals may slightly put you off but their "gothic" tone fits the atmosphere pretty well.

With the first half being the strongest, fans of The Gathering, Haken and Ayreon will likely enjoy this debut, which balances on the verge of heavy prog and melodic progressive metal.

3.5 stars

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars P.A.W.N. - The Gift of Awareness

This album was offered for free by the band for this review.

This young German project of two very gifted musicians has managed to record a very well sounding debut album in progressive & technical metal genre, though some tracks are mainly symphonic. The recording quality is really good, especially if you take into account the fact that the band states it is a product of homerecording. My only complaint is the frequent use of electronic samples of orchestral instruments that usually end up sounding a bit cheap after a while, especially without the layers of heavy guitars that hide the artifical sound. Soundwise the band reminds me of Dream Theater and Ayreon.

Sebastian Rudolph plays all keyboards and guitars, the technically developed drums are played by Dennis Matzat and the main vocalist is Lisa-Marie Rothe. Her vocal performances really ad to the liveliness of the album, her thick sounding voice reminds me a bit of modern Kayak's Cindy Oudshoorn. PAWN likes the use elements of classical music, including big percussion sounds and orchestral sounds. The band likes to suprise us with frequent tempo-changes.

The six tracks add up to almost 80 min of material. I can't help but asking why the band didn't choose for picking only the very best of the material and make a strong 50 min album? So many modern progressive records are ruined by the weight of length and the addition of non-essential songs.

The over twelve minute long opening track 'Sailors in the Sky' is a strong and varied progressive metal track that shows the full potential the band has. 'The Princess is Out Today' is good continuation and shows the band is able to write a shorter track. 'A Voyage of Uncertainty' a thirteen minute track of the beforementioned orchestral imitations that really breaks up the rockin' atmosphere, but perhaps I just fail to appriciate the folksy piratesque feel of the song. 'Vessels' has a strong symphonic metal ending but otherwise lacks the power to impress, which also counts for 'Fatal Wounds' - a track that just doesn't find a melody that gives the song a core or base. The 26 minute long titletrack is a way more adventerious and inventive composition, just like the opening track. The band sounds way more enthusiastic and all ideas just work out.

Conclusion. Now, I'm not a frequent listener to modern prog, and it is hard for me to rate an album like this. I liked the fresh opening song and the adventerious ending track and without the rest this would have been much better in my humble opinion - and you'd still have a 40 minute album. As it is now I'll give it three stars, but I think many progressive metal listeners will find a very interesting and sophisticated album.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars P.A.W.N. stands for ''The Projection of Ancient Wisdom and Naration'' and this is a Hamburg-based band, formed sometime in 2002 out of the ashes of the Gothic/Dark Metal act Querimonia.The band had a cult following around the area after playing numerous lives in local clubs, but things didn't turn out very well along the way.At some point they were reduced to the trio of Sebastian Rudolph, Dennis Matzat and Daniel Mueller-Ramien and moreover Mueller-Ramien was diagnosed with a tumor in 2009.Apparently he focused on his treatment and the remaining duo decided to keep the flame alive, working as a tight team to finish the recordings of the debut album ''The Gift of awareness'' with the help of Lisa-Marie Rothe on female vocals and some guest musicians on acoustic guitar.Sadly by the time of the album's release in 2014 Daniel had passed away and Rudolph and Matzat dedicated this album to him, his vocals and E-guitar can be heard in the fourth track ''Vessels''.

Musically this comes as a pleasant surprise, not only because ''The Gift of awareness'' sounds as a complete effort, created by a regular band, but because Rudolph and Matzat measured their forces by producing very long and multi-themed tracks with an atmospheric variation, mostly based on Heavy Prog stylings, but always showered by some Goth-like leftovers from their previous group and lots of symphonic and orchestral elements.In total there are six pieces in here with four of them clocking at over 10 minutes, Rudolph was forced to complete the album using keyboard guitars and basses next to his regular stint as a keyboardist.But the guys did a great job, avoiding any tiring fillers and coming up with a bunch of great pieces, where AYREON/STREAM OF PASSION meet DREAM THEATER meet PORCUPINE TREE.Powerful electric guitars, bombastic orchestral moves, Classical-drenched strings and piano and even some retro-styled Prog keyboard samplers deliver an impressive amalgam of progressive arrangements, cinematic moods, dynamic rhythms and symphonic overtones.I am not quite fond of some of the male vocals, which I find pretty irritating, but the female ones are simply great, crystalline and passionate at the same time.The atmosphere is usually pompous with plenty of grandiose instrumental parts and sinister climates and all tracks are efficient to the point to become trully fascinating at times.But the farewell 26-min. title track is the absolute pinnacle of the album, a balanced mix of flashy keyboard parts with Electronic touches, injections of old-styled Sympho/Orchestral Rock ala RENAISSANCE and frenetic Prog Metal, highlighted by an excellent drummer and the impressive keyboard work of Rudolph.Very solid stuff with a display of composing talent, technique and atmospheric depth in equal doses, featuring an incredible number of twists and turns.Beautiful material.

Thumbs up for this German act, which managed to complete a great album under very emotional circumstances.Strongly recommended to all Heavy Prog and Prog Metal enthusiasts, who don't mind some touches of Rock Opera, Symphonic Rock and Gothic Metal in the menu...3.5 stars.

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Standing in a laundryroom isn't, for the most part, exciting. It is merely the walk of life and at least I can listen to prog in the meantime. But then I suddenly received a message from one of the members of P.A.W.N. asking, very politely, if I would consider reviewing their album. I felt both intrigued and thankful for such an opportunity, so I accepted and received a download link within minutes. Standing in the laundryroom I looked into the Bandcamp website to take an aural peek on what to expect. The first track, 'Sailors of the sky', really got my attention. I remember nodding my head in recognition. And the head keeps nodding.

To describe the music on "The gift of awareness" is both easy and tricky. The foundation is heavy metal, I would say, the structure progressive rock and the ceiling a mixture of symphonic and classical elements. There is a tiny hint of electronics in there aswell, which I enjoy. Neither of the parts take over. Rather they seem to colloborate and create something very varied and highly enjoyable. I would maybe compare P.A.W.N. to certain elements of Dream Theater, Ayreon and the heavier side of metal. Opeth isn't an all that far fetched likeness, except there is no growling on here. Still, they have their own style and vision. I would say that it is a heavy metallian symphonic brand of music. The vocals are very pleasant, especially the female ones. It never crosses into operatic nonsens but retains a beautiful tone that carries the music in a splendid way.

The album opens very peacefully with gentle piano. That's it. It moves from there into a very heavy section of metal. My least favorite song is 'The princess is out tonight' and while it is a good track it does not speak to me in the same way that the rest of the album does.

If there is a genre such as pirate prog then 'A voyage of uncertainty' certainly belongs in that fold. Very dramatic and powerful. It's like Running Wild was to make a prog rock album. I like that one very much. 'Vessels' opens in a powerful way but is also very varied and several moods and shifts in tempo and sound. 'Fatal wounds' is a crushing piece which is very nice.

The main reasons for me getting into prog in the first place is the cover art, the titles of the songs and the length of them. In the case of P.A.W.N. this is certainly appliable in the latter two. The length and titles speaks to me, coming also from a metal and hard rock background. In the case of the title track this becomes evident as it stretches out into a 26 minutes long epic of fantastic proportions. This is really the reason for getting oneself into this album. While the other tracks are great, this is something completely different. It is a multistructured song with several sections and keeps my interest all the way through. There are great keyboards aswell as heavy guitar, which keeps light and darkness in balance.

There is obviously alot of talent going round today and P.A.W.N. is certainly gifted and very talented. If this is their debut album i foresee an even grander one the next time. This is certainly music for people with an interest in both prog and heavy metal. P.A.W.N. manages to fly the flag of both genres.

Four stars.

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A young and intresting band from Germany little know so far named .P.A.W.N formed around 2002 from ashes of a ghotic metal band Querimonia. The band manageing to release their debut this year 2014 named The gift of awarness. Well, I like what I've heared here, really, specially the instrumental section are quite great, well done and the sound is crystal clear. After tragical death of guitarist Daniel Müller-Ramien in 2104 , the band remaing as a duo with a help from female vocalist Lisa-Marie Rothe here and there. The album is lenghty, the pieces are lomg, elaborated, I like very much the guitar sound , has that prog metal feel to it, but in the end P.A.W.N is not an entirely prog metal band. There are some crossover prog elements thrown in, some eclectic moments aswell, all in all good stuff. Is like is combining Dream Theater with Ayreon with Pain of Salvation, etc. I must confess I like more this album then anything Pain of Salvation released after Be album ten years ago. The gift of awareness worth only for the title track, is 26 min a tour de force for the band where are incorporated all the great elements this band has in this moment. The guitar sound and manner of playing is truly inspired, the drums aswell, all is great and well made. Another worthy track is the opening Sailors of the Sky, the best apart of Lisa Marie Rothe, nice vocal passages. If the lowest thing here on this release are the vocal arrangements, are far from great , but not really bad, only uninspired and usualy made. The instrumental passages are awesome and great. All in all a nice album and for that reason 3 stares, a good one, maybe rounded to 3.5 here and there.

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars This Germany duo have produced this big progressive metal album of 80 minutes with 3 songs of 12 minutes and a epic of 26 minutes. The music balance many orchestral arrangements with the progressive metal arpeggios of a band like Ayeron. The tempo of the songs evolved slowly with burst of heavier guitars that alternate with lighter piano and acoustic guitars passages that gives to the music a atmospheric feel. The musicians are not showing their craft to some excess with the exception of some Ayeron's guitar parts that i didn't enjoy as much as the classical and quieter passages of the album. But the final epic song "The Gift of Awarness" was a different story for me. The band managed to make some more unique guitars, keyboards melodies and some challenging rhythm changes that could evoke the originality of a band like Haken, for example the nice piano break. This final song show that the band has some potential for the future. I will check them closely. 3.5 stars
Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Recently, the same as other reviewers in Prog Archives were and maybe still are, I was asked (in my case, by Dennis Matzat, the drummer of this band) to listen to this album. I agreed to listen to this album and to write a review about it.

As the information that was sent to me about the band says, the band considers their music as part of the Progressive Metal-Rock musical style. I have to say that I don`t listen to this musical style very often. In fact, I have listened to bands of this musical style (like DREAM THEATER, for example) a very few times. So, maybe I was not the right choice as a reviewer to be asked to listen and to write a review about this album. Anyway, I decided to listen to this album and to write a review about it.

The history of this German band from Hamburg says that it was formed in 2002. Initially, they were a quintet, but with the passing of time the band became a trio, and unfortunately their guitarist (to whom this album is dedicated, and who also appears on one track singing lead vocals and playing guitar) became ill some years ago and finally died early in this year. But despite all these problems, they finally released their first album this year, now as a duo (which consists of drummer-percussionist Dennis Matzat and keyboard player-guitarist- bassist-singer Sebastian Rudolph), with the assistance from some friends (a female singer, Lisa-Marie Rothe, who also contributed to the cover design), some guitarists who played some acoustic guitars in some tracks, and with the contributions of a former member (Michael Klein, who wrote all the lyrics and also sang lead vocals on one track). The album was recorded between 2010 and 2014.

The album has several musical moods, but I have to say that a as whole it obviously tends more to the Progressive Metal-Rock musical style. It has some very elaborated musical parts, and the very often use of distorted heavy guitars, which is a very characteristic thing in this musical style, of course. But the main instruments are the drums and the keyboards. The drum parts, which sound to me more like being played in an electronic drum kit, as one of the photos of the booklet shows, also have some complicated patterns, very Progressive in style. The keyboard parts are very good too, with good symphonic arrangements, sometimes using more the sound of violins or strings, sometimes using some mellotron samples, and also some very good piano parts. The violin sounds remembered me a bit of KANSAS in some way. Also there are some good keyboard solos, with some of them sounding like being played using an analog synthesizer, but maybe I am wrong.

The lead vocals are mostly a combination of female and male vocals, which sound very well to me. I don`t know if the album as a whole has a concept represented in the lyrics. But I read them in the booklet, and I think that maybe the concept of this album, as long as I could understand it in the meaning of the lyrics as a whole, is about the problems in human interactions, with the usual problems in communication which go from selfishness and power conflicts to an awareness that human interactions could be better if there is less selfishness and more interest in the well being and in the good interactions with the other persons. Maybe I am wrong, but that was the message that I could understand while I was reading the lyrics. Maybe this concept is more clear in the main song in this album, the long title song.

The recording and mixing is very good, very professional, despite the band considers it in the booklet notes to be more like a 'home recording' in style.

As a whole, I think that this album is very good. It really shows why it took to them four years to record it. It seems to me that the band finally released it until they were very happy about it.

I liked very much the cover and booklet design and photos. (Photos by Robin Halioua).

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This the debut album of the this German band who originally formed in 2002. They've had a few line-up changes over the years but now consist of the duo of Dennis Matzat (drums, percussion) and Sebastian Rudolph (keyboards, guitars, vocals, iPad). On this album they have a few guest musicians including a female vocalist and a former, recently deceased member appears on one song. The duo play nearly everything and the sound and production is well done. The vocals are in English while the music itself could be described as a mix of prog metal, symphonic metal and symphonic prog.

"Sailors Of The Sky" opens the album with some beautiful yet melancholy piano. Later gets more symphonic rock sounding and then more standard prog metal. Female vocals arrive which are never needlessly over the top - they add rather than take away from the music. There is what sounds like violin throughout the album although not being listed in the credits I'm not sure if it is the real deal or imitated on a synth. The track goes into a more traditional prog metal vibe later on before the vocal part returns. Goes into a prog metal version of the opening part. "The Princess Is Out Tonight" is a great catchy piece. Opens more traditional symphonic prog metal before mellowing out a bit with some male vocals. Catchy chorus with alternating male and female vocals. Some very metal drumming towards the end. Great track.

"A Voyage Of Uncertainty" begins very moody and cinematic sounding before some piano lays the foundation. The main song itself is basically some sort of sea shanty (going along with the song's theme of a shipwreck). Alternates between the male sung sea shanty and a female sung symphonic part. Halfway through gets more symphonic prog metal sounding. The playing gets rather intricate at times here. Sounds like some sitar at one point. "Vessels" is the only track to feature recently deceased member Daniel Müller-Ramien on guitar and backup vocals. Overall it is a fairly straight-forward easy going song compared to the rest of the album.

"Fatal Wounds" starts off interesting with some counterpoint violin playing. I like some of the synth sounds in this track. Both male and female vocals here. Nice buildup in the middle. The chorus part gets more mellow later on. Very symphonic metal sounding at the end. At the end of the album we get the 26 minute title track. A highlight of the album for sure. Nice melodies on keyboards and violin(?) to begin. I like the playful rhythm they get into after 2 minutes. The first vocal part with male and female vocals is fairly straight-forward prog metal stuff. Some mellotron like sounds at one point.

Nice synth sounds after the second vocal part followed by some synth soloing. The epic changes to different sections frequently. Love the synth(?) bass sound after 10 minutes. There is one vocal section which is reprised. More instrumental goodness in the middle including some vaguely Middle-Eastern sounding melodies. A very 'chiptune' sounding synth at one point. Hell, we even get some Baroque! Just female vocals and counterpoint violin playing at one point. The epic just sort of fades away rather than end with a big bang. For fans of symphonic rock and prog metal who like female vocals. Enough diversity and variation in the music to not be *just* 'prog metal'. Generally very consistent and well played and the sound and production is top-notch. I will give this a 3.5 but round it up to 4 stars.

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I was asked to review this debut album from Germany, and as usual I was glad to receive the CD in mail. The package is really good looking! Other reviews have already given a lot of information, so I'll concentrate on my personal reception to the music. In a word, it is ambivalent. On one hand I highly appreciate it, and on the other hand there's something extremely annoying. I'm not fond of Heavy Prog or Prog Metal, and for that reason also P.A.W.N. has extra challenge to impress me in the first place. But, perhaps to my own surprise, the Heavy / Metal elements are not the main problem here. This music is very melodic and powerful in a good way. Both the production and the arrangements are very fine and ambitious, full of progressive hooks and artistic details in an eclectic variety. Almost all compositions are rather long.

I tell you what disturbs me: the male vocals. No, they're not aggressive growls. They could be described as pretty harmless from that point of view - if only they didn't have that robotic coldness in their extremely pushed delivery. I do like Lisa-Marie Rothe's vocals, and thank God she's the main vocalist. Also the moments where Lisa-Marie is backed up by male vocals are decent enough. But sometimes a little detail can really piss you off. For the first time it comes in the second track, in the sections where the male vocals repeat "the - prin - cess - is - out - to - night" sounding like programmed machines, emotionless humanoids. 'A Voyage of Uncertainty' is (to me) seriously ruined by the parts with the numerous lines starting with words "Do you dare..." sung robotically amidst very phoney hand clapping rhythm pattern, which may or may not attempt to resemble a Medieval / Renaissance dance. (An example of slightly similar but much more successful Old Music dance rhythm can be heard on 'Tears and Pavane' by STRAWBS.) In my opinion this "Do you dare..." mess sounds just ridiculous and clumsy, primarily due to the robotic vocals.

The rest of the album with a respectable total length of 78:37 flows better, and it is beautifully finished with a gorgeous 26-minute title epic. It seems I'm not the first one to say the male vocals are the weak link in this music, but surely no one is as disturbed by them as me, and there are also reviewers who don't seem to take it as a problem at all. So I want to end my review on a positive note: this is definitely worth checking out if you like Symphonic and Gothic prog with a Metal flavour. Comparisons include bands such as DREAM THEATER, HAKEN, AYREON and PAIN OF SALVATION. I'm not at my the strongest in this field and have no other names to add, but to my knowledge none of those bands feature a great female voice as P.A.W.N. does. (A pity it wasn't enough for themselves.)

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars German band P.A.W.N. reached out to a few PA members with the intention of creating some discussion, momentum and perhaps recognition, a smart move that generally helps the artist to get a toe-hold in the underground trans-global progressive rock scene. It's what I would do if I had a band and wanted to 'market' my craft, so a nice round of applause to drummer Dennis Matzat for reaching out so humbly to me. I had noticed the burgeoning reviews, mostly frankly positive and the mailman finally delivered the prized package and the listening process has begun before slowly putting words of critique into place. Others have spoken about their historical background, I suggest to read their bio for more in-depth information. The duo of Matzat and Sebastian Rudolph (guitars, bass and keys) are supported by a crew of guests, no one more formidable than lead vocalist Lisa-Marie Rothe, who shines exuberantly when called upon.

First observation, a fine cover adorns the album, somewhere close to Panic Room's "Skin", silver/steel blue forest scene where something odd and foreboding seems to lurk in the mist. In many ways, the music inside reflects the shimmering shroud that icily depicts the artwork. Secondly, the sound is pristine, flawless, clear and detailed, as expected from the German tradition of sonic precision.

To start off with a 12 minute+ epic shows a great amount of confidence and the sheer bombastic nature becomes immediately apparent, setting the benchmark that will be constantly targeted all the way through the disc. Thus "Sailors in the Sky" does not disappoint, a solid composition where churning whirlwind of roaring guitars, symphonic walls of synthesized splendor, intimate piano (delicious throughout) and shattering drums coexist with only one purpose in mind.

The mellotron kicks off "The Princess is out Tonight", a sublimely melodic piece that also features a gorgeous duet between the fluid Rothe and the robotic Rudolph, in a rather more romantic /heavy symphonic environment with colossal drum support from Matzat, a man who can bash with the best of them. A typical example of modern prog taking the genre into the future by relying on solid historical foundations.

Another 12 minute epic follows, but "A Voyage of Uncertainty" decides to go in a different direction altogether, forging a more story-telling style that is quite appealing. Swerving from gentle piano lullabies to more heartfelt grit, the instrumental playing is always searching for different tones and styles, combining them astutely as lyricist/guest vocalist Michael Klein does his cameo appearance with conviction. Rothe involves herself again, keeping the balance and adding to the joy.

The dreamy and grandiose "Vessels" is undoubtedly the trailer highlight if you will, an 8 minute thriller that espouses more accessible orientation without a glimmer of accusatory wimpiness or sell-out, just a glittering piece of bombastic prog in the Ayreon/Haken mode. The guitars espouse Wagnerian bluster, the delicate keys perhaps more Chopin-like romance, while Rothe sings her painful lament. The über melody is instantaneous and exceedingly appealing.

The first and only weak track is "Fatal Wounds", where a choppier style announces a hard shift in momentum, mainly due to the slithering violin but the arrangement suddenly dives into a darker metal sinew that proves Rudolph not being a very convincing singer as he verges on growling, a fact mentioned by other reviewers, though more for his cold, mechanical style. The drums are exuberant and there is purposefully no melody to be found anywhere. There is little subtlety here, even when Rothe makes ephemeral appearances to soothe the dense maelstrom but so be it! The end part is cataclysmic, I will be skipping this one....

The massive title track is, as expected in prog circles, a clear indication of the band's symphonic vision, as the piece clocks in over 26 minutes and is constructed accordingly. Sweet orchestral delicacy opens the door, letting in glorious mellotron waves, adroit drumming and accentuating guitar patterns, a thoroughly convincing escapade. The busy Matzat in particular does a complex rhythmic exploration on his drum kit, a stunning detail that does not go unnoticed. Rothe once again applies her soothing voice to great effect, the crescendo becoming even more overpowering as the bombast expands into definite waves of contrast, an ebb and flow between hope and despair. Rudolph finally delivers a series of loopy synth solos that effervesces nicely, something that may be used more often in the previous pieces. This is easily the highlight track on this debut, the quiet parts are expertly enhanced with the wider ones, tossing in a wide variety of detailed creativity, back and forth, like the ocean tides.

There is little doubt that both Rudolph and Matzat are onto something here, perhaps considering Rothe to join full-time, so that the next album will be a bona fide killer, more concise, dramatic and even more adventurous. Throw in at least some guitar and synth soloing, please. All thing considered, a definite grower!

4 cognizance presents

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars P.A.W.N. are a band out of Hamburg, Germany and they pretty much did it all on this album including the mixing, mastering and production. I can appreciate the difficulty of knowing what sub-genre to put them in as they come across to my ears as a Prog-Metal(drums and heaviness) and Symphonic(vocals and orchestration) hybrid. The positives for me are the art work, lyrics and the title of the album all of which are connected. Nothing like seeing the beauty of God in his creation. The negatives for me are mainly the vocals. Now the lady can sing, i'm just not that into them while the male vocals are just not good at all in my opinion. I would also mention that I have a hard time separating out the guitar and bass most of the time on this record while the drums are very upfront but i'm not complaining about the drums because the guy is very, very good. Lastly at over 78 minutes it would have been a double album back in the day and it's tough making a consistently good album over that length of time.

"Sailors Of The Sky" is my favourite song on here. It opens with piano before eventually kicking in hard after 1 1/2 minutes. Heavy stuff and I like it. Female vocals a minute later as it settles back some. The strings are a nice touch and this album has plenty of them. I like the instrumental section 5 1/2 minutes in then it turns heavy again around the 7 minute mark as the mood and tempo continue to shift. I like the guitar late. "The Princess Is Out Tonight" opens with strings and atmosphere before it kicks into gear. Male vocals after a minute but female vocals arrive as well. The drums dominate late to end it. "A Voyage Of Uncertainty" opens with church bells before strings and piano arrive then male vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. I'm not really into this one and we do get female vocals and what sounds like harpsichord. "Vessels" opens heavily but then is replaced with a calm as female vocals, piano and strings join in. Drums follow then we get an instrumental section with lots of strings before the vocals return. An okay tune although I really like the last 2 minutes.

"Fatal Wounds" sounds great with that heavy 2 minute intro although it stays fairly heavy for much of this track. The male vocals after 2 minutes are not good at all but we get female vocals as well. I like the heaviness on this one a lot, the male vocals, not so much. "The Gift Of Awareness" is the closing 26 minute ride. Piano and strings to start then it kicks in hard after 1 1/2 minutes reminding me of how the opening song began. A calm with female vocals, piano and strings as contrasts will continue between the heaviness and more laid back passages. Some cool sections here like the one after 10 1/2 minutes with light drums(for a change) female vocals and strings. Keys and atmosphere follow. The male vocals that follow aren't so cool but check out the swirling synths. A nice keyboard section 16 1/2 minutes in then a fairly uplifting section after 18 1/2 minutes but then the male vocals return.

A mixed bag for me for sure and there's just not enough enjoyment for me to offer up the fourth star. A talented band that I hope will bring us more music in the future. Thanks Dennis!

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars P. A. W. N. are a heavy Prog band hailing from Germany. Their album "The gift of awareness" opens with a wonderful track called 'Sailors of the sky'. A lonely piano tinkles softly a pretty melody then is joined by synthesiser pads and a harp sound. The mood lifts with guitar that quickly changes pace with the tempo quickening as flighty keys and a bright sounding melody resounds. The extended intro has some incredible drums then it locks into the main melody with Lisa-Marie singing about preternatural events, and her voice takes on an ethereal quality. The chorus has a different feel as we hear "we are the sailors of the sky, we sail up on clouds, we're more flesh than men". This brings us to wonder are they vampires? In any case it is a Gothic atmosphere as keyboards flow in a haunting organic piece of music with exceptional playing. The choral intonations again instigate the Gothic atmosphere and Lisa tells us in the next verse "lightning never strikes twice". Then it changes with heavy crunches of chopped fractured guitar. The urgency of the music is jarring after the pastoral tranquillity previous, then lead guitar emanates with face melting fingering and keys carved up on a plate of razor edge drums. On the next verse we head into wintry clouds and into the eye of the storm with sullen keyboards and a downbeat icy coda. This is masterful songwriting by any standard and simply entrancing.

A bright metal intro opens the dynamic "The Princess is out tonight". It settles into a steady tempo with phased male vocals balanced over with Lisa-Marie's vox. She takes over on the next verse with her melodic tones and the Chorus is very catchy and hooks into my subconscious immediately. The song quickly moves into a new time change that stays locked into the melody somehow. This track sounds more like one you may hear on the radio due to its shorter length and melodies. It is thoroughly enjoyable and has some wonderful drumming towards the end with blast beat triplets and high-speed double kicks. It is just so great to hear real drums that add so much to the overall sound.

"A voyage of uncertainty" opens with peaceful tranquil piano solitude and the tolling of the bell. There is a peaceful piano and a haunting melody resounds. The sig switches with distorted chugging guitars and a strong drumbeat again adding to the change in mood. It breaks suddenly into the piano motive then the time sig changes again into halftime feel. The tempo becomes sporadic as a marching drumbeat ensues. Then we move into a new section as if marching to the gallows as the bell tolls ominously. The atmosphere is scary as Lisa asks "do you dare to keep silent, do you dare to snare a wolf, do you dare to go down with this ship?" This is an intriguing Gothic track worthy of hearing.

"Vessels" bursts with exuberant keys and heavy guitars over a steady beat. It breaks into soulful ambient keyboards as heard with Lisa-Marie singing with vibrato. The soundscape darkens as we hear "abandon your soul and feed my vessel" that hints at Vampiric undertones. "Hours of the day and hours of the night, they'll be our servants and they'll be our slaves, our unification to the end of all days"; lyrical poetry that may be a love song for vampires. This is mesmerising music and very majestic with embellishments of vocal choir.

"Fatal Wounds" begins with a crash of distorted guitar and a chunky riff joined by melodic keys in harmony. This is synchronised with blast beats of drums. The lyrics speak of "a scar that will never heal". A time sig change heralds some machine like metal crunches then overflows with pastoral keyboard melodies. The keyboard showcase has layers of notes and breaks out into faster cadence. It slows again and Lisa sings about "fire and desire". Then some blazing lead guitars are heard till we return to the chorus "fatal wounds that sting us, this coldness that chokes me to see that we, we must be, now I lay myself beside your tomb taking fatal wounds". The death dirge is in enhanced by violins and ghostly synths. The distorted metal chugs and double-click drums take the song to its conclusion. The Coda is again well executed and majestic, with drums and cymbals that crash and burn with energy right to the end. An absolutely wonderful epic of accomplished musicianship from the band.

The album ends with a Prog epic that opens with quiet ambience as a patient piano is joined by Angel choirs, like sunrays bursting through the trees in a dark forest. It gets heavier and the tempo quickens with fast metal guitar precision and blinding keyboard fingering. Lisa sings "what was once giveth shall be given away, knowledge is lost in decay, since the dawn of light enlightened fire burns, awareness is the gift which brought us to life, let us have compassion of an evil willed mind, the young of heart or the burden of old had their share of life, we are passing the gift being blessed by a curse." So again there are vampiric nuances with themes of a wintry Twilight forest by the light of the moon with howling wolves. The Gothic grandeur is embellished with sorrowful piano governed over by meandering retro synth. There is a showcase of fluttering keyboard prowess as a completely different feel ensues with an awesome bass line. Lisa sings "from birth to life it's on our side, from cradle to bed let us shine bright, we carry the burden and pass on our gift". So with these words immediately I think vampires that are passing on a gift of the undead; immortality with a bite "from maturity to the grave". A very fast keyboard phrase follows with unusual time signature and more powerhouse playing. This section is akin to Dream Theater or Haken. The mood switches to tranquillity with a cool bass line and Oriental keypads. The sigs go wildly out of control at 14 minutes as the drums go into overdrive with blast beats and sporadic triplets. The dramatic keys are accompanied by grinding hard-core distorted chunks of guitar. The song builds to a sweeping Cinemascape ascending into a finale. The final showdown of guitars and synths battle it out before the epic pulls down the curtain of the album; a colossal multi movement suite of tension and power.

Overall all this album is a compelling twilight journey of wintry Gothic landscapes, vampires and howling wolves locked in a heavy Prog environment. I recommend this to those into Gothic metal with female vocals such as Nightwish, Ever After, Within Temptation and those bands who indulge in extended soloing such as Yes, Transatlantic or Dream Theater. It has elements of all these artists and yet burns with it's own passion and energy with German accents and keyboard finesse workouts being at the centre. The inspired musicianship and operatic vocals make this a powerhouse album for complex prog lovers and for those into the vampire genre. It is an album to sink the teeth into as P. A. W. N. bares it's fangs and unveils some of the best dark romantic cinematic prog of 2014.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A few months ago I was asked to write a review about this new band from Germany. I didn´t know anything about their former members neither of their previous gothic/death metal background. when I first heard the first track, Sailors In The Sky, they reminded me of british combo Touchstone: good melodic hard rock with a female singer. But upon listening a little more it was obvious that they had a much stronger prog leaning and certain german folk "accent" or "flavor", if you will, within their music. Those elements together gave them a quite unique personality. Good start!

I was surprised when I read the credits that they were not really a band, but a duo: Dennis Matzat (drums) and Sebastian Rudolph (Keyboards, vocals) plus some guests. Their best asset is singer Lisa-Marie Rothe, a terrific vocalist with a great voice and stunning delivering. There are a few male vocals but they are totally eclipsed by Rothe´s. The songs in general are long, with shifting moods and tempo, but aside from the occasional mellotron, they are not all that symphonic as it may sound. Some parts do have a few hard edged guitars that throw them close to the prog metal category, but they are good enough songwriters and arrangers to avoid most cliches with ease. The production is also brilliant.

Overall I found this CD to be quite enjoyable and very well performed. All the songs are nice and some parts are even brilliant. However, they have not achieved a real "band" sound, i.e., the CD sounds a bit disjoined on parts, lacking a cohesive whole. But those are minor flaws since it is just their first effort and I´m sure that if they follow this pattern they will mature their obvious talent as composers and maybe give us a more cohesive work in near future.

Conclusion: an interesting mix of power, gothic and symphonic rock with terrific female singer. A very promising act that I´m looking forward to hear their next release.

Rating: somewhere 3.5 and 4 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Gift of Awareness" is the debut full-length studio album by German progressive rock/metal act P.A.W.N.. The album was released independently in September 2014 in both digital format and on CD. P.A.W.N. was formed in 2002 by former members of the goth/death metal act Querimonia, who released the "Void of Malice" album in 1998. The band played local gigs for a number of years, but lineup changes and the death of guitarist Daniel Müller-Ramien, were serious bumps on the road, and it wasn´t until 2009, that P.A.W.N. started working on "The Gift of Awareness". First as a trio and after the death of Daniel Müller-Ramien, as the duo of Dennis Matzat (Drums, Percussion) and Sebastian Rudolph (Keyboards, Keyboard-Guitars & Basses (Ministry of Rock), Vocals, iPad). The album features some guest/session musicians too. Most prominently female vocalist Lisa-Marie Rothe.

While the music on "The Gift of Awareness" can predominantly be described as progressive rock, the guys in the band haven´t completely forgotten their metal past, and there are several heavy sections on the album, which border and even cross into progressive metal territories. Each of the 6 tracks on the 78:34 minutes long album features multilayered instrumental work, a relatively high compositional complexity, but also a focus on atmosphere. While the female vocals are the most dominant vocal type on "The Gift of Awareness", there are male vocals on the album too.

The musicianship is generally on a very high level. I´m especially impressed by the drumming on the album, which is both skillfully performed but also quite powerful and intriguing. Other than the drums which are quite dominant in the mix, the instrumentation mostly consists of loads of keyboards, and bass and guitars.

Except for "The Princess is out tonight" which is "only" 5:37 minutes long, all tracks on the album are very long, with four tracks exceeding 10 minutes in length. The closing title track is even a 26:04 minutes long giant of a progressive rock/metal track, so there are quite a bit of quantity for the money. Fortunately the quality follows suit. In addition to clever songwriting, and skillful performances by all involved, "The Gift of Awareness" also features a clear, detailed, and well sounding production. It lacks an organic touch, if you crave such a sound, but otherwise it´s a quality sound production. Especially considering that it´s predominantly a home recording done by two men.

Upon conclusion "The Gift of Awareness" is a relatively strong debut album by P.A.W.N.. It´s obvious that these guys have put a lot of hours into the project, writing, recording, and producing the album, and it has payed off. It´s not the most original sounding progressive rock release out there, and there are moments on the album which are slightly sub par to the best material (for example I´m not sure the male vocals on "The Princess is out tonight" sound that great to my ears), but overall a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars German band P.A.W.N. (short for the Projection of Ancient Wisdom and Narration) was formed sometime around 2002, initially an active live unit, but one that over time has been converted to a studio project revolving around the talents of a core duo consisting of drummer Matzat and keyboardist Rudolph. "The Gift of Awareness" is their debut album, self-released in 2014.

Epic-length progressive metal in a melodramatic coating is a possible description for the music explored on P.A.W.N.'s debut album "The Gift of Awareness". A production with melodramatic, epic compositions alternating between atmospheric- laden layered keyboards- driven sequences and harder-edged guitar driven majestic passages, with a quality female lead singer providing suitably dramatic impact lead vocals as what, I suspect, will be the icing on the cake for those with a soft spot for progressive metal of this variety. An album that merits a check by those who find this conclusion to be tantalizing.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars "A Voyage of Uncertainity". This song title shows quite well my feelings about this album. First of all I have to apologize to the band who invited me to review it, I have taken more than two years before listening to it. My fault.

Now that I've listened to it few times I'm still thinking about it. There are some really good parts and other which fail to raise my interest. As the band says, their music has connections to Ayreon and Corvus Stone, but I've found myself thinking that with a stronger German accent they could be compared to Eloy.

The album is well played and produced, and the voice of Lisa-Marie Rothe is very nice. The only problem is the discontinuity in the longer tracks. More than epics, they sound more like shorter tracks tied togethe: more a Tubular Bells than a Lady Fantasy, I mean.

Said so, the album is good enough. It shows that the band has a good potential and I'm now worried in seeing that this is still the only official release of P.A.W.N. It's true that I enjoy this album more as background while I'm doing something else as I fail to concentrate really on it, but with the potential and the musicianship shown I think that hey would deserve another shot. Some parts of the 26 minutes title track are very good and are able to reclaim my attention.

Neo-Prog ears would probably enjoy it more than me, but this is my fault, not the band's. I sincerely hope to listen to new P.A.W.N. outputs. Not a bad debut, but clearly a debut.

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Report this review (#1292210) | Posted by odinalcatraz | Wednesday, October 15, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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