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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States

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Across the Sun biography
US act ACROSS THE SUN was formed back in 2004, and after a few years spent finding their way the band solidified in 2007 with a line-up consisting of Brandon Davis (vocals), Alan Ashcraft (drums), Shane Murray (keyboards), Colin St. Claire (bass) and Sam Hafer (guitar).

The band has been actively performing live since the onset, and takes pride in being described as the hardest working band in the Northwest. They made their recording debut with the EP This War in 2006, with the EPs Storms Weathered and Pestilence & Rapture following in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Their musical style comes across as a blend of classic progressive metal and a thrash-inspired aggressive version of it featuring growling, grunts and other effects of a more extreme nature.

In 2010 Across the Sun was signed to Metal Blade Records, and their full length debut album is planned released towards the end of 2010.

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ACROSS THE SUN discography

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3.95 | 2 ratings
Before The Night Takes Us

ACROSS THE SUN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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ACROSS THE SUN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
This War
0.00 | 0 ratings
Storms Weathered
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pestilence & Rapture


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 Before The Night Takes Us by ACROSS THE SUN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.95 | 2 ratings

Before The Night Takes Us
Across the Sun Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Just as a clarification, this rating has nothing to do with prog, there's hardly any prog elements here at all, this is just good straight-up metalcore with symphonic elements and orchestral overdubs, and this review is essentially to explain why that's the BEST kind of metal.

See, many of my friends see me as a metalhead, judging by the roughly 250+ metal bands on my computer right now, although I really don't see myself as a true metalhead. Thrash metal doesn't really interest me. Sure, Metallica and a bit of Megadeth is ok, but after that it all sounds the same. And frankly, that tends to be the biggest sticking point with metal. "It all sounds the same." And that's partially because it does.

Now I understand some demographics like the same stuff. For the longest time I was like that with jam bands. If you rocked out and improvised, I'll listen to you. Then I found I tended to listen more to Phish, Umphrey's McGee, Disco Biscuits, String Cheese Incident, even some Dave Matthews. Sometimes a band came around with just a straight up catchy tune that clicks for whatever reason, and you can't stop listening to it. Maybe you don't like their other songs, but perhaps that one song is a hit. But everyone has a certain band they comb through their entire catalog of music, not necessarily because they're all catchy, but because they all exhibit a trademark or signature sound that just sounds miles beyond any other.

Of course, that's probably just me being Captain Obvious, but that same philosophy has rang true for metal bands to me, and when I comb through the bands I listen to the most, roughly 80% have key or synth players, or they're saturated with synth and orchestral textures. Is that because I like classical music? Maybe. Does that mean if your bland, boring metal band adds some symphonic strings that it's going to make your lame, basic breakdown so much epic-er? It's worth a shot.

It sounds simple, but it also sounds too good to be true, but it works, and this album is a brilliant example of it. There's a strong resemblance to Killswitch Engage on this album, which is partially why I latched onto them with their 2009 release "Pestilence & Rapture". Right from the get-go on "Tipping The Scales", the buildup is immediate, the tension mounts right away with an atmosphere of chorus and strings. Right away keyboard player Shane Murray makes his presence known and establishes the kind of sound that will be the norm, a hard hitting metalcore album that soars with symphonic overdubs that occasionally takes a break to allow yourself to catch a breath and brace yourself for the next onslaught of metal to come charging over the hill.

Music like this I like to imagine would be great accompaniment to your typical epic anime battle. You know, the kind of fight between two chisel-jawed handsome dudes with huge swords longer than the length of their entire bodies that pieced together would last an hour long and takes place over the span of 5 episodes? You know those fights? It's essentially a gigantic testosterone-inducing, meathead of a good time, with the occasional glimpse of the cute girl hopelessly in love staring at her beloved fighting to save the universe... or something. Yeah, that's pretty much a visual representation of this entire album.

Ok, I'm not sure if it made sense, but believe me, it does. The chorus for "Song For The Hopeless" is just amplified by the high strings in the background, and just sends chills down my spine just listening to it. It's filled with a nice balance of screams and singing, and it's very melodic overall, this album, all the while beautiful string melodies and harmonies amplify the action.

So even though that's pretty much a representation of the entire album, I'd be remiss if I didn't try to explain just why the addition of strings is so game-changing in the world of metal, and the answer is quite simple really, boiled down to two words; emotion and texture.

First, texture. When describing metal, I like to look at it as if i were making a burger. The big meaty power chords and breakneck drumming is the meat. Tasty, but a bit overwhelming and bland if all you do is mash hamburgers down your gullet every single day, especially when adding screaming, which is probably the bacon. Add singing, though, and it adds a second personality, a different texture, but sometimes really irrelevant, like lettuce. Symphonic textures and orchestral overdubs add a completely fresh take though. Consider it like adding condiments like ketchup, or cheese and onions to the burger. Think about that. You wouldn't eat cheese, onions, lettuce and ketchup between two burger buns without any meat, there's no meat. Combine the two together and what you get is... well, you get a lot of calories, mind, but what you REALLY have is a tasty treat that tastes familiar, but it creates a feel-good sensation that you'll always come back to time and time again. Hamburgers are boring. Bacon cheeseburgers are the [&*!#].

(And to REALLY spice up your metalcore recipe, take a page or two from The Browning and add electronic and dubstep elements to your breakdowns, kind of like add a nice sharp pickle to your burger. It's another sharp flavor that adds to the savoriness of the burger (metal) and can actually work well together with piano and symphonic elements [condiments]).

Secondly, it's also emotion. I read an article a while ago on a British newspaper site that metal and classical listeners actually share more in common than you might think, and the major connecting factor is emotion. Both genres are single-handedly DEFINED by emotion. Metal essentially is the primary outlet for displaying angst, rage and anger for musicians, and classical music essentially did the same espcially in the 1800's, when the Romantic era of music encouraged the expression of one's personal emotions and feelings through pen and paper of the orchestral grand staff. Put the two together, and it seems like a marriage made in heaven. Really. No, it's not the most authentic sounding strings on this album, but it doesn't need to. The huge presence of the piano and string overdubs as a major player on this album provides a certain clarity and emotion that's just distinctly unique to this band and this album. The sounds on this album are just never going to be duplicated anywhere else.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for epic strings and orchestral tension. Maybe that's why I can't stop listening to epic trailer music. Maybe I'm a loser. I don't know, but I can't be alone. I despise grindcore, it all sounds the same, and yet I always seem to come back to Fleshgod Apocalypse, because their saturation of strings and epic choral chords on top of never-ending pounding blastbeats creates the most brutal and yet original soundscape I've ever heard.

It may be as simple as adding strings or orchestral samples to liven up any musical genre, or adding rock or metal bands to a full orchestra a la trailer music. The truth is, it works, and if you don't believe me, just crack this album open and give it a shot if you're even remotely a fan of metalcore. Again, this isn't a prog based rating at all, this isn't prog at all, it's just a damn good album.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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