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SHEPHERDS OF CASSINI

Experimental/Post Metal • New Zealand


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Shepherds Of Cassini biography
SHEPHERDS OF CASSINI are an Aukland, New Zealand based progressive metal act that combines aspects of post metal with middle-eastern influenced riffs and heavy dynamics comparable to bands such as TOOL. There's also a strong sense of psychedelia to their sound as well as quieter passages that showcase their instrumental flair with a gentle touch. Vocals are sparse yet smooth, adding an extra element to their sound. Founded in 2012, their self titled first album was released on August 24, 2013. The band roster currently includes Omar AL-HASHIMI on drums and Vitesh BAVA on bass, both from the defunct progressive rock act PILGRIM'S PYRE. On electric violin is Felix LUN from the psychedelic/space rock act AN EMERALD CITY, and Brendan ZWAAN provides the guitar and vocals.

Biography by Prog Sothoth

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3.82 | 9 ratings
Shepherds Of Cassini
2013
3.88 | 14 ratings
Helios Forsaken
2015

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 Helios Forsaken by SHEPHERDS OF CASSINI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.88 | 14 ratings

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Helios Forsaken
Shepherds Of Cassini Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars A while back I was at a gig at Dead Witch and watching the soundcheck when I realised, I recognised one of the musicians, Felix Lun. I had not seen Felix in years, as I had seen Shepherds of Cassini a few times back in the day but was aware they were no longer active. He was only guesting that night, but it turned out that he and drummer Omar Al-Hashimi were in a new and very different band called Star Control, so I went long and reviewed them when I could as well. I was back at Dead Witch a while later and Omar came up to me and said he was pleased I was there as he wanted to give me something, namely a CD of their second album, 2015's 'Helios Forsaken'. I was very pleased as I was sure I only had the download, but it has taken until recently for me to realise that not only did I not have that but had not actually heard the album and had never reviewed it. 2015 was the year we left Auckland for Canterbury, so am sure that must be the reason, but am determined some eight years after the event to put matters straight.

I first discovered Shepherds through guitarist and singer Brendan Zwaan as I knew him as the keyboard player for Mice On Stilts, with the line-up completed by bassist Vitesh Bava. When I first came across them I was not too sure, and 7 years after my review of their debut first appeared Felix shocked me that he could still remember what I had written, as I had said, "The first time I played this not only did I not understand what I was really listening to, I actually didn't like it at all", only coming around at the end. That was not the case this time though, as I loved it from the off and that feeling only kept growing the more I played it. Produced again by Dave Rhodes, one of our most well-known rock producers (and a drummer himself), he has captured a band most unlike any others I have come across, not only in Auckland but internationally.

Although they are not an instrumental band as such, they often have very long instrumental passages, with Felix and Brendan either combining in frenetic activity or allowing the other to take the lead. Omar and Vitesh do not appear to understand how to put in place a basic rhythmic foundation and instead are providing their own melodies, counter melodies and patterns so there is always a great deal of movement within the platform which the others are basing their own approach on. There is a lot of Middle Eastern stylings within this, and by having lengthy numbers (three are more than 14 minutes) they can really develop the sounds and threads. These threads are hugely intricate, building massively expansive tapestries which combine cultures, genres and styles in a manner which is so very different indeed. I am convinced that if they had been performing in London they would have been very well known indeed, and even I am taken aback when Brendan changes from singing sweetly to forcing out the words in "The Amalgest".

My understanding is the band came to a natural end when Vitesh moved overseas, but I believe he is now back, so I hope they may decide to have a gig just for old times' sake and if that happens I will be there, front and centre. This is a wonderful album, and if you want prog that is very much out of the norm yet also easy to listen to if you enjoy complexity then this is for you. BTW, their Bandcamp site is still active, and this is available as a download for just $5 NZD, so what have you to lose?

 Helios Forsaken by SHEPHERDS OF CASSINI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.88 | 14 ratings

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Helios Forsaken
Shepherds Of Cassini Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JohnNicholson

4 stars Not so many of that can make me happy like it's the case when out of nowhere a great new album comes my way. And then I am in an euphoria for days, making each new listening session a totally new experience. The excitement is even bigger when it's a new, young band that has just learned swimming in an overcrowded ocean. Shepherds of Cassini is exactly that; a 'young' and 'unknown' band, and thanks to good folk at the Prog Sphere PR team I got myself introduced to this group hailing from New Zealand. 'Helios Forsaken' is their second full-length album, a follow-up to 2013's self-titled debut.

The band from Auckland in New Zealand is active since 2012, and it took them about two years to complete the work on their sophomore release. With already developed format of performing lengthy tunes, and featuring (un)conventional violin in the line-up, it's obvious that we talk about an ambitious project. And that they are. Their ambition is showed in a right way, and with 'Helios Forsaken' you get a real piece of art.

Though the band's self-titled debut is a very impressive release, with 'Helios Forsaken' Shepherds of Cassini have surpassed themselves. With a wise balance of instrumentation and vocal performance, Shepherds show that they are an experienced act with impressive technical skills. On long tracks 'The Amalgest,' 'Mauerfall' and 'Helios Forsaken' the band demonstrates these skills, dominance and diversity. They also show what Shepherds of Cassini is about by creating various sonic landscapes which bring plenty of different vibes. Probably the brightest side of the band beside knowing how to present themselves is ability of merging with the environment.

With 'Helios Forsaken' Shepherds of Cassini gave another homework both for themselves and the scene itself. This band is a genre per se. Quality, innovation, bravery, ambition and love towards music erupt from every tone. This is a band that certainly has quality and potential to become one of the leaders of the new generation progressive metal bands.

 Shepherds Of Cassini by SHEPHERDS OF CASSINI album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 9 ratings

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Shepherds Of Cassini
Shepherds Of Cassini Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars The more I discover about the local NZ music scene, the more impressed I am by the quality and diversity of what is available down here. Shepherds Of Cassini are another case in point. Hailing from Auckland they were formed in 2012 by Omar Al-Hashimi on drums (from Pilgrim's Pyre), Vitesh Bava on bass (from Pilgrim's Pyre), Felix Lun on electric violin (from An Emerald City) and Brendan Zwaan on guitar and vocals (from Flood). Imagine if you will Ozric Tentacles using violin instead of wind, and bringing in stoner elements as they experiment with sound, then you may come close. Of course you need to add to that list the tribal rhythms and especially the middle eastern influences and then you may get somewhere close.

The first time I played this not only did I not understand what I was really listening to, I actually didn't like it at all. The songs often were over-long ("Eyelid" is eighteen minutes), I couldn't work out why I was playing it (apart from being asked to) and it just didn't work. But, I determined that the fault was probably with me as opposed to the music, especially as I kept hearing good things about them in the scene, so I persevered, and it was only on the third time through that it started to make sense. From there on in every play has just cemented my view that this is an incredible piece of work in so many ways. For the most part this is pure instrumental, and sounds as if the guys were playing this live in the studio, working with each other and bouncing ideas. Instead of being too long, the songs were now too short, and the simple almost na´ve complexity really brought me in. I'm not overly sure of the drums sound, as to my hearing the snare is too high in the mix, but that really is just being picky.

This is never going to be an immediate album, but is definitely worth persevering with, and can be streamed from Bandcamp before purchase so if you want to try something that is definitely more than a little different then this may well be for you.shepherdsofcassini.bandcamp.com

Thanks to aapatsos for the artist addition.

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