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P.A.W.N. - The Gift Of Awareness CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.48 | 25 ratings

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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.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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