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Rainburn - Canvas of Silence CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.33 | 5 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Disclaimer: I know the band's chief songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist Vats Iyengar personally and have heard the rough versions of some of the tracks on this EP, Canvas of Silence, long before their release. I don't think this makes me too partial to be able to review, though, and my rating probably affirms to that.

With that, let's get started with the review. Rainburn is one of the very few Indian bands - and I personally don't know any other - that approaches Indo-Western music synthesis from a predominantly Western perspective. Usually, Indian artists either approach this kind of fusion by infusing a lot of Western instrumentation in a mostly Indian composition (in terms of melody). If they do try to make it more Westernised, then this usually consists of sticking on a Carnatic/Hindustani tinged guitar lead to a rock song. Check out the 2012 Bollywood chartbuster Sun Raha Hai Na for Exhibit, no, on second thoughts, better don't! With very few exceptions like the extremely prolific composer Ilayaraja, Indo-Western fusion, with the greatest respect, tends to lack depth and substance. It is perhaps no coincidence that the members of Rainburn consider Ilayaraja to be a source of inspiration.

Rainburn do not wear the Indian side of their music on their sleeve. It is coaxed into the music gently and subtly so that it never sounds forced or gimmicky. What their music essentially is then is extremely accessible prog metal. Again, this is prog metal with a strong emphasis on songwriting rather than shred. There is not much flab or noodling in any of the five tracks that make up the EP. Leads, wherever they appear, tend to be brief and concise. Rainburn also emphasise contrast very effectively. They make room for generous portions of soft guitar textures to balance out the heavy metal riffage. The contrast between the soft and the hard is more of an organic blend here than jarring juxtaposition.

Thus, while Rainburn evoke Pain of Salvation in terms of their hard-soft contrast, they avoid the latter's more dramatic and drastic changes. As already alluded to, their songs are concise and in this respect, they distinguish themselves from one of their most prominent guessed it, Dream Theater. There's also some Rush and a bit of Steely Dan as well. I shall not point out instances of these lest I spoil the fun for listeners reading this review. At times, their source of influence is quite evident, obvious even, but mostly it's subtle and, in totality, presents a sound that is quite unlike anything you may have heard before. And let's not forget the aforementioned Indian elements while we're at it.

All five tracks offer something distinct for the listener and each is well crafted and satisfying though Time Turns Around is perhaps just a bit too short to be sumptuous. But I mean that in a good way; it ends just as one is hoping it goes on for a lot longer. I don't think I would be doing justice to the rating system if I gave this a five. It would have to be utterly, undeniably seminal at the very least to justify the highest rating and as original as it may be, Canvas of Silence isn't quite that.

So what will the next Rainburn release bring? Will Rainburn write longer prog epics or will they get even more concise, to ask the cliched proghead question? Will they widen their instrumental palate or stick to the double guitar set up? Personally, I am more curious about the direction in which their Indo-Western synthesis proceeds: does it get deeper from hereon or will they write more full Western material? Here's hoping the next Rainburn album materialises pretty soon and we get the answer to some of these questions.

rogerthat | 4/5 |


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