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Introitus - Shadows CD (album) cover





3.79 | 56 ratings

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4 stars "Introitus" is a Neo-prog band that was founded in 1999 in Sweden. The interesting thing about them is that 4 members of the band are a family: founder Mats Bender (keyboards) who is the father, his wife Anne (vocals), and their children Mattias (drums), and Johanna (vocals). On their 4th full length studio album, released in June of 2019, the remainder of the band line- up consists of Par Helje (guitar), Linnea Syrjala (accordion, ocarina, chalumeau, vocals), and Dennis Lindkvist (bass). The album consists of 7 tracks and has a total run time of just under an hour.

The music is surprisingly complex at times and heavy with solid guitar solos and keyboard flourishes. Par is definitely an impressive guitarist and Mats keyboards are full and have that definite Neo-prog sound. Anne's vocals are excellent, her voice is full and expressive, almost reminiscent of Nancy Wilson, not so much in tone though as in fullness, and the accent is not very heavy (the lyrics are in English). The other supporting musicians are impressive and keep right up with the professionalism of the music. The melodies are mostly quite accessible, and the instrumental passages are where you find more of the complex meter changes. The mix of guitar and keys is well balanced with plenty of soloing and riffs to keep things interesting.

"Belong" is a great opener and establishes the fact that this band is serious. It is stately and has a great combination of straightforward rock and passages of originality and progressiveness. "Shadows" approaches the 10 minute mark, and doesn't lack for excellent musicianship either. As in the previous track, the vocal sections are straightforward while the instrumental sections feature the mood, tempo and meter changes. This one features a softer section with some nice flute provided by guest Helena Tenstam. The lyrics are a bit weak in parts, but that is made up for in Anne's strong vocals. "Beyond Fantasy" starts off dreamlike with washes of synth. These washes back off a bit and one of those strange instruments starts playing, sounding almost like a bassy brass or wind instrument creating a nice texture especially with the wordless vocals created by the small chorus of vocalists. Then a nice piano comes in and another flute-like instrument plays. As the track continues, this lovely instrumental evokes passion and a certain natural or organic sound and a mix of sometimes heavy synth effects. The accordion comes in later providing a surprisingly soft texture. The music is very romantic sounding. Wordless vocals do come in later, and work to anchor the melody.

"Desperation" is the longest track at over 13 minutes. It is heralded in by a guitar riff and later an accordion. Expressive vocals soon join in as the music remains soft and supportive. The music remains slow in tempo and reserved through the first verse and the full band doesn't kick in until the bridge in the 2nd verse. The lyrics are again a bit weak, but that is really the only thing lacking here. Intensity builds through the 2nd chorus and the sound becomes much fuller with more guitar flourishes. Heavy guitar and accordion bring this into a sudden quicker tempo backed by throbbing guitar and the vocals return. Later, things soften again and the flute comes in and carries the instrumental section. Another tempo change brings in a synth solo. There are places where the rhythm seems a little off, but it's not too noticeable. Then the drums drop off and a reflective guitar solo with piano backing begins. The drums come back in with the bass, but this time playing a softer and slower rhythm while the piano and guitar compliment each other with the flute coming in again later. At 11 minutes, the tempo gets heavier and the vocals return followed by a climatic ending.

"Figures" starts off with a complex introduction with heavy guitars and synth. Processed vocals come in later and soon turn natural, but it isn't long before the guitar and keys are showing off again with several tempo and mood shifts. Later, there are wordless vocals in harmonized layers before Anne comes back in with stylized vocals, then there is a short bit of tech drumming thrown in for a short time at the ending. "My Hero" is a soft and straightforward song with vocals by guest Martin Jobs. I'm not sure what he might have in relation to the band or family, but the song seems to be quite personal, but it is a bit out of place here. It sounds like a young voice, probably a teenager. But then an older, more mature male voice comes in singing another verse, then they sing together. It's a bit schmaltzy and seems out of its element on this album, but at least it's only 4 minutes.

"Awakening" ends the album with an 11+ minute track. It starts off with a pensive piano with some sustained effects. The accordion comes in later taking over the spotlight while the piano supports. After 2 minutes, the synths bring a symphonic effect to the music as it swells, then the band comes in with the guitar leading the way with a moderately slow rhythm. Things intensify, the tempo picks up and a synth solo comes in. A short bass solo changes up the mood a bit, and things get more progressive with various style changes and more cool synth backed by dark guitar chords. The tempo slows and the guitar takes over again. Wordless vocals come in after 7 minutes and follow the guitar note for note. Sudden fast tempo shift and a swirling synth solo with effects bring in a more upbeat guitar solo with some impressive playing. This all breaks down at 9 minutes and a steady slow beat accompanies sustained synths, the return of wordless vocals and accordion. The tune builds a bit, but this continues to the end of the track.

This is a decent album by a very talented family and band. There is plenty here to back up the Neo-prog label they have and there is plenty of progressive aspects to make everyone happy. There is a degree of accessibility to the album with the simpler vocal melodies, but the strong vocals along with the excellent musicianship are big strengths for this album. It is well produced with some great sound. The biggest fault lies in some of the weak lyrics and that one tune "My Hero" that seems out of place here. But the album is still strong and deserves a 4 star rating for the musicality, progressive aspects and the strength of the vocalist.

TCat | 4/5 |


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