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Dead Can Dance - Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun CD (album) cover

WITHIN THE REALM OF A DYING SUN

Dead Can Dance

 

Prog Folk

4.10 | 190 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Kempokid
4 stars Now this is an album I used to absolutely love, the evocative imagery of medieval castles and gothic horror providing an extremely interesting listening experience overall, and one that I hadn't heard executed to such a high degree of quality. Now that I've gotten over my mind being blown by such a sound, I've got to say that this album still manages to be a very interesting listen to me, due to just how perfect an atmosphere it has, having an air of mystery to it while being able to be both intense and emotionally hard hitting, depending on what the band is going for at the time. And after all, despite the novelty of this sound wearing off on me by now, it definitely doesn't change the fact that I can't think of too many albums that manage to be this perfectly atmospheric, even if the songwriting can sometimes fall a bit flat, leading to this being duller than it could have been at times.

With all this said, there are 2 songs on here that I believe are genuine masterpieces, the first being the opening track, Anywhere Out of the World. The minute and a half long buildup not only manages to perfectly evoke the image of a grand church or castle, but one in the middle of a great storm, surrounding trees being torn to pieces by the strong wind and heavy rain. Whether of not this was intentional doesn't matter to me, it's still one of the strongest images I've ever gleaned from a song. The ghostly vocals only add to the rich atmosphere that's being built upon with each passing second, the grandiose nature of it all, especially the instrumental melody being jaw droppingly powerful. I'm quite a big fan of how some of the more initially insignificant instrumental tracks such as Windfall manage to often be quite well crafted, starting off repetitive but once again gradually building, becoming denser as time goes on in order to maintain the atmosphere. In the Wake of Adversity similarly upholds a mysterious sound to a very similar effect. Xavier is the second masterpiece of the album, once again taking a while to build up to the main portion of the song, but making every second worth it, establishing a very sombre tone that's further heightened by the fact that it feels like a funeral procession. In terms of power, this song is near unmatched, with every chord played having such weight and emotion behind it, compounded by the further emotion of the chorus. This is just overall one of the greatest songs I've heard in my opinion, everything manages to work so perfectly.

Despite so far thinking that this is an incredible album, here's where I find the problems start to surface, as all of the songs utilising the female vocals feel more hit and miss. Dawn of the Iconoclast feels short and underdeveloped, the blaring brass compounded with the dramatic, repetitive singing in another language just doesn't really do anything of interesting note. Cantara has similar problems, albeit to a much lesser extent, it just ends up almost feeling like an overlong interlude, although I do love the pace of this quite a lot, sounding far more fitting for the sort of grandiose flair that the song has, and end up enjoying it quite a bit regardless. Summoning of the Muse makes excellent use of vocal layering to create an extremely busy, yet never disorienting soundscape, chiming church bells adding once again to the atmosphere that's been so perfect throughout. Persephone may end the album on a somewhat weaker note, being the one track that feels as if it goes on for far too long, and also just not being able to really feel evocative or that interesting, the buildup of the song being slow to a fault, making the payoff end up feeling unsatisfying, it's a mediocre end to the album, though it is absolutely beautiful nonetheless.

I feel if the second half of this album were polished some more, this could be an absolutely incredible album, but as it stands, I find it slightly inconsistent. This is mostly rectified by the fact that it has 2 songs on it which manage to be near perfectly crafted masterpieces, ultimately helping in making this album very worthwhile. What also makes this an album I find great is the rich, evocative atmosphere and imagery that's everywhere in here, the medieval sound of it being very interesting, especially given how well it's utilised to create an album that truly feels unique. This is definitely an album that both immediately reveals its greatness, while also leaving a lot of room to have this album grow on you, and is easily an album that I consider a must listen, despite some inconsistencies.

Best tracks: Anywhere Out of the World, Xavier, Summoning of the Muse

Weakest tracks: Dawn of the Iconoclast, Persephone

Verdict: This is easily one of the most atmospherically rich album I've listened to, the strong neoclassical sound it has combined with excellent songwriting leading to a number of songs which are near untouchable in terms of how evocative they manage to be. While it's definitely a bit inconsistent in the second half to me, the highlights are all so good that it's something that can be overlooked to a degree, making this an album I do consider a must listen.

Kempokid | 4/5 |

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