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A Big Goodbye - Sounds & Silences CD (album) cover


A Big Goodbye


Heavy Prog

3.63 | 77 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars The sounds and silences of a wonderful musical experience.

'Sounds and Silences' is a very well produced album from newcomer to the scene, A Big Goodbye. Admittedly, my first impression, listening while I was doing something else, was that it was just another standard prog metal album with nothing new to offer. On my third listen I put on the headphones and that is when I realised what a truly remarkable album this is. It really is designed for headphones and one would gain the full experience if they concentrated on the lyrics as they have a powerful story to tell; one that seems to run as a theme on the album. Each song builds up this story and there does not seem to be a happy ending as, after all, not everything turns out like a fairytale. The story concentrates on a protagonist who is reaching out for the girl of his dreams but she is totally non interested.

Thinking Out Loud begins this album quite well with a slow acoustic verse and the soft vocals of Daniel Mills. It then cranks up with a manic metal riff that has a progressive time sig. This style is a dominant feature of the album, soft vocals, melodic verses and bursts of blazing metal riffing guitars. The chorus is loud and the lyrics are based on broken relationships and isolated dreams unfulfilled; 'When I see your face everything around starts to burn and I feel like I have found everything that I could ever want wrapped up in you, wrapped up in your pretty smile.' The heavy machine gun riffs of Matt Glisson are aggressive and signify that the love that is forsaken is cutting deep in the protagonists heart and mind. The choice is yours says the protagonist but it seem like a lost cause, a girl who is rejecting him reaching out. The theme is one that most of us can relate to, the feeling of rejection and the untouchable girl of our dreams who will never be; 'when your mind is so far away'.

I really love Solitude, killer riffs and very heavy distortion are a key feature. The melody is infectious and there are proggish time signatures. The song structure is innovative with detours into some metrical patterns that shape the atmosphere. Great lyrics too; 'You see yourself without your soul, But inside you'll fight with yourself not to lose control, I'll be here 'til the end, Waiting for all the love that you promised you'd send, So now I'm stuck here waiting for love, Waiting for love, I was a fool to think from the start that you would come.' The mid section with fast chugging riffs and keyboard motifs is wonderful. Time sig changes occur a few more times and then it locks into a moderate feel with majestic synthesizer and an acoustic section. This one is a definitive highlight of the album.

The Great Divide begins with an acoustic intro that moves along nicely with strong chord changes and chime bell keyboards from Matt. Once again the vocals keep time with the syncopated rhythm; 'Is something wrong with searching for the peace of mind I'll never find? All alone, I'm looking back, back across the great divide, And seeing you standing there and wanting to be by your side, A love that cannot be denied.' The slow feel is broken only by a louder chorus. The sound generated on this track reminds me of Neal Morse style or Rush in some ways. The instrumental break builds to a heavier feel. Mention must be made of the great drumming style too from Andrew Glisson, that consistently keeps a complex rhythm gaining in pace. The grungier guitar sound and faster pace augment the atmosphere which is downbeat towards the end. The time sig completely changes with very heavy sounding guitars, and sustained key pads, creating dark atmospheric shades. It is admirable how the music changes completely by the end of the track but never feels out of place. At 6:30 a tom tom beat locks in with clean guitar twangs. The mixing is exemplary, every instrument is distinguishable, and it is a sensational soundscape generated. When the saxophone sound chimed in I felt shivers up the spine, it works so brilliantly with a melancholy feel, powerful and emotional.

The saxophone sound begins it's lonely wail over an acoustic and synthetic spacey keyboard. Out of nowhere heavy guitars break through interrupting the peace. February Girl has a great rocking feel which is more upbeat than previous tracks. The synths are mixed to the front to lift the music up to a crescendo. The fast metal riffing in the verses is tight and very effective. The instrumental break is dominated by keyboards with a consistent distorted guitar presence. This one has a catchy chorus with strong melodies. The song builds in heaviness at the end. Nice and short, and perhaps worthy of being a single.

The Door features a great chorus with very good vocal performance from Daniel; 'open the door for me, let me trace my steps, wish I could change it all, but I'm too obsessed, open the door for me, so I can find my way, find my way outta here and leave it all behind me.' The music is a slow rock tempo, with an effective lead break, and simple notes tracing the main melody. The bridge has a wonderful half time feel with a higher register in vocals. It settles then into a softer chorus. The infectious hooks are going to grow on you as the album does on each listen.

A very heavy distortion and metal riffs begin In My Dreams. The darkness of the music is broken by soft cadence in the verses. The chorus is full of angst and passionate pleas for releasing her image from the mind; 'In my dreams, in my mind, in my thoughts, you will find, prison I'm in, so far away, to get out soon before it's too late.' Most of us can relate to being haunted by someone who had an impact on us, a girl in this case, and it is here where the song resonated with me. Having a girl imprisoned or locked in one's mind is the main focus; to find freedom from the mind is the ultimate goal. The song works on that level relating to those who have been through a painful broken relationship, or are longing for love that will never be realised.

Memories features pleasant soft saxophone sounds and vocals that permeate the tranquil atmosphere. It gets heavier with Matt's lead guitar break, one of the best on the album. I really like the melody on the track and the way it builds tempo. The song completely changes at 2:50 for the better, with a rock time shift. The main melody is still there in the chorus though it is faster and more energetic. The brass section is majestic. The storyteller lyrics are innovative; 'Dazed and confused, he felt dizzy from the thought, of the after thought,' the protagonist is obviously haunted by past hurts and he is 'lost within his mind, memories from their past, memories he holds on to.' After a brief upsurge in heaviness the song really settles into a serene passage with acoustic and gentle vocals at 6:45. The protagonist now has a sense of remorse and reflective lyrics come through; 'There's no other way to ease the pain, I find it hard to say what's in my heart.' The minimalist acoustic and electric piano seem to echo the sadness of the words. There is a story to follow that is both compelling and endearing; 'he crossed searching for piece of mind, he needs something to hold onto to get him through this time, when will I move on, when will I get away, will this ever end, I hope it is today, not sure how to feel, he lies down on the floor, wishing she was with him, be careful what you wish for.' The enigmatic words are enhanced with some inventive musical shapes, shades of dark and light abound. A saxophone provides light while the guitars are always present to provide darkness. There is a genuine sense of tension and release in the music. The lengthy instrumental break is replete with an organic structure made possible by lilting piano and steady percussion. Finally all that is left are Andrew's isolated drums that signify the album is over.

Listening to the album was a complete delight as it provides just the right measure of metal, it took me a while to get into but the vocals are pleasant to listen to and it has a definite progressive feel. I like the simplicity in the message that resonates with those who have been through it. It has just the right measure of metal, listenable vocals and some divine instrumental passages. The highlights for me are the brilliant Solitude, followed closely by In My Dreams and The Great Divide. There are certainly moments that are not as good, and the band will improve with subsequent releases, but this album was still an achievement and comes recommended for those who like prog metal without an abundance of aggression but rather balanced with quiet reflection and musical innovation.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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