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I’ve been having fits trying to describe this, as frankly it doesn’t sound like anything else that came before it. This is its own galaxy in terms of genre, and it’s odd because there isn’t much here sonically very different from other contemporary prog bands. The difference lies in the songwriting, which is consistently arcane and labyrinthine, always surprising and yet melodically mellow and soothing.
This is just a set of unforgettable songs that grows on you like fungus. Shadrane, a Vivien Lalu-fronted project that only put out this one album six years ago now, is just great music that took its time to work its way into my brain. Lalu has crafted short, meticulous songs that are oft-free-flowing and fluid to the point where you don’t hear the insane craftsmanship behind them until you’re listening for it. The songs initially come off as jagged, obtuse yet melodic prog rock, with heavy rumbling guitars alternating with mellow sections and harmonized, high-pitched vocals. With further listens you start to hear the deftly placed acoustic guitars, the vocal layering creating tapestries of human emotion and more - it’s just the ingenuity of the songwriting. These are dizzyingly complex and melodic songs, with textured and intricate hooks that sink into your subconscious and a ton of feeling and epic scope behind them. I could listen to this once a day and hear new, different things I hadn’t heard before each time. In fact, that’s pretty much what I have been doing.
It’s equally tough to point out stand out tracks. The opening title track is an overture to what you’ll hear later on: shimmering, breezy guitars and melodic textures to the vocals that will warm your soul. “I Remember” is a dense, climactic epic with huge vocals and headstrong swathes of melody. “She Writes” is an instant winner with Dream Theateresque vocal acrobatics a la Images and Words combined with silky, propulsive guitar and key tradeoffs. “Rainy,” like a light kiss, passes by with the album’s softest and most tender touch, building up to the melodic mastery of “Lantern’s Dance” - which boasts an instantly memorable hook. “Consider It” is a slick, jazzy number that sort of glazes over your ears at first, but then later becomes one of the more charismatic tracks on display.
I’m pretty much just enamored with this album. It’s a set of paradoxes - accessible and poppy while also being one of the more enigmatic, mysterious prog albums I’ve ever heard. It’s melodic but also challenging. Despite its mellow nature, the articulation and amount of sheer ideas in the songwriting makes it come off as a lot more electrifying and confrontational. I like that this took so many listens to really “get.” It’s a strange distinction there, as sometimes you hear an album and don’t like it and won’t want to play it again, and that just means it’s not for you. But I heard this album and knew there was more to it. So I kept listening to it, which really wasn’t a choice - I was pulled back, again and again, addicted to the music on this album. That’s the best sign I can think of that an album needs to grow on you.
If you like bands like Circus Maximus, old Queensryche or Dream Theater, Rush, Threshold or any bands in between, Shadrane will be up your alley. It’s mesmeric, compelling stuff that will take hold of your imagination and run with it.
“Suffering is apart of life
The end is just the beginning
From mistress to wife
From happiness to sorrow.”
Lyrics taken from the inspirational and beautiful ‘Rainy’. Shadrane are a band I’ve been looking forward to hearing for some time. With members, most notably Vivien Lalu, from bands I consider to be some of the most underrated progressive metal/rock groups in the business, ranging from Lalu to Silent Call, Shadrane are a French progressive band who inflict a contrasting state of emotions on their listener, which is imposed on us, in particular, by the lyrics which suggest a contrasting record is about to follow. From the happiness of the intoxicating guitars, to the sorrow of the soundscapes, symphonies and vocals, which are particularly inspiring in their approach. This band consists of many talented musicians, from Lalu on keyboards, which provides much of the symphonic sound, to Wolters (also a member of Vivien‘s main project, Lalu) on guitar and bass, to the vocalists Henrik Båth, Björn Jansson and Göran Edman. The members exhibit by themselves what a talented band this act has the potential to be and with their debut, ‘Temporal’, Shadrane signify that they are willing to take up the challenge to become a progressive ‘super group’ and dominate the scene for years to come. On the basis of this effort, they have a chance at doing so and with some ease and they explore extraordinary soundscapes littered with lush symphonies and ground breaking musical movements. There is an essential feel to the instrumentation, making each song as impacting as the next, even if certain one’s stick out more so than others. One would think that, due to the complexities in the abstract soundscapes, there would be a sense of pretension attached to the sound, but there is no overly outward projection of that and Shadrane manage to manoeuvre around the idea of only concentrating on abstract nonsensical musings.
Songs like the aforementioned and the oriental sounding ‘Lanterns Dance’ which skips around in a catchy playful way due to the fanciful guitars (Asia is even mentioned in the sample used on the song) and the overwhelmingly emotional ‘Rainy’ (the art work for this record seems to be based around songs like these in particular), Shadrane explore experimentation with coolness and ease. The musicianship is top notch and song writing suffers no harm from such a contrasting line-up. The band provides its audience with an insight to evolutionary music that could even become revolutionary with enough exposure. Considering the members of this band and the associated acts, that is possible. It may seem confusing as to why Shadrane use so many members, with even two or more musicians in one section (like the use of numerous vocalists or two bassists), but the soundscapes are so intricate and complex, that it is actually beneficial for the French act to acquire the influence that these guest musicians can offer the record. ’Temporal’ is explicitly carrying out an open relationship with experimentation and all that that involves. From symphonic harmonies, to catchy sweeping guitars and furthermore to excruciatingly epic vocals, this band has it all. There is no one more important element than another, it is all significant in its approach and thankfully so. This allows no area of instrumentation to become overshadowed as it explores the evolutionary world of fantasy and reality in terms of the abstract and concrete lyrical themes and soundscapes which successfully manoeuvre between the mystical and the real essences of life, love and music.
As a wise man once said, “I don't believe in science. Only love, sex and music.” All three elements of life are heavily involved in this record. Love and loss is expressed through the lyrics and the instrumentation with affection, allurement and artistry. Sex is what I want to have with this record (if only my genitals could fit through the holes in Cds) and music is, obviously, what this is. As touched upon earlier, Shadrane supply significant amounts of beauty to the listener and are exquisitely talented at excommunicating themselves with pretension, a trait often used to describe the complexity of progressive metal/rock. The use of numerous musicians in one area heightened the sense of successfulness that the record portrays to the listener. Two bassists supply intricate and leading lines that deliver lush and emotive ground work that supports the lead guitars. Shadrane use numerous guitarists to lay down the soundscapes, all of which play their part, adding their own influence to the beauty, depth and elegance. The instrumentation moves from one conjuration to another, picturesque landscapes, endless oceans of divine solos, all dealing specifically with several issues including sadness and sorrow, happiness and love, which are servants to our heart, pulling at their strings and tearing us down. There is a slight ‘cheese’ factor, due to the instrumentation and lyrics, which aren’t provided, as well as the image of Shadrane unfolding a story of a love-torn soldier on a cruise to the other side of the world to fight both an emotional and physical battle on different scales. The elegance and eloquence of the bass, guitars, keyboards, piano, symphonies, and vocals make this an intriguing mixture which supplies us with a reason to listen to progressive metal/rock extensively. This band has a very bright future.