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Arise From Thorns. - 60%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 26th, 2008

Progressive rock/metal band Brave are an act I’ve come to love since I discovered them which was sometime during the middle of the year. Somehow, and I don’t see how it was possible, but I managed to completely miss the fact that Brave weren’t always known by that name. Oh no, that’s right. According to Metal Archives, Brave began in 1997, which I find perplexing. Arise From Thorns, what Brave were known as before the alternative alias came about, were formed in 1996, a year before Brave. It must be a factual error, or I’m completely missing the point because Arise From Thorns were supposed to have changed their name to Brave, but both bands were created a mere year apart. Anyway, aside from this confusion, Arise From Thorns are a different prospect to Brave, but share a number of similarities which shine through on their second effort, ‘Before An Audience Of Stars’ more so than on this self-titled effort, ‘Arise From Thorns’. This American hybrid act are stated to have released two full-length records just a year apart, despite the fact that they had already changed their name by then. I think its about time I gave up on that issue, don’t you? Anyway, this effort, ‘Arise From Thorns’ is rather unconventional in a unique manner, sprinkling moments of splendor into an unusual mixture of doom, gothic and progressive rock/metal.

In all honesty, I don’t hear the supposed doom influences. I can concur with both the gothic and progressive tags however. Unfortunately, unlike Brave, Arise From Thorns don’t employ extravagant violins on this record. Suvo Sor, the violinist on Brave’s material, is a superb asset to the band, exploring emotive themes with mellifluous and melancholic violins which enhance the structures of the soundscapes. As well as this tremendous introduction on to Brave’s second full-length, ‘Monuments’, Arise From Thorns don’t include a second guitarist, which also disappoints the listener. The omission of the second guitarist, who places an intensified impact on the soundscapes is dangerous and risky. Arise From Thorns should perhaps be forgiven as this is the debut from the band, under both names. The evolution of this band isn’t well documented as they seem to be rather obscure in the grand scheme of things, but it should be noted that although Brave is a more matured outfit, this band is where it all began. The style, which incorporates highly emotional and passionate aspects is rife from the beginning. The use spoken male vocals, for example, provides the listener with something different and refreshing that Brave don’t provide the audience with. However, though this is the case, the male vocals are really rather redundant. Despite this, Michelle’s vocals stand up as some of the best female vocals in rock/metal I’ve heard. I don’t know whether its wishful thinking or not, but there are occasions, like on ‘The Calling’ when her voice reminds me of Anneke’s from The Gathering, which I’m sure will make this band more marketable. When she sings in full voice, the comparisons aren’t as glaringly obvious, but I’m sure they still exist to some extent.

Michelle Loose isn’t particularly well known within this genre, or metal in general, but her vocals are sufficient enough to portray the lyrics, which are supplied, unlike with Brave’s material. Having said that, the vocals, both male and female, are clean and due to the production, both sets of vocals are accessible and audible to the audience, who is delighted more so by Michelle than the male vocalist. Arise From Thorn’s lyrics aren’t as powerful as Brave’s, from what I gather, but they run on themes that I find interesting enough to enjoy at the time. Arise From Thorns show a maturity in their lyrics though the music isn’t quite up to the same standard.

“Forever looking to the skies above
Rest child, worry not, for all things come in time
And you will see.”

“Lonely sad, I'm sleeping, dreaming of the Sun
I'm waiting for something
The sounds of Winter's night
and the cold rain raining,
While I stand alone watching the oldest fire burning.”

These lyrics act as an example to what I mean by a maturity in the lyrics. There is an undeniable feel to the lyrics that the narrator is wise and perhaps all knowing. In some ways, these lyrics could be seen as ironic. We’re the child and Arise From Thorns are indicating to us that although they may not have perfected their sound just yet, they will in the future, which they do (yes, I know I’m delving into it a bit too much, but let me be!). I suppose another disappointing factor about this self-titled piece would be the length. Its far too short and there are two too many filler tracks, which add little impact upon the soundscapes. However, there are enough elements included in each song to warrant some praise. The inclusion of vocal duets, pianos (which adds a fair amount of melancholic melody to proceedings), leading bass and acoustics (which sound very good alongside clean vocals and the piano sections) make this record far from tedious. Its unfortunate that the songs included on this record, perhaps apart from the brilliant ‘Remember The Stars’, that there aren’t many stand out moments. Instead the music drifts by without a direction for the most part, which is not helped by the inclusion of several pointless filler tracks. Again, this isn’t a terrible record, it just isn’t particularly special. Not as good in comparison to ‘Before An Audience Of Stars’ (which contains several of the same songs) or to Brave’s material, which is a big step up from the likes of songs such as ‘To Dance By The Moonlight’. Definitely missing the presence and power of Suvo Sor. Could be better, but could be worse.