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Rest assured: the Stockholm sky hasn't brightened - 70%

autothrall, March 29th, 2013

The second recording under the Soliloquium monicker, The Concept of Escape seeks a mild expansion of the melodic, saddened hues of its predecessor, the When Silence Grows Venomous. It's successful in doing so, thanks largely to the dichotomy of three vocal styles and a tidal balance of driving melodic rhythm guitars and somber segues through which other emotions can breathe; but that's not to say that it's really a vast improvement over their earlier songs, nor is it highly unique when compared to the legacies of its influences, bands like October Tide and Katatonia who have certainly laid out the groundwork for what Jonas Bergkvist and Stefan Nordström. Still, there's a humble authenticity to the material which makes for a pleasant listen, and if you're the sort to stare in awe at the gathering dusk, or freeze frames of falling leaves within your minds' eye, then I do not doubt you can connect to this demo on an emotional level.

This is not the music of brazen complexity, and the duo aren't just over-tracking and over-layering dozens of guitars. They set pace with a simple, rambling clean guitar line like that of "Remnant of Dying Dreams" (which languishes somewhere between Katatonia and Lake of Tears), and then plug in the rumbling distortion of the bass and develop into a fell, glorious sequence of simple chords that support the deeper growls, which are reminiscent of Jonas Renkse from the October Tide debut, albeit a bit dryer and wispier. Few if any riffs linger on beyond their welcome, and they adventure mildly into a few choice squeals and mournful melodies. However, they also implement a placid, clean vocal (in "Crossroads") and some higher pitched snarls that help to offset the monotony inherent in just a straight growl; without coming off as if they're meandering or wimpy or imbalanced. The drums are nice, laid back grooves with choice fills, but capable of picking up the momentum necessary for one of those mid-paced, defining chord progressions that serve as paeans to the Swedes' native influences. The melodic phrases come to a climax near the end of the nearly 10 minute finale "Nighttime Revelations", where they pop out over the more subdued rhythm guitar and come off like an inevitable release of tears.

All told, the 25 minutes of content are quite consistent with one another, and with the prior demo, only I did feel as if the arching melodies had a broader effect. Do they push their boundaries enough? Not really, and in some sense Soliloquium faces an uphill battle in that many of their note and chord choices seem inevitable and at worst, predictable. The songs are catchy enough while you're swept up in them, but just not extremely memorable later on. I didn't find myself pining over their absence, though this is the very MUSIC of pining and longing. As a demo, it's fluid and functional and the duo are apt at capturing the surface levels of sadness and regret so essential to their craft; but it rarely delves much deeper, and so even though the net widens, it is still only pulling in the same melancholic catch. It 'escapes', but not for very long. Further experimentation in chord structure, dissonance and rhythm/temp will only strengthen these Swedes' cause, but The Concept of Escape is not really problematic beyond the fact that it's flowing over previously dredged terrain. Another decent demo, but if they get around to recording a full-length, more variation could be crucial.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com