Album Review: Dulcinea – In the Shadow of the Sun

Dulcinea [Malaysia/Singapore]
In the Shadow of the Sun
2011
Full Length
Independent
Progressive Rock/Metal

In my transition between listening habits and genres, progressive metal and progressive rock have struck me as a particularly interesting one, with bands like Porcupine Tree and Riverside being some of the bands that have enchanted me with their releases. I would never have thought of any regional bands playing music in such style (or perhaps I just never bothered digging deeper), so imagine my surprise when I heard of Dulcinea‘s second album, In the Shadow of the Sun.

Dulcinea‘s style of music on In the Shadow of the Sun is soothing and melodic progressive rock, with many passages throughout the album that seem to focus on the emotional and atmospheric aspects of the music, and each instrument (even the vocals) are utilised fully to meet this objective. Opening track Silent Reign immediately gives the listener such an impression, with the slow build up and the sounds of wind blowing in the background. However, just as one expects an aggressive section to begin, the band breaks into a beautiful melodic section, complete with clean guitars and mesmerising, chiming notes. Vocalist Gerard’s style, while raspy, somehow manages to sound soothing at the same time, complementing the music at the background.

The band does incorporate some heavier elements in the album though, such as the slightly faster-paced moments towards the end of Silent Reign, and the heavy chugging riffs on Vertigo, but where such moments are present, the band later balances it out with softer and more melancholic sections. Guitar solos by axe-wielding duo Matthew and Paul reek of emotions and sincerity, and certainly make the album much more enjoyable as well. Harmonised solos such as those on Voice Inside also display the chemistry between the two guitarists. Bassist Jason also gets his time to shine, with tracks like Sacred Star having the bass track mixed prominently. Instrumental tracks like Saturn Return also add a nice touch to the overall feel of the album, allowing each individual instrument to really shine.

Various influences and references are also present throughout the album, such as the funk influence that could be spotted on Sacred Star, and the almost electronic and ethnic feel of Ghosts, making this album an interesting one to listen to at the same time. Of course, the progressive elements are still present, with the numerous shift in time signatures and odd time signatures that are present on the album, making this album a nice balance between technicality and melody. The production quality of the album is also slightly raw, and this enhances the enjoyment of the album, with the music coming across as more authentic, instead of the synthetic feel that over-produced albums tend to give off.

While the music present on the album is superb, there are certain aspects that could have potentially made the album better. Drummer Rashid at times sound restrained behind his kit, not being able to fully expand his energy and display his ability, and though this could be to fit the overall feel of the songs, at times it does sound slightly forced, causing the enjoyment of the album to be slightly affected.

That said though, In the Shadow of the Sun is definitely one album that is recommended to the metal fan who is looking for a break from the heaviness and monotony that many new albums bring, and to those who are looking for a calming and soothing musical journey.

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©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

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