you were always looking ahead
and somewhere in that space in between
there was no room left for a dream"
One Word Review: Thoughtful
I used to spend a lot of time listening intently to progressive metal, enjoying time spent on discovering the minute detail and extraordinary melodies hidden in the layers of an album. Those revelatory moments where, on the twentieth listen, I went "Wow, I never noticed this before", fueled my taste for this kind of music, and made it a personal favorite in the great sea of metal genres.
Today, I have less focused time to listen to music, so I have somewhat lost touch with the genre. Which makes it an incredibly satisfying experience, to reunite with both the genre, and some of my favorite musicians, through Subsignal.
Subsignal is a descendant of Sieges Even, one of my favorite progressive metal bands two decades back. After Sieges Even ended, guitarist Markus Steffen and singer Arno Menses carried on the legacy in Subsignal. I only discovered the band with La Muerta, which is in fact their fifth studio album, so I have some catching up to do.
Having discovered La Muerta on Tidal, I immediately ordered their entire catalogue on vinyl from their website. So far, La Muerta has kept my attention completely, and I have yet to listen to the rest of the albums.
The album is a unique blend of progressive rock and metal with acoustic flavorings and a deep atmosphere, held together by beautiful melodies and wonderful, silky smooth vocals.
The Sieges Even feeling I remember from their last two albums, is evident here. The deep melancholic atmosphere, the thoughtful lyrics and technical, yet relaxed music, showcase some extremely melodic songs. Every single one of these songs offers something special and together, they flow together in a swirling stream of beautiful harmony.
A technical instrumental intro (I found it perfect for testing record players, when I was shopping for a new one) leads into the title track, which pretty much encapsulates the entire album. Arno Menses voice is at once enchanting and haunting, while the instruments back him up in a sublime way and deliver vast, intricate melodies.
Markus Maichel's keyboard playing often flourishes, and adds both charm and atmosphere to the music. Every Able Hand is just one of many examples of its importance.
In the same song, Markus Steffen delivers a note perfect guitar solo, which heightens the intensity just to the right point for Mr. Menses to take over, and lead the song home.
Delivering the necessary tight backdrop for the music, Ralf Schwager on bass and Dirk Brand on drums work together really well. Schwager's bass often shines, and is fortunately easy to pick out in the clear and powerful production. Dirk Brand shines often too. Take for example his cymbal work in the beginning of The Approaches and how he manages to keep the song flowing. Every single musician here is on edge and delivers something special. In unity, the music they create just works so well, and delivers several chilling moments through the album.
Even though stars don't shine is wonderfully melodic and has a great drive. This special drive is helped by Ralf's bass work, as he edges the music on, and the background harmonies in the verse sections.
The Passage is one of those chilling songs, where everything comes together. Reading the lyrics, I was reminded of "These Empty Places" from the Sieges Even Album "A Sense Of Change" and I found it interesting to see the song as a kind of progression and realization, a shared kinship of sorts. I find it interesting to hear how Markus Steffen has progressed as a writer, handling similar themes over the course of two decades.
Some Kind of Drowning ends the album on the most poignant note possible. This song is one big, chilling, wow-moment to me. It is one of the most beautiful, touching songs I have heard in a long time, and it sums up the essence of the album. It just makes so much sense to me and underlines why this album is a small gem.
The lyrics throughout the album comment on life in general, relationships, earth and the way we live, making the most of each moment and each day, and this final song embraces all this and squeezes so hard it leaves me completely drained, but strangely fulfilled.
La Muerta is simply a wonderful album in every way. It has everything that attracts me to music, as both an art form and pure entertainment. The lyrics leave food for thought, the music is infectious and impressively performed, and the mood is unique, as if the album encompasses emotions that cannot quite be summed up in words, but can be felt deeply. I am thankful that I discovered Subsignal. Now, onto their other albums...
Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, September 12, 2019