Grave Human Genuine
posted on 5/2008 By:
According to the Prophecy Productions website, the meaning behind the Grave Human Genuine title is as follows:
“This unconventional title was chosen with care and purpose, as it represents the three characteristic elements of this work: ‘Grave’ signifies darkness, the sinister force, and the inevitable fate. ‘Human’ is synonymous with the music’s inherent soul-depth, while ‘Genuine’ means ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ and hence refers to Dark Suns’ uncompromising approach to music.”
Honestly, I would have preferred if the band/label had spared the pretensions and called it a Dimmu Borgir joke, but such are prog metal bands. This is Dark Suns’ third album, and the band evidently features Kristoffer Gildenlow from Pain of Salvation on session bass, which might give an idea of what to expect here. These guys play ornate, long-winded prog songs laden with polyrhythms, symphonic arrangements, backing vocals, and more riffs per song than you can shake a stick at. Think Porcupine Tree and the aforementioned Pain of Salvation (insert description of both bands engaging in behavior that theoretically suggests something about Dark Suns’ use of their influences). Or, if you prefer, just think Porcupine Tree and Pain of Salvation. Like most bands of this type, Dark Suns have more than enough instrumental gumption. Again like most bands of this type, Dark Suns don’t know when to put the lid on a track. Though scaled back from its 75-minute predecessor Existence, Grave Human Genuine is bright in spots but plagued by excess and self-indulgence.
See, there’s something I don’t understand about the whole ‘prog rock/metal/whatever’ thing. ‘Prog’ implies progressive, so you’d think bands intending to help all things musical progress would aim to develop new musical approaches. In practice, this seems to translate into writing very long, abstruse songs with loads of complexity but little sense. Take “Thornchild,” for example. There’s about a three minute span about halfway through the track that would serve as a great hard rock tune, but instead of banging it out like it ought to have been, they trick it out with interminable bridges, pre-choruses, electronic interludes, and a Broadway-musical opening vocal melody. This approach isn’t necessarily a recipe for failure—look at the King Crimsons and Opeths of the world—but Dark Suns simply can’t keep their lengthy songs cohesive and interesting. Tragically, their shorter tracks (opener “Stampede, “Amphibian Halo”) are really quite good; if they just broke the damn album up into smaller chunks it could’ve been twice the album it is.
Look, I’m a fan of ‘prog’ music whether or not its progressive appellate is accurate. Even so, it takes more than excellent musicianship, a pristine production, and a guest spot from the Disillusion singer (and Dark Suns have all three) to excel at this shit, and these dudes just aren’t up to it yet. Fellas: discipline your songwriting and you’ll go far, but until then your fanbase will be Berklee grads with pocket protectors full of picks and tuners and few else.
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