CD Reviews

Under Heaven - 'What Lies Between' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 11, 2013    
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An entertaining album.

Under Heaven is a female fronted gothic metal project that comes from Toronto. Composer Matthew Binks started the idea in 2006 and soon found its voice in Tammy Everett. Under Heaven independently released their debut 'What Lies Between' back in 2007 but now it has its world wide release through Ravenheart.

Although this is Gothic Metal at heart, Binks draws inspiration and injects a little something different into each song. 'Cryptic', 'Behind The Shadows' and 'Pandora' could all be described as gothic with deep grindings riffs but each has something that sets it apart. 'Cryptic' is full of eerie striking strings yet by contrast 'Shadows' features piano and a bouncier progression that feels less gloomy. 'Pandora' gives yet another twist by adding gothic chants and mixing the violins and piano together. There is also the band's fine gothic slant on Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy The Silence'. It isn't all gothic gloom, UH also adds a Celtic infusion on 'The Line' and 'Home'. 'The Line' opens with a groovy Celtic tune that subsides but returns for the chorus whilst 'Home' opts for Celtic pipes, bounding drums and very traditional vocals from Everett. This could have been the top track but there is one that really stands out. Some of our readers may well know a different version of 'Spanish Train' as it was originally recorded by Chris de Burgh. UH delivers their own take on this captivating story, which has an extended intro and more guts to the guitar in the chorus, but the rest remains pretty faithful to the original. Consequently, I think it stands up really well when directly compared to its predecessor.

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Although this isn't quite up to the outstanding mark set by several Symphonic/Gothic albums this year, it is still a solid release and as an album with considerable variety, contains tracks that can fire up or relax on an equal level. Binks has composed a record that subtly includes this wide range of influences and in Everett he has found a talented vocalist with the required diverse range able to deliver his vision. The production side is pretty polished and glossy, although I personally would like to have heard a bit more crispness in the guitar. If you're a big female fronted fan, this is an album that offers a slightly unconventional slant on the Gothic genre by way of the different influences. Any readers with just a passing interest in the genre should check out this band online and see how it compares for you personally in relation to the more established acts.

For me this was an entertaining album and I look forward to seeing what Under Heaven can concoct for their follow up.

Dave Scott

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Franco Cerchiari said:

Brooding, moody, chilling and thoroughly atmospheric, Under Heaven has released a good one here. As a long time fan of the Gothic, I found this to be quite a great album with strong vocals, music that paints a great picture as the lyrics complete the story line. The sound was clean, sharp and crisp. What made this an enjoyable listen is how many songs heard here kept me enthralled and being able to get lost in the musical landscape. This was especially true with the opening track 'Cryptic.' Listen as well to the controlled vocals of 'Under The Shadows' that never came on too strong which allows the listener to keep fixated with the musical score rather than concentrating on the vocals. Excellent as well was the soothing 'Home', the beautiful, soft 'Die A Little More', the evil sounding 'Pandora', and the creepy as hell 'Inner Sun.'

Imagine all that is good about the heavy orchestral music of Sounds Of Creation, the wonderful vocals of Violet Sun, and the bone chilling vibe of Alcest and you have an idea of the sounds and music of Under Heaven.

Evident by the strong musicianship, Under Heaven has released a great contender in the Gothic/Symphonic market. As a side note, Under Heaven recently released their follow up to 'What Lies Between', with 'Nocturnes For The Divine And The Damned.' A difference can be felt on 'Nocturnes....' as the music feels less gothic and more symphonic. Listen (loudly) to the heavy 'Let's Play', the string instruments and bagpipes of 'The Tale', the ominous piano of 'Sinergy,' the simply stunning CD highlight 'SpiritScape', the dark, skull crushing 'Day At The Races', and the lyrics of 'Realm' talking about the struggles, thoughts and dreams of a person trying to make sense of it all.

An all around strong release done by the two core members, composer Matthew Binks and vocalist Tammy Everett. Heard on both CDs is a wide range of styles from the classical to the operatic to the symphonic to the gothic to rock. Sad to say, but probably true, is that unless the label gets behind this band and really markets them heavily, this probably will slip by a lot of fans of the gothic and symphonic. But here's a hope that somehow people will hear of this band and make both of these CDs part of their collection.
November 27, 2013
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