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Darkwater - 'Where Stories End' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/3a/7d/5e/944_darkwaterwherestoriesend_1296346872.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 30, 2011    
 
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This is both a sonic and aural treat.

I rated 'Calling The Earth To Witness' - the band's previous release – as the best debut album across all genres covered by this magazine* in 2007. This was high praise indeed for the Swedish combo, so I was naturally anxious to discover whether 'Where Stories End' could maintain the quality of the debut.

It's a rather different beast when compared with its predecessor. To begin with nearly all of the tracks are shorter than anything on 'Calling…' and opening track 'Breathe' is the shortest song the band has written so far. It is an immediate yet quirky piece with a captivating underlying melody set against syncopated beats. Then we get the album's longest track, 'Why I Bleed' and this begins with a synthesised baroque feel before a complex, turbulent, polyrhythmic pattern emerges to carry the song forward. This is very reminiscent of latter day Symphony X, and focuses upon a second way in which this album varies from its predecessor: the greater range of influences that have been absorbed into the Darkwater sound. It also exemplifies the rather more stripped down, sophisticated and technical feel of many of the songs on this album, with far less gratuitous embellishment: although there are some exciting and incisive solos present.

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'Into The Cold' is a brooding, keyboard-led piece of technical progressive metal with repeated neo-classical infusions. And it is here that it will probably occur to you (as it has with me) just how high in the mix Tobias Enbert's drumming has been placed: another significant difference from 'Calling…'. 'A Fools Utopia' has more of those technically complex rhythms and these subjugate the melody line rather more than I would prefer. 'Queen Of The Night' is a lyrically ascerbic and musically demanding song while 'In The Blink Of An Eye' is perhaps the most complex rhythmically of all the songs on 'Stories' but also includes a very accessible chorus and underlying melody. 'Fields Of Sorrow' features another complex production but is majestic in execution, and is a compelling listen. 'Without A Sound' is, perhaps, the most accessible and least technical song and is my absolute favourite here, flowing wonderfully between verse and chorus and including some choice guitar and keyboard breaks and a really fantastic conclusion, but the darned thing fades!! Finally, there's the mini epic 'Walls Of Deception' wrapping 'Stories' up in glorious fashion: and another of my personal favourites.

This is both a sonic and aural treat and the Darkwater guys have produced a stunning addition to their recorded canon. As suggested, it is a much more technical and atmospheric work than 'Calling…' and consequently takes more perseverance to fully unlock its full potential and underlying nuances. However, I have no doubt that all keen adherents of quality technical progressive metal will lap this up, as it is one of the best albums of its type in 2010.

Paul Jerome Smith

(* Fireworks Magazine)

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