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My Silent Wake : Empyrean Rose (Split with Plon)


On this split, My Silent Wake and Plon both offer a varied array of doomy seductions.



England's My Silent Wake and Switzerland's Plon are two of the more enduringly interesting and individual bands amongst the many millennial Doom acts who, for whatever reason, seldom seem to garner quite the interest or influential status they arguably deserve. Still, both acts continue to refine their particular sound, whilst steadily mounting up sizeable back catalogues of releases that range from the eclectic to the essential.

Given that MSW are primarily Gothic Death/Doomsters incorporating rich seams of acoustic, folk, medieval and progressive elements and Plon are basically Traditional (Christian) Doom, they might seem like odd choices to share space on a split album. Which are, of course, notorious for mixed quality and conception - arising from anywhere between arbitrary label decisions to fully-cooperative, planned ventures. 'Empyrean Rose' is closer to the latter, however: Ian Arkley of MSW contributed guitars on Plon's latest full-length 'The Harrowing Of Hell', and he told me that when the bands subsequently met up at an MSW gig in Switzerland a year ago, they came up with the idea of this joint release.

The strictly-limited 500-copy digipack version clocks in at just over an hour, evenly split between the two bands, packaged with some evocative artwork and basic information: not especially lavish, but good enough value for the reasonable asking price. More importantly, it's a crisp and clear production that allows the music all the dynamic space it needs to shine.

MSW get the first half of the venture, and have elected to fill it with new material, showcasing two long tracks linked by instrumental pieces which demonstrate the mellower, classically-medieval side of the band and a final, ambient, track ('Welcome To The Village') which sounds a little too experimental and different to fit in with the rest. There is plenty of compensation for that, though, in the bulk of the work: the stabbing, pulsating Peaceville-esque Death/Doom of eight-minute 'Tearing Worlds Apart' and the thirteen-minute centrepiece 'NDE Part 2'. This takes the acoustic motif of the older, original instrumental 'NDE' and expands it into a lush soundscape that pulls in all sorts of cues from '70s prog-rock - including some excellent use of flute - as it gallops along with a drum- and riff-heavy loping groove. In all, it's typically MSW: thoughtful, intelligent, varied and with a consistent lyrical depth and intensity born of long experience.

Plon offer a more mixed selection: an unreleased track ('By Loving Forces'), several remixes or re-recordings and a new cover of Candlemass' 'Droid' (from the inexplicably-overlooked Flodkvist-vocal era of 'From The 13th Sun'). Mixing it up a bit, guest Jordan Cutajar takes a healthy lead vocal on the rollicking 'Doomstone 2013', while ex-drummer Tinu Christen contributes a rather more acquired-taste vocal to the remix of 'Falling Into The Sun'. 'Acquired taste' is probably the best description for regular and main vocalist Matt Brand too: his voice being a distinctively-inflected and projected clean style that has more Epic than pure Doom feel. Musically, the band draws on a legacy that includes the almost-inevitable Black Sabbath, St. Vitus, Trouble and - obviously - Candlemass: the tracks here steering more towards the latter two with a balance between slow, heavy sections and more energetic Metal outbursts. They don't quite attain the consistency of atmosphere normally prevalent in Plon's albums, where the greatest strengths are the conviction of their execution, and the core beliefs informing their Christian lyrics: those being well-crafted enough to appreciate without having to share the faith. These tracks have the same individual craftsmanship and compositional fluency, but without the same common thread: nonetheless, 'Golden Voice' is a good example of the moodier, darker side of their canon.

Whether this release is aimed primarily at putting some rare material in the hands of existing fans, or in exposing both acts to a potentially wider audience, I couldn't honestly say. It could be either: while, as you might expect, it doesn't represent the greatest achievements of either band compared to their full-length releases (although 'NDE Part 2' and the reworked 'Doomstone', particularly, are stand-out) it does give a pretty reasonable spread of what both are capable of. Recommended, then, as a sampler if you're unfortunate enough never to have come across either band and a collector's item if you're already into both. If you fall somewhere between the two, you'd probably be better off looking out the regular albums first.

Reviewer's rating: 8/10

Information

Tracklist :
My Silent Wake
1. Tower Walk
2. Tearing Worlds Apart
3. Mirrored
4. NDE Part 2
5. Welcome To The Village

Plon
6. Doomstone 2013
7. Droid
8. Falling Into The Sun
9. By Loving Forces
10. Golden Voice
11. Post Tenebras Lux

Visit the Plon bandpage.

Duration : Approx. 62 minutes

Visit the My Silent Wake bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-12-16 by Mike Liassides
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