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Warning : Watching From A Distance

It is strange the situation that a listener focused on a doom metal record gets into. Naturally, doom metal music sets the ideal standards for the listener to dive deeper and deeper into each song on every new listening. It is the slow riffing, the clear melodic vocals, and in general the whole atmosphere of this music that makes every focused listening of a single song a unique experience.

UK’s doom metallers Warning has released their second full length, and I can clearly point out that I was, and still I am, in the situation described above when it gets to the music that is trapped in there. From the very first time I listened to the whole album at once (it lasts forty nine minutes and fifty four seconds in total), I realized that something very special is hidden on its five songs, but it was only after the forth or fifth listening – when I had reached out from the shock of the first wild enthusiasm just because I listened to such beautiful and quality songs, that I was started discovering the album and started diving slowly into its strange musical vortex.

Now a sort of a form of addiction has developed inside me. There is not even one single day without the hearing of the whole album – or at least three songs from it. I have many top albums inside my mind that really deserves it and I often return to their music. But with this one, the things are a little different as I think that it should remain one of my classics. Anyway, my personal – probably off topic thoughts - may not be the point here; I know that in a review what counts is a "to the point" description of an album’s music and that is exactly what I am going to do now.

The album's title song, 'Watching from a Distance' opens the record. The song starts slowly and mysteriously with its first minute and twenty one seconds to be based on a foggy and melodic main guitar theme. I personally point out this first one minute and twenty seconds of the record as one of its best musical moments. This gray and mysterious guitar melody introduces the listener smoothly into the album. Someone can also point out this theme as the introduction to the main 'Watching from a Distance' song, an introduction that is followed by another great melodic and emotional guitar theme (for almost a minute), a small bridge will follow based on a doomy riff and some melodies, and after a few seconds the main riff of the song fills the air. It is nothing more and nothing less than an ultra slow riff, heavy and simple, and this is the big shock in here because when you listen to the melodic vocal lines that fills this simple riff, you will be left speechless - especially if you are aware of Warning's past songs. I mean that the vocals were never the big deal of this band, with their songs to be mostly based on the atmosphere of the tombstone riffing and melodies (first two demos, 'The Strength to Dream' album era). But here is THE big change, because the listener is coming across the most emotional and mournful vocals ever imaginable based on brilliant and melodic voice lines. Patrick Walker's voice is a separate instrument with its own lead melodies ready to fill the foggy riffing and haunted sub-melodies of each song. When the voice comes into the foreground, it becomes the basic instrument that turns the songs to mournful hymns. This is a basic rule to all of the album's songs. A ceremonial riff follows after the song's first main riff + vocal part and soon after (after one minute and some seconds) the second main riff + vocal part begins. The epilogue of the song is once more based on sorrowful melodic themes (divided into three main parts) able to haunt the listener; it is slowly driving the song to a withering end before its very final moment. Twelve minutes and six seconds of total doom.

What follows next is the ultimate Warning song. In my opinion, 'Footprints' is the band’s top artistic moment. The song starts with a basic theme, and upon it for one more time, the vocals are making the big deal…after one minute and ten seconds from the song's beginning you will be able to hear Mr. Walker’s magnificent melodic vocal lines, so deep and mournful, especially when the main voice melody is changing together with the main guitar theme (I am mentioning the very specific moment after two minutes and thirty five seconds from the song’s beginning, well when I first heard this melodic change I was left for one more time... Speechless). It has been ages since the last time I heard someone singing with such passion and emotion (probably Robert Lowe’s way of singing on 'Scent of Death' from the Solitude Aeturnus 'Alone' album was a strong exception to this fact). Soon after, we can hear a melodic bridge based on a nice lead guitar theme (in the three minutes and forty one seconds point) that will drive us to the second part of the song. The second part is actually the song’s crescendo based on a heavy as hell and still mysterious riff, and marked one more time by the vocals. I will put it simply: this very specific part, this very specific crescendo is one of the strongest musical moments that I have ever heard. I really DO NOT know what to write and how to turn my feelings to words when I am hearing Pat singing THOSE lyrics, the WAY he sings them, with SUCH mourning and passion. You must LISTEN to understand... ("Here I am wide open, surrendering to your side; I have laid down my armor, I have no sword at my side. I leave behind me the ruins of the fortress I swore to defend; I leave behind me foundations; I'll leave you a man I'll need you to mend. And through all the battles around me I never believed I would fight. Yet here I stand, a broken soldier, Shivering, naked, in your winter light..." The lyrics speak for themselves). The song finishes with a misty riff, and the words are just not enough to describe my feelings...

'Bridges' is the only song of the record that will take the listener back to the older Warning days when their stuff had that death-like touch and it was based on monolithic, tombstone slow, and crawling riffs. Those elements characterize this whole song which has a touch form the past. Of course such elements are presented in the rest of the songs as well, but with serious emotional touches. This song is a slow, withering mourn, and it has probably the most simple structure and the least musical changes compared with any other song of the album. Right in the middle we can listen to a small but nice melodic changing on vocals and guitars that emphasizes and fits very well in the whole background. A mournful double guitar lead theme just after the middle of the song is what follows, just before the mournful vocals of Pat drives the listener slowly to the end of the song with another guitar lead theme – still mournful - to be the final dramatic epilogue.

The dramatic, narrative 'Faces' follows, it is surely one of the most emotional songs of this album. The melodic vocal lines and the sorrowful guitar themes are THE trademarks in here. Especially the song’s chorus (appears for first time two minutes and seventeen seconds after the beginning) is one of its strongest features. Listening again and again to Pat’s approach, especially into this song, I can for sure point out that the word "singing" is not the correct one that should be used in here simply because the way that he is spreading his melodic voice lines has a dramatic and theatrical approach from time to time... But do not panic, nothing fake in here, it is simply the soul that sings - not just the voice. Pay some special attention to the great theme that fills the song six minutes and twenty one seconds after its beginning, and for the next 57 seconds, just before the final crescendo, it is another beautiful gray guitar theme.

The album's epilogue belongs to the song 'Echoes', a piece of doom metal art that brings together the Warning's old spirit (ultra slow and monolithic riffing) and the emotional musical approach of the current release. Three minutes and fifty six seconds before the end of the song (and the whole album) belongs to another magnificent Warning crescendo enforced by the vocals (of course) and by another dramatic melodic guitar theme. The journey has come to an end... But the listener is ready to go for it again and again…

During my already too long review, I have not yet referenced the drums and the bass, or the rhythm section in a few words. First of all, I must point out that all the songs are ultra slow with not even a fast moment or a break. The drumming is very heavy and to the point, and the drumming parts fill the songs in a special way emphasizing from time to time specific guitar or vocal themes. Additionally, I must point out that it is one of the very few times during a doom metal record that I enjoyed the bass parts so well. You will need some extra listening of the album to start discovering the strange bass sub-melodies, but believe me, it is worth the try.

Another thing that I want to mention is that in this album we have no guitar solos at all, instead of them we have beautiful lead guitar themes that cannot be mentioned as solos in my opinion, because they are used as outstanding musical pieces, they are not simply emphasizing, as a typical guitar solo does, but they are used to complete every song. Without those lead melodies, the songs would be poor in my opinion.

The production is ideal for such a release - heavy and clear, every single instrument, every single musical note finds its space to be heard properly into the sound-universe of this album, and believe me the more elements that you discover on every new listening, the closer to the complete puzzle of this album you will get; and the good production is very important in this case.

In conclusion, Warning from Harlow, Essex, UK has managed to deliver an excellent doom metal record - a masterpiece. Mournful, gloomy, dark, and mysterious doom metal at its best, with the heaviness and emotion combined in a harmonic, deep, and unique result. This is one more record which proves that doom metal is nothing more and nothing else than fine art... My final advice: do not miss this album.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Watching from a Distance
2. Footprints
3. Bridges
4. Faces
5. Echoes

Duration : Approx. 50 minutes

Visit the Warning bandpage.

Reviewed on 05-11-2007 by Chris Papadakis
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