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Your Tomorrow Alone : Ordinary Lives

Your Tomorrow Alone's Melodic Metal favours accessibility over heaviness.

Remember the early 90s? Some of it's a little dated now, but there was plenty of good entertainment along the way - and right now I'm thinking of the movie Speed and the way they managed to wrangle some extremely contrived scenarios into the dialogue with a nifty little hookline: "Pop quiz, hotshot. There's bomb on a bus...". In this case, though, I'm thinking: "Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a real issue with music - nobody's wondering what would have happened if Paradise Lost had started channelling the spirit of Eloy. What do you do?".

Well, if you happen to be Italian band Your Tomorrow Alone, you courageously volunteer to devote your debut album to finding out. Perhaps not as glamorous a job as rescuing a busload of passengers from explosive oblivion, but surely nearly as essential a step forward in multimedia development. Or perhaps not: 'Ordinary Lives' has been out for just over a year now, without noticeably setting the world on fire - not even the somewhat rarefied parts of it showing a particular interest in Doom.

Not that, at first glance, you'd necessarily assume it was covered by that particular mantle. Tidily packaged by My Kingdom, the cover art is almost pure prog-rock material: an allegory in swirling green and purple, laden with symbols - birds, masks, trees, a faceless man - that wouldn't look out of place under a Pendragon logo. Still, it ties in tidily enough with the concept behind the band name - one of existential loneliness and secret solitude amidst a crowded normality - and it's not a million miles away from the sort of cover that Russian bands obsessed with autumn seem to prefer.

The band site acknowledges a clear influence from the Peaceville Three, but, rather more specifically, they seem to want to occupy a base musical position somewhere near the end of the Paradise Lost arc between 'Shades Of God' and 'Draconian Times'. Melodic Death/Doom that favours accessibility over heaviness, in other words, with variety added by the use of both clean and growled vocals and some late 70s Progressive influences thrown in...with varying degrees of success and seamlessness.

The sense of bombast is certainly there, and woven tightly - inseparably, even - into the fabric of the album. Everything seems a little bit crowded and overblown, busily levering in something for all six of the band to do, all of the time - even when it should, perhaps ease off the throttle and leave some breathing room, and that's even more noticeable on the tracks which include additional guest vocalists and musicians.

There are a few quieter moments, inevitably: these, with their symphonic keyboards, acoustic guitars and clean vocals are what really call the likes of Eloy to mind - the intro to 'The Essence Of Gloom' sounds as if could have been lifted wholesale from 1982's 'Time To Turn. They don't tend to last long, though, which ties in with that end of the Prog movement's love of technical convolution and constant melodic change. The difference here is that these tend to segue into Gothic growls instead of soaring power Metal moments. It's not an implausible sort of transition, just a little unusual in both the unexpected direction and the use of Beauty and the Beast vocals split between two males rather than male and female.

In fact, the more I listen to this, the less I think it really qualifies as any kind of Doom. There's certainly no shortage of debates to be found about when exactly Paradise Lost stopped being considered a legitimate Doom band: I suspect those would have been settled a lot earlier if they'd pulled in these sort of influences. Even under the quite broad expanses of the modern genre, melancholy lyrics and some growled vocals probably aren't enough, on their own, to swing it. Not that I'm particularly perturbed by genre boundaries myself, but in the interests of accuracy I'd probably just call this Gothic Metal and be done with it.

Be that as it may, on it's own merits, it's actually quite a cheerfully enthusiastic offering: much like the audio equivalent of one of those 90s blockbuster movies - lots of action designed to leave you too breathless to notice the slightly threadbare plot. And at the end of it, you may remember a couple of snappy one-liners and the bus jumping over the gap in the bridge with some affection, but you probably won't be digging it out to watch again on a regular basis. So it is with 'Ordinary Lives': entertaining enough, in a lightweight and dated sort of way, but I'm pretty sure it's answering a question that nobody's ever seriously asked.

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Reviewer's rating: 5/10


Tracklist :
1. Renaissance
2. Praise For Nothing
3. The Essence Of Gloom
4. Guilty
5. Bursting Hope
6. Far From The Sight
7. One Last Breath
8. Agony (Praeludium)
9. In Silence

Duration : Approx. 51 minutes

Visit the Your Tomorrow Alone bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-04-20 by Mike Liassides
Rotten Copper
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