Review: Awaken “Out Of The Shadows” [Pure Steel Records]

Review: Awaken “Out Of The Shadows” [Pure Steel Records]

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This year the music records Pure Steel has re-issued the double album “Out Of The Shadows” from American progressive metal band Awaken, which they released by themselves in 2019. It is their second album in over a decade, offering the listeners more melodic and softer material.

Awaken was called Lazarus until 2009, which existed from the late 1980s, so that’s quite an experience, and now Awaken is formed from the professional American musicians, united by a common cause. They focus on progressive music, though their metal foundation is more familiar to heavy metal rules, but their progressive rock is on good terms with AOR. This kind of music is old-fashioned for 21st century, but the musicians are fascinated by the prog scene of past so honestly, that “Out Of The Shadows” sounds very sincere and comprehensible. And the overall ambiance is decorated also with a bigger dose of symphonic and epic elements, making this release even more solemn and diversified. But Awaken sounds a bit too soft; their music lacks the prowess and drive to win over with energizing power and crazy emotions.

Actually the technicality of prog isn’t too high; the progressive feeling is obtained by the typical for AOR and progressive rock sound of keyboards in the background and the classical piano sound in the forefront. Sometimes more complicated guitar riffs emerge during the album, as well as poised and polished guitar solos (like in “Moment Of Truth”). Generally the music is positive, even the saddest ballads (like “Dachau Be My Destiny”) convey the nice feelings, like the sweetest sorrow. Some songs are too lengthy and a bit boring, especially considering the fact that “Out Of The Shadows” is double album and doesn’t shine with experiments or unique musical tricks. But still there are some traces of delicious highlights, such as the oriental introduction in the song “Black From Blue” or the blues influence during the song “Only Your Eyes To Weep”. The last three songs, united by one common theme “Nine Circle Suite” sound more modern with a slight southern touch (like Black Label Society), but the voice of the singer Glenn DaGrossa (so similar to Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden) brings them even closer to heavy metal scene. Some songs are heavier than others, getting the best from power metal (“My Heart Of Darkness”), but “Nine Circles Suite, Part 2: The Dark Side Of Sorrow” is embellished with gentle flamenco elements. Acoustic, epic and atmospheric passages throughout this album make the progressive music livelier under a layer of subdued symphonic atmosphere, giving the listener 90 minutes of positively relaxing and intellectual music.

Since Awaken is a continuation of the band Lazarus, they took roots very deeply in the musical scene, and yes, they sound a bit old-fashioned, but they play this kind of music, which is joyous and vivacious, but at the same time serious and profound, without fake or shallowness. So “Out Of The Shadows” is a perfect release for nostalgic mood about the times, when the grass was greener, and the music was performed far more earnestly.

Release date: November 27th, 2020

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