Is it fall yet? No, not quite. We are about to reach summertime. When the weather is nice, y’know, that kind of thing. Yet, when I leafed through the review pipe I found a dark, melancholy type of album. Not made for happy, sunny, and airy times. And it is from last year to boot. One that patiently sat in the RMR review pipe for an extremely long time.
So, why the wait? You see, the time just needs to be right for this kind of music. If you are in the mood for trve metal, then a review of such a genre will only end in disaster. And this record – for sure – is nowhere near any metal. The band crafted a tune clad in the earthy colors of a rainy day in the mountains instead. When the snow finally approaches but is not quite there yet. Just the mist shows in the morning above the treetops and a promise of colder weather in the air awaits discovery.
Catering to this spirit, Close to the Shade from the Italian band For My Demons delivers a somewhat subdued blurb of reflections. Gabriele Palmieri founded the band after his departure from Neverdream to continue his musical journey. And ended up with a pretty melancholic piece of Gothic Rock with a dark and – sometimes – alternative undertone. Clearly, the record sports some airs of End of Green and exudes vapors of Anathema and the likes. Close to the Shade wears the melancholy theme like a cloak. The same way We Are The Fallen did so well when the band members fell from Amy Lee’s grace and got expelled from Evanescence.
And at first Close to the Shade did not convince. I kid you not. The electronic shenanigans on title track #1 Close to the Shade surely ended up on the wrong side of things. Because this review crew dislikes Amaranthe-esque terrors like Lucifer hates holy water. So, if we get served with a seeming mix of the former and some sort of ill-fated slow-motion Kamelot sound at the beginning of a track, then attention spans wane.
Yet in truth, the aforementioned title offering already starts to improve about one-quarter down the road and surely takes off, once the solo gets going. This jacks up quality and ends as one of the most remarkable tracks on the album. That said, remedy arrives swiftly once you walk down the track list with a number of pretty good songs.
Yet not all is great on Close to the Shade. Whilst no effort is needed to discern (most of) the instruments, the whole friggin’ record has a certain flatness to it. The solos are never really crisp, the vocals hate to soar. And the instruments – well – are so level they risk sinking into the ground. A fine red line exists between the music for the masses and a sound that will jolt you out of your chair. The record is a bit like a video you watch and the director seemingly forgot that there’s different types of lighting to be had. Get my drift?
But apart from this, Close to the Shade pretty much gorges with good material. The electronic undercurrents pretty much out the door after the first track, you’ll find quite a varied medley of elements. All that delivered in the typical mid-tempo fashion of this record. Acoustic guitars dominate on Reborn and cohabit with a halfway unplugged musical performance. Scars shines with this pretty cool solo. Or take the excellent When Death Hunts with its savvy arrangement built on a pretty decent song structure.
And all this musical flow embeds nicely into staunchly constructed lyrics. At times self-reflective or touching upon world events like on Burning Rain, the words clearly form a critically important part of Close to the Shade.
So, where will this land us? Close to the Shade doles out melancholy in a way that stops just short of doom. The folks from For My Demons provide an expertly set range of tracks. And those are quite outside of the usual norm lecturing us how rock ought to sound. Is the record so far out of the mainstream that it qualifies as alternative? Perhaps so, perhaps not. But its penchant for Gothic Rock makes Close to the Shade stand out in the decidedly limited crowd of this kind of record.
This is a good record, you should get some.