Progressive music, by its very nature, is a genre of excess. Whether we consider song length, musicianship, technicality or the like, prog inherently overflows with substance. Such is the case with the second full-length album from LA-based progressive metal band Lithium Dawn, Tearing Back the Veil Part I: Ascension. From the long-winded title to its hour-and-change running length, everything about this album is big. There’s a great album here, albeit one that is held back by the sheer amount of content on display.
Lithium Dawn plays a similar brand of groovy, djenty progressive metal that bands like TesseracT and Periphery have brought to the forefront of metal in recent years. Utilizing clean vocals throughout, singer and guitarist Ondrej Tvarozek croons with a voice that meshes well with the ebb and flow of the music. His vocal styles are, thankfully, unique enough to separate the band from the slew of other projects vying for attention in a genre that’s become quite overcrowded. Drummer Matt Benoit deserves special praise; his percussion perfectly sets the pace for both quiet lulls and triumphant swells.
There is such a sheer amount of music on display here, it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone, as far as fans of heavy music go. Behind the massive riffs, there are spacey synths that lend an ever-present atmosphere to the album. It goes a long way in fleshing out the band’s sound, as the entire affair sounds as though it’s taking place high in the stratosphere, perhaps in orbit around the earth.
Ascension is not without its flaws, however. The production on the album is of some concern, as when compared to other, perhaps “bigger” releases within the genre, it sounds somewhat flat and papery in comparison. While album production has become a hotly contested point of debate among armchair music fans in recent times, in this case it must be noted because it actually detracts from the whole experience. It’s frustrating when an album of this quality is marred by a less-than-stellar mix, because with a bit more punch behind it, it could be a real steamroller of a release.
There are some subtleties lost in the mix as well. Guitarists Plini and Sithu Aye both contribute amazing solos to the tracks “Point of no Return” and “Decimator,” respectively, but the nuances of their playing are lost within the muddiness of the mix. Also, the long runtime of the album means it makes for an exhausting listen, at least on the first few spins. Lithium Dawn could have condensed a few of these songs by a minute or two each and come out with a much more concise, direct album.
Tearing Back The Veil I: Ascension is a solid debut from a band of enormous talent. Although the production could be stronger and the album outstays its welcome a bit, if the listener allocates enough time to digest it, they will discover a real gem of a progressive metal debut. There is a pummeling, shimmering beauty here; one just needs to find the diamond in the rough.
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Lithium Dawn’s Tearing Back the Veil, Part I: Ascension gets…