Dreadful Shadows - The Cycle review


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Band: Dreadful Shadows
Album: The Cycle
Release date: 1999

01. Prelude
02. Futility
03. New Day
04. A Better God
05. Intransigence
06. Torn Being
07. Courageous
08. The Vortex
09. Awakening
10. Vagrants In Space
11. Calling The Sun
12. Exile
13. The Cycle
14. Twist In My Sombriety

The Dreadful Shadows decided to break up, even though they were a well-known band with no weak moments in the field of dark/gothic music. After albums such as "Enstrangement, "Buried Again" and the "Homeless EP", where they established their music sound, they released "Beyond the Maze" with which they simultaneously created with the suitable lyrical concept the ideal vampire/gothic rock/metal album. And so comes the year 1999 and the Shadows release "The Cycle". What can one say about this masterpiece?! The Dreadful ones surpass themselves compositionally and prefer to leave just when they are at their peak of profound artistic activity and experimentations; an irony of fate…? Maybe yes since on the back of the album's booklet is written "To be continued…"

As to 'The Cycle" everyone in the band contributes into composing a great album, worthy of being the swansong for such a wonderful band in the world of gothic music. Beyond the use of the violin, the viola and the cello that make the atmosphere more intense and vivid, the fantastic synthetic ability of the Shadows and the absolutely descriptive voice of Sven Friedrich that whether he screams, sings or recites sounds utterly expressive and passionate comes the participation of Gitane DeMone, well-known for her work with Rozz Williams (R.I.P.), Christian Death and her solo career with her voice painting beautifully the compositions of the Shadows. The lyrics for one more time are deeply esoteric and written in a beautiful poetic way harmonizing with the bleak soundscape of the compositions and Sven's utterly expressive voice bringing to life the lyrics in front of your very eyes…

And the album starts to play with "Prelude", the intro, which is based on electro sounds, whilst in the background one can hear the ecstatic screams of Gitane DeMone prefacing "Futility", a wonderful mid-tempo composition based on static guitar riffing with Sven singing and occasionally yelling "the end was always the futility of delight" while Gitane beautifully adds color to the grey soundscape with her expressive voice. One of the greatest compositions of "The Cycle", "New Day", continues the album in an appropriate way with inspired guitar riffing and melancholic guitar chords as the keyboards in the background simply evoke a devout bitter atmosphere harmonizing wonderfully with Sven's utterly descriptive interpretation and Gitane's astonishing backing vocals stigmatizing this piece. "Better God" that follows is a low-tempo composition with emotional outbursts with Sven and DeMone sounding ecstatic evoking a feeling of solitude in the air where there's just you and yourself.

The album flows with "Intransigence" and the only word that comes to mind while listening to this piece is "despair". Lyrics that breathe despair and no mood or chance of inner recovery surround you as the guitar chords accompany Sven's utterly emotional voice turn to heavy guitar riffing to escalate the song during the refrains. What can one say about the music, about the lyrics; they pace together as one evoking an ideal melancholic atmosphere making you feel various sad emotions embracing your soul. "Torn Being" follows, Sven simply recites and all else is silenced, pain is filling the room. Every word is made up of a picture, a picture of desolate grey. The piece tells the short story of a couple who loved each other a lot, but life, bitter life did not want it all to be a bed of roses. Together they decided to end it all, but even then it did not happen as they wanted it to. Life slowly seeps back to the protagonist's body that starts to realize what is happening. He sees his lover in tears. They aren't tears though, but only drops of rain on a muted face which doesn't even stir. He now realizes the bitter continuation of bitter reality. He tries to lie to himself but can't, the truth lies right there, in front of his eyes, "she's dead, he's alive, what an irony…" The Shadows pour their souls into evoking a suffocating atmosphere which gushes pain, despair and misery with the soft guitar chords and bitter synth-born melodies accompanying Sven and Gitane's descriptive voices.

"Courageous" lets the album flow in tranquil soundscapes with the violins painting the sound portrait with grey colors, the heavy guitars escalating at times the song whenever they enter and Sven showing for one more what a great interpreter he is leading to "The Vortex", a song in which the Shadows flirt with electro FX and distorted echoing guitar chords continuing the album in low-tempo rhythm. "Awakening" follows, an emotionally burdened piece in which the violins especially and the piano in succession play an important role harmonizing with Sven's voice and the guitar riffing reaching "Vagrants in Space". This piece has an electro beginning as well as sufficient electro elements during its whole duration; a song which paces with the whole atmosphere of the album. "The Cycle" flows with "Calling the Sun", a composition moving in calm soundscapes with the violin accompanying Sven's tranquil voice that turns to raging screams during the refrains pacing with the heavy guitar riffing.

"Exile" continues the album, a soulful testimony in which Sven displays in his interpretation how a charismatic artist he is as the piano literary kills; definitely one of the highlights of the album. "Sometimes I wish I had the choice, to end or to begin. Sometimes I wish I could live on my own…" What if we could go on our own for a while without thinking every day's problem, wouldn't it be better if we could live like this? Sadly, these moments are not many and it would be great if we could live every moment of them, every single moment of them. The title-track, "The Cycle", follows, a soft piece with acoustic guitars and keys which evoke a bittersweet at times distressful at others atmosphere as Sven's voice accompanied by Gitane's beautiful voice enchant the listener. Like a crowning of the artistic inspiration of the Dreadful Shadows comes the adaptation of Tanita Tikarams' "Twist in my Sobriety" which the Shadows perform as it was one of their own pieces. A marvelous cover, a really wonderful song that sounds so painfully melancholic and transfers you into another dimension full of sad emotions...

"The Cycle", sadly, is the end of Dreadful Shadows' circle, their melancholic swansong, and a remarkable release in the world of gothic music with heavy atmosphere, intense emotions and utterly inspired music ideas and compositions; a must-have for all the adorers of the gothic music if they respect themselves and the music they are listening to…

"…Look my eyes are just holograms, look your love has drawn red from my hands, from my hands you know you'll never be, more than twist in my sombriety…"


Written on 20.12.2004 by "It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of my mind."


Comments: 1   Visited by: 8 users
30.06.2006 - 15:05
Excellent review, although I don't agree with it.
Honestly, this band (and many other ones of the same genre) doesn't appeal me much, but this album is somewhat interesting thanks to the inclusion of some amazing effects in its songs (I like pretty much the female vocals, for example).
Not really a masterpiece (for me), but quite a nice album to listen to.

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