Origin Of Species 2020
Somewhat disappointing deflation of a grandiose idea which chills rather than thrills.
If DarWin’s debut "Origin Of Species" was one of 2019’s most daring endeavors, with a dedicated website expanding the album’s context, its follow-up should raise doubts as to whether that work has the future beyond the futuristic concept, as “A Frozen War” has significantly shrunk the project’s world. While temporal aspect plays a certain role here, as the five pieces on “A Frozen War” last only for half an hour, the reason for such a collapse is more stylistic: the opening act of this prog opera didn’t saw frontiers in the genre’s perceived constraints, yet what transpired in its wake demonstrates a clear art-metal slant which will limit the music’s appeal. As a result, even the impeccable musicianship – driven by Simon Phillips’ fantastic drums – cannot make the riff-laden landscape riveting enough for the pop-minded title track, let alone less majestic cuts, to catch on.
There are arresting details in this sonic tapestry, like strum leading into opener “Nightmare Of My Dreams” and caressing its romanticism, but heavy choruses blow the ballad’s allure away and orchestral waves simply crash against aggressive voice and Guthrie Govan’s harmonies-splattered shredding before their assault is stripped down to acoustic and electric strings’ essentials and provided with a tune again. “Future History” fails to get a grip on a melody, though, and grooves into nothingness despite the determined attack courtesy of Billy Sheehan‘s bass and Greg Howe’s lyrical licks, whereas “Eternal Life” dissolves the polyphonic folksy intent in doom-and-gloom instrumental passages. Matt and Charlye Bissonette may submit most supple vocal performance on “Another Year” which closes the album in a rather Beatle-esque manner, yet the overall impression is one of the unfinished business.
Perhaps, slowing things down and delaying a release could help; as it is, the concept’s potential is wasted here.