December 2, 2020

Awaken is a New York based progressive metal band that was formed in 2009 by the vocalist Glenn DaGrossa (ex-Lazarus) with the self-titled debut coming out in 2012. One of the very many excellent benefits of the internet is that the world is now much smaller which makes it easier for unknown bands to make a global impact or at least ensure that their music is available to a wider market.

Out Of The Shadows was originally released in 2019 but it seems that the band has recently signed to Pure Steel records and they have gone ahead with this re-issue which is really aimed at introducing this quite splendid prog metal delight to a much wider audience. I wasn’t previously aware of the debut album but a quick listen has confirmed much of what I had learned from Out Of The Shadows which is that this is a band brimming with quality, talent and amazing songs and is one hell of a progressive metal rock band. I’m not sure what has happened between 2012 and 2019 other than there appears to have been a radical change within the band with the solitary remaining member being the singer Glenn DaGrossa. He has now joined forces with Eric Wirsing on guitar, Eddie Jucius on bass, Andrew Colyer on keyboards and Mike Marrone on drums and have now produced 90 minutes of pure and exhilarating progressive metal spread over 2 discs.

This next statement may not necessarily be true and apologies if it isn’t but it does appear that guitarist Wirsing joined the band after completion of the album and Eric Gillette was the guest guitarist for the album, it’s a little difficult to be exact when you do not have an album cover to check but only a few bare facts accompanying the album. This is very much an American prog album and, curiously, the CD is being advertised as an album independent of the genre and so comparisons with Fates Warning, Dream Theater and Symphony X are forbidden but it is simply impossible to mention prog metal from the United States without mentioning those three bands or Queensryche for that matter. In truth, there are some comparisons with early Dream Theater and even early Rush but Fates Warning is the closest comparison to this band that I can make and if you’re mentioned as being close to these great bands then you must be doing something right! The band also incorporates elements of symphonic rock into the sound and is very adept at lush, gorgeous orchestrations. The lyrics are of a story telling variety covering a range of interesting and diverse topics; this is not a band that writes songs about riding motorbikes down the American highways! The guitar and keyboards share centre stage and Andrew Colyer is wonderful whether adding texture to the sound or leading with epic banks of keyboards and his use of solo piano is devastating. Whether the guitar is from Gillette or Wirsing is really immaterial as it is simply stunning and whether it is crashing riffs or thrilling solos you will be blown away by the sheer dexterity. DaGrossa has a clear, emotional and direct voice with a great sustain and this is his band and he is in control but he is a true leader and will surely lead the band to greatness. I’m not sure who writes the lyrics but I am guessing that they are by DaGrossa and each tells a different story be it historical or fictional.

The tracks are long and engrossing and there are a couple of extended songs that show the strength of the material that the band has written and the epic and wondrous 20 minute long three part Nine Circles closes the album magnificently and shows this is a band that has the potential to be as big as the groups they have asked not to be compared with. There is just one cover on the album and it is most surprising being Ride Like The Wind, the Chris Cross power ballad, but it is given the Awaken treatment and sits comfortably alongside the rest of the material and the heavier mix shows a totally new and exciting side to the song.

If you like progressive or symphonic metal then you are going to love Awaken as Out Of The Shadows is another in an ever growing list of must have albums. Put it on your Christmas list and Santa may be kind to you or he may even keep it himself, it’s that good!

Out Of The Shadows track list

CD 1

  1. Black From Blue (7:43)
  2. Moment Of Truth (5:35)
  3. Ride Like The Wind (4:18)
  4. Drowning Pool (6:32)
  5. My Heart Of Darkness (4:38)
  6. Dachau Be My Destiny (13:34)

CD 2

  1. Out Of The Shadows (7:44)
  2. Only Your Eyes To Weep (6:53)
  3. The Spider Dream (5:28)
  4. Twist Of Fate (6:50)
  5. Nine Circles Part 1: Through The Gates (5:21)
  6. Nine Circles Part 2: The Dark Side Of Sorrow (6:42)
  7. Nine Circles Part 3: City Of Dis (8:40)
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