House Of Sand is a dark and often solemn portrayal of the human psyche transcribed through a triumphant collection of tracks that come together impeccably into one musical montage
As a music reviewer there are times when you fear falling short on expressing either the beauty or the brains behind an album. Some albums are special, for one reason or another, whether it be the emotion it bestows upon the listener, or the creativity and technical ability that bends the mind. Dawnwalker’s latest album House Of Sand is one of those artistic creations that ambushed me and captured my imagination instantly. Not because of its pioneering and hi-tech gadgetry, which has definitely helped revolutionise song writing over the last 20 years, but because of it’s "back to basics" concept of bringing together a collective of musicians wielding guitars, piano and violins with the backing of crooners and balladeers! House Of Sand is a dark and often solemn portrayal of the human psyche transcribed through a triumphant collection of tracks that come together impeccably into one musical montage.
R.I.P wastes no time in making an impression with its instant hit of delicious prog rock, caressed with clean, melodic vocals and a hook that soars through the sombre atmosphere. The growling death vocals towards the end of the track gives an indication of the dark emotive tension that weighs heavy on this album. Demon Of Noontide is built with the same structure as the opening track, deeply melancholic and harbouring plenty of hurt and pain, but somehow managing to contain it amidst the dimly lit recesses.
The Witness anchors itself off a brilliantly clever narrative, that speaks with emotion and sentiment, an interlude if you will, before flowing seamlessly into False Doors, a track that cleverly harnesses the emotion found in harmonised vocals. The music is timid and becomes the backdrop to the vocals, something akin to what Baroness did brilliantly on Little Things from the Yellow & Green album and even on Cocanium in the closing stages of this track. Slow brooding riffs and soaring vocals see out the track before closing on another sampled narrative that’s simple in delivery but black in wit.
The cries of a violin make their first appearance on the cold and muted acoustic intro of_ Egypt_. As this track wakes up however, a fierce, almost black-metal riff chugs and thunders through a deep-set bassline with more angelic vocals. There is so much happening on this album, so many influences and characteristics sweeping right through every track, that there are times when your head wants to explode with all these little nuances and variations that transport you through a musical discography of great music. Even the title track House Of Sand for example, is something very different, and very unique, yet you feel like you heard it before!!! Well, you did, by the Rock and Roll Legend himself Elvis! 60’s 70’s, 80’s, it’s all in here, and it’s bloody brilliant!
The spoken passage of The Prisoner along with its theatrical crescendo brings Pink Floyd into Dawnwalkers world, before quickly alternating once more into the beautifully smooth and stony contrasts of Prog-Rock and Soft-Rock. 40-Watt Sun, Anathema, Opeth all grace this track and make this musical journey thoroughly enjoyable.
One of the heaviest and dominant tracks on the album Coming Forth By Day is simply colossal. Right from the dramatic and grandiose guitars to the shredded tremolo chords and punishing drums, magnificent vocals battle with vicious screams in a dog fight between good and evil. A solitary bass guitar breaks the track momentarily before getting consumed once more in a blizzard of deathly squalls. I absolutely love this track!
Standing Stones piano laden intro along with heart-breaking violins and choral vocals raise every hair on the back of your neck, such is the emotion and pain found buried deep in the track. This progressive and melancholic style of rock always appeals to me and resonates with me every time I hear this kind of track. House Of Sand II - “Pillar of salt blows in the wind, Houses of sand, slowly crumbling” echoes and resounds into a Post-Rock crescendo that is both beautiful and forlorn, accentuated by some glorious vocal acrobatics that spiral and blow between these aforementioned pillars.
The final piece of music Mildew closes the curtain on an album that is in truth, a story. The music reflects the artwork of Mitchell Nolte’s cover painting, which is a backdrop of idyllic suburbs and the darkness that may be lurking beneath. The underbelly of House Of Sand is quite gloomy and downbeat, but the craft involved in making that happen through glorious passages of music is a gift in songwriting and creativity. Dawnwalker have written an album that spans genres, decades, and emotions. It is an album that will be held in very high regard across various musical circles for a long time to come. Sublime.