Dynamic Lights - Shape
Progressive Rock
8 songs (54:49)
Release year: 2005
Dynamic Lights, DVSRecords
Reviewed by Al
Surprise of the month

It is highly likely that the majority of you who have taken the time to click on this review, after reading the genre classification have already made up your minds about progressive rock and metal. It is also highly likely that this decision classifies you into one of two camps. One side consists of those of you who find the genre consists of a delicate mixture of eclectic song writing, virtuoso musicianship and epic concepts. You see it as a genre which produces songs that often take a considerable period of time to worm their way into your psyche but provide far longer lasting musical enjoyment when they do, therefore you see this review as a great opportunity to discover a new band in a genre populated by many and ruled by few. The other side consists of those of you who find the genre consists of pointless fret board wankery, vocalists who sound like they’ve been recently castrated and songs which are too long for their own good. You find the whole exercise rather pointless and you are just reading this for your own morbid amusement, searching for ammunition to call me a pretentious knob jockey (or similar).

Whatever side you happen to fall on, I present to you Shape, the debut album from prog rock Italian five-piece Dynamic Lights. The band previously released an EP entitled Resurrection in 2002 but this is their first full length, released in late 2005. The band consists of one guitarist and a keyboardist in addition to the mandatory drummer, bassist and vocalist.

The thing that is immediately striking about the band's sound is the extremely profound and universal use of keyboards. Presented in a tone sounding very similar to classical piano and occasionally with a more synthesised or electronic feel, Giovanni Bedetti weaves a tapestry of complex arrangements and atmospheric soundscapes that lends the music a beautiful and at times dizzying quality. It is often the case that one musician in a band stands out due to their sheer talent and expertise with their instrument, but it is a rare thing indeed for this person to be the keyboardist. Rather then merely accentuating the band’s sound as many similar musicians in his place do, Bedetti defines it.

This keyboard mastery forms the backbone of most of the album, which consists of six ‘main’ songs and two shorter instrumental numbers. There is very little weakness to be found in the main body of the album, with each song bestowing unique aural delights upon the listener. Whether it be the wonderful interplay between vocalist Matteo Infante and guest vocalist Jamina Jansson on album opener In the Hands of a Siren or the epic eleven minute musical journey of One Thousand Nothing, the band never sound anything but confident and impressive.

However with such high praise there must also be criticism. There are two aspects of the band which I feel let them down and these are linked in a way. The first of these is the guitar work does not exhibit the same level of originality and expertise that the other instruments and vocals. The riffs seem to often have a rather basic feel to them at times and at other times seem to be conspicuous by their absence. There are quite a few instances where the keyboards and drums interplay but with no riff to back them up, creating an almost vacuous feel to the music. This leads me neatly on to my next criticism which is that at times the music seems to lack that bit of power or punch which would take it from impressive to brilliant. The whole thing at times can feel like the build up to an explosion that never happens.

This is a very promising debut and I’m sure the band will take a look at what was lacking and come back even stronger. I feel that if the band can raise the guitar work up a notch and provide that little extra ‘something’ that’s missing we could have a truly mouth watering prospect on our hands. Until then I’ll quietly enjoy this flawed gem.

Killing Songs :
Standouts are In the Hands of a Siren, One Thousand Nothing and Going to Nowhere
Al quoted 78 / 100
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