CD Reviews

Under Heaven - 'Nocturnes For The Divine & The Damned' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 01, 2014    
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A hugely rewarding Symphonic musical experience.

About six months ago I reviewed Under Heaven's re-released debut 'What Lies Between' and found it an admirable and interesting record. If you missed it UH is an unusual Symphonic Metal project from Canada featuring only musical maestro Matthew Binks and vocalist Tammy Everett. They are difficult to pigeonhole genre wise as they incorporate an awful lot into their music.

This second effort 'Nocturnes For The Divine And The Damned', like its predecessor, is a mash of many different inspirations such as Celtic, Gothic and Classical. In fact 'Nocturnes' has so many different things to talk about that it'd be easier to bullet point each song and list its contents...but I'll try to squeeze everything in here. The album opens with 'Let's Play' which failed to resonate at first because it's so chaotic and maniacal with lots of shrieks and wails but as time passed it has really grown on me.

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From the first listen I was far more enthused about the exceedingly Symphonic 'Inner Demons', the catchy 'Don't Hold Back', the Celtic jig-like 'O'Sweet Claire' and the crunching riffs of 'Sinergy' and 'Indigo'. Another song worth mentioning is the album's only instrumental 'Nocturne In A Flat' that's a six and half minute piano showpiece for Binks. It's also one of the album's mellower offerings as is the Celtic ballad 'The Realm' and the rather peaceful closer 'Spiritscape' which features soft strummed guitar notes, a harp and Everett's beautiful, almost choralian, vocals.

This is a majestic album but it could have been amazing had the production been better. Musically it's an utter delight; as a composer and the musician playing it all, Binks, is a bit of a master. I also maintain that Everett is an equally talented vocalist with an exceedingly varied range. Together they should be a luxurious Symphonic dream but there was something not quite right and after much deliberation I have concluded it is on the technical front. The music is audibly exquisite but the vocal recording doesn't sound as good a quality as that of instrumental side. It's tough to explain in this short space; this is probably one time where you need to hear it to understand. This may bother those that demand absolute perfection but for those that can live with little imperfections 'Nocturnes' is still a hugely rewarding Symphonic musical experience.

Dave Scott

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Franco Cerchiari said:

I too gave my comments for this band's first release, 'What Lies Between',which was a great CD in it's own right.

It was Under Heaven's first release, 'What Lies Between' that made me a fan. From the opening bars of 'Cryptic' with it's ominous strings, it's eerie special effects, the chugging guitars and the voices of Tammy Everett, and the gorgeous piano of the following track 'Behind The Shadows' that I knew I would have to have the follow up to that CD, which brings us to the CD being talked about here. The opening track with its many tempo, vibe, feel and volume changes left me in a metal daze, the violins of the symphonic 'Inner Demons', the heavy 'Don't Hold Back', the staccato strings mixed nicely with the ambient cellos and angelic vocals of 'The Tale', the pure metal of the galloping 'Day At The Races', (wait till one hears the vocals...) the beautiful piano of the instrumental 'Nocturne In A Flat', and the plucking of the violin strings of the closing track, the sentimental sounding SpiritScape' were all strong.

I compared 'What Lies Between' to the sounds of Alcest, Sounds of Creation and Violet Sun, but here the band has gone a step further mixing the special effects and orchestration of Michele Luppi's excellent side project 'Heaven', the pianos and feel of Stream Of Passion and the various moods of Queen, 'Nocturnes For The Divine And The Damned' comes across as raucous, soft, heavy, symphonic and heavily influenced by the classical masters. Impressive for the fact that the band members took so many influences and styles and seemed to jam pack it all into one release, but note has to be made for the songwriting talents and musicianship.

A good release overall, and one that fans of the symphonic and classical need to hear.
April 06, 2014
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