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Art Against Agony - Shiva Appreciation Society

Art Against Agony
Shiva Appreciation Society
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 28 November 2018, 6:42 AM

According to their webpage, ART AGAINST AGONY is “aesthetics applied to music, videography, photography, and performance arts.” It’s an international collective of musicians, and they describe their music as “forward thinking” on their Facebook page. We have twelve instrumental tracks here, based out of Germany. They wear masks, so this should be an interesting album. I don’t often find humor in music, so let’s get down to the music and listen for ourselves.

“Introduction” is a short piano opening number, with soft tones and a positive outlook, seguing into “Nothing to Declare,” which is a dissonant Djent number, with heavy rhythms and an air of mystery. While lead guitar bounces overtop, the rhythms shift to and fro, keeping your sense of timing on guard. “Nandi” is a bit longer and with a slightly more linear main riff. Its easy rhythms have an almost Middle-Eastern flair with the chord progressions, until the heavy accents come your way. As it carries on, it begins to get dark for a few bars, then goes back to that eerie Middle Eastern sound. “Katz” opens with soft and pensive clean guitars, welcoming piano into the fold. The percussion is fantastic here, with some variation along the way. It also picks up with the addition of several new instruments along the way, while keeping a loose central rhythm.

“Pumpkin Thief” opens with some accented percussion, and a plethora of cymbal crashes before clean guitar comes in. It takes a while to establish a cadence…it’s almost as if it is still exploring. The textures are amazing here, and there is always something new to discover. “Emissary” opens with piano notes and a declaration of something somber, as the left hand holds down a serious bottom line, while the right hand dances overtop with expertise.  Again, the timing of the movement is nothing short of stunning. “Feste” opens with clean guitar notes, in a teasing format. It progresses along the way, allowing some light into the picture, but will veiled somber tones. “Voerman” is an odd track. It’s only about a minute long, with a heavy Djenty guitar sound. “Lemon Tree” opens cautiously with some heavy accents in the guitars and a moody sound, using a lot of minor chords. It’s fairly heavy, and with some eerie lead guitars to solidify the mood.

“Hullulllulu Pt. 1” is an odd name for a song, and without a “part two” to boot. Funky bass lines open the piece, with heavy accents. Some nifty lead guitar work ensues, in a dark and depressing song. When piano comes in, it turns somewhat jovial, in an array of fantastic percussion. “House Built on Sand” opens with some light piano and percussion. It builds into a frenzy and then wanes a bit, with those soft piano notes filling the space. It builds a second time and then fades away. “Queen’s Lullaby” closes the album. It’s a quiet little piano number with unassuming tones.

Overall, I am not entirely sure what I think about the album. The musicianship is fantastic, that’s for sure. The skill in the writing is noteworthy, and the songs are performed with confidence. I suppose where I had the most difficulty was in finding the bigger picture, or a connection from track to track. I realized then that that was the point of the album, and the band. I’m also unsure where this might appeal, and who specifically to recommend it to. It has me at a slight loss for words so I’ll just leave it at that.

Songwriting : 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Introduction
2. Nothing to Declare!
3. Nandi
4. Katz
5. Pumpkin Thief
6. Emissary
7. Feste
8. Voerman
9. Lemon Tree
10. Hullulllulu Pt. 1
11. House Built on Sand
12. Queen’s Lullaby
The Sorcerer – Lead Guitar, Philosophy
The Machinist – Rhythm Guitar
The Surgeon - Piano
The Heretic – Bass
The Malkavian – Drums
The Maximalist – Mridangam
Record Label: SAOL Music


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