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Andy Gillion – Neverafter

Andy Gillion
by Santiago Puyol at 08 December 2019, 3:05 PM

Guitarist and songwriter Andy Gillion, from Melodic Death Metal band MORS PRINCIPIUM EST released his debut album, "Neverafter," on Nov. 15. It is a collection of mostly instrumental tracks with Symphonic Metal and Progressive Metal influences, filled with technically impressive musicianship.

"Nocturne" functions as a creepy intro to the album, feeling a lot like a twisted child song before exploding into progressive guitar bits. It leads in perfectly into "Becoming the Nightmare," a track heavy on symphonic arrangements. Its songwriting is instilled with a sense of drama. It is reminiscent of the less out-there moments of "Colors"-era BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, sprinkled with a dash of NATIVE CONSTRUCT’s theatricality, especially on the heavy bits.

"Skyless," a mammoth seven-minute track that features some lovely piano playing, follows suit. It is a blast beat fest, courtesy of Samus Paulicelli, in chaotic juxtaposition with the melodic guitar work and orchestral arrangements. About two thirds into the track, a beautiful piano-led breakdown is accompanied by an excellent solo by guest Jeff Loomis.

With its high energy and technical complexity, "Becoming the Dream" has segments with textured, euphoric guitar work and bass. The exquisite usage of piano and synths provides a hypnotic atmosphere and a little vulnerability to the track. The mixing of this track is superbly done, one of the best on the album, letting the instruments play with the sense of moving through space.

"Aria" is a delightful orchestral interlude that comes as a surprise at the middle of the album. Guest Christina Marie lends her gorgeous voice to sing over a little melody that seems straight out of a realm of fantasy. It ends up being a seamless intro for the chug-filled and intense "Black Lotus."

Black Lotus” makes great use of its orchestral arrangements, especially a chorus and some brass instruments, adding colour to the music and providing counterpoint to the busy guitar melody. At moments, it feels that you are in the middle of an epic battle from a movie or a game. There is a little Brian May influence bleeding in through the shredding, with some QUEEN-esque songwriting bits.

The medieval and folky "The Lost Melody" comes next, bridging "Black Lotus" and "Shards of a Forgotten World" perfectly. It makes great use of heavy delayed guitar melody and lovely vocal harmonies. Meanwhile, "Shards" is groovy and shreddy. A warm, melodic bassline anchors the track and keeps things in motion. Its joyful final third gets into a celebratory mood, even when it never loses the melancholy lurking underneath.

CHON-like vibes appear on the laidback and relaxing "Hiraeth." In spite of the chill feel of the song, it features intricate and busy guitar work, being very melodic and very technical at the same time. A little bit of PINK FLOYD appears on the outstanding guitar solo by Paul Wardingham, before getting into complex shredding.

"Lullaby" is another scenic guitar interlude. It pays homage to its title, feeling a little bit like a lullaby with the guitar waltzing beautifully atop chirming bells and vocal harmonies.

"Neverafter" is the longest track, being eight and half minutes in length, leaving room to explore many ideas. Things start quite mysterious and defiant with a menacing chorus, playful piano and glockenspiel kisses. Suddenly it explodes into heavy guitar and clashing drums, all in under a minute. It is a busy song with shifting sections and groovy interludes with an outstanding interplay of the rhythm section. The last third goes into symphonic territory. What seems to be a reprise of "Nocturne" closes the album.

"Neverafter" is a strong debut record that makes the most of the quite long song format it uses because of the impeccable musicianship and intense orchestral arrangements. Not every songwriting idea sticks the landing and it does feel a bit samey at times, lacking memorability, but overall it is a fun and even emotional record at times.

"Aria" is the biggest surprise on the record and leaves the listener wanting for more vocal sections. It shows Gillion clearly has enough ideas to make songs like that work and does not need to be limited by the solely instrumental approach. Although the restraint on the album keeps it from going too hard on the orchestral side of things or feeling gimmicky, taking a few more risks would not hurt and could make it a more unpredictable and less calculated experience.

Overall, “Neverafter” is a promising debut that builds on the strengths of a talented musician and leaves you waiting for the next time.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Nocturne
2. Becoming the Nightmare
3. Skyless
4. Becoming the Dream
5. Aria
6. Black Lotus
7. The Lost Melody
8. Shards of a Forgotten World
9. Hiraeth
10. Lullaby
11. Neverafter
Andy Gillion – All instruments
Samus "66Samus" Paulicelli – Guest Drums
Jeff Loomis – Guitar solo on "Skyless"
Paul Wardingham – Guitar solo on "Hiraeth"
Christina Marie – Vocals on "Aria"
Record Label: Independent


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