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Subsignal - La Muerta Award winner

La Muerta
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 18 May 2018, 7:09 AM

Originally intended as a side-project, SUBSIGNAL were founded back in 2007 by former SIEGES EVEN members Arno Menses (Vocals) and Markus Steffen (Guitars). To date, the band has released four studio albums, the latest a full-blown concept album at over 70 minutes in length. On May 25, 2018, they will release their fifth, titled “La Muerta,” which contains eleven new tracks.

“271 Days” is a short opening track, with brief spoken words in Spanish, leading into the title track “La Muerta.” It opens softly and with melodic lead guitar in legato style. The sound is an amalgam of AOR and Prog Rock, and what a beautiful combination this is. It’s really unlike anything that I have heard before. They drive home a wonderful chorus where the vocal harmonies are on full display. I feel alive and moved in a way that I haven’t felt for a while. “The Bells of Lyonesse” has an upbeat and jovial melody, and delivers another memorable chorus that will give you goosebumps and a permanent smile on your face that nothing could erase. “Every Able Hand” opens with a dazzling keyboard melody. It has a bit of a more suspenseful and pensive sound, straddling the line between dark and light, with a very Alex Lifeson-esque guitar solo.

“Teardrops will Dry in Source of Origin” is a brief acoustic guitar song. As the notes are gently plucked, they do indeed sound like tears dropping to the ground. It is absolutely gorgeous in the small amount of time that it occupies your attention. “The Approaches” reminds of the Progressive giants RUSH, in some of their more introspective work. Expertly crafted melodies trigger an array of emotions to the listener. At the very core of what music is and does as an art form, this is it. Breathtakingly beautiful, like a cool breeze on a warm summer day without a cloud in sight, it leaves a lasting impression long after it passes. “Even though the Stars Don’t Shine” has a funky little melody from the keyboards, and some subdued vocals at first that seem to come from within your consciousness, before the main riff hits. An easily enjoyable song, it tends to lift your worries and leave them behind.

“The Passage” is the long song in the album, and really gives the band a chance to showcase both their ability to bring a diverse mix of elements into a song. Critics of Progressive music often site the tendency to meander a bit in longer songs, with a focus on technical elements over melodic ones. That is not the case here. This song delivers an arena worthy performance with all of the expert craft of a band like TOTO.  Piano and keys are used liberally along with expressive vocals that don’t overpower the exalted melodies. “When all the Trains are Sleeping” opens with acoustic and clean electric guitars, leading to a smooth, mellow and thoughtful sound, giving you pause to reflect. “As Birds on Pinions Free” has a stellar AOR sound with a hefty, full richness that melts your cares away. The vocal harmonies shine brightly and its charms are irresistible…especially that tasty guitar solo. “Some Kind of Drowning” closes the album. Despondent piano notes and emotional vocals mark a real melancholy sadness. Guest female vocals create a duet of lost love.

Here at Metal Temple, we cover everything from Glam to Hard Rock, to AOR and the deepest and heaviest of Death Metal and Grindcore. Disclaimer: SUBSIGNAL’s “La Muerta” is not a Metal album. What it is, however, is an album that you never want to end and won’t soon forget. Substance. Actualization. Character. Class. Style. These are but a few words that I can share to somewhat adequately sum up this remarkable and extraordinary album. Expertly melding the shining elements of AOR with the artistry and finesse of Progressive music, it’s easily accessible enough to be played on mainstream radio, but would be wasted on an audience of mostly indiscerning listeners who would miss all the wonderful nuances and subtleties that it has to offer. In a veritable sea of bands in the world of Rock music today, SUBSIGNAL’s “La Muerta” stands head and shoulders above with integrity, constitution, and talent.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. 271 Days
2. La Muerta
3. The Bells of Lyonesse
4. Every Able Hand
5. Teardrops will Dry in Source of Origin
6. The Approaches
7. Even Though the Stars Don’t Shine
8. The Passage
9. When all the Trains are Sleeping
10. As Birds on Pinions Free
11. Some Kind of Drowning
Markus Steffen – Guitar
Arno Menses – Vocals
Ralf Schwager – Bass
Markus Maichel – Keyboards
Dirk Brand – Drums
Record Label: Gentle Art of Music


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Edited 22 August 2019

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