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theawakening thisalchemy
Artist: The Awakening
Title: This Alchemy
Genre: Darkwave
Release Date: 28th May 2021
Label: Intervention Arts


Album Review

US-based, South African in origin, THE AWAKENING have been releasing albums and touring since the late-nineties. Essentially the guise of busy all-rounder Ashton Nyte, who assembles a band as and when needed, ‘This Alchemy’ comes on the back of a particularly productive spell for the artist, which has seen a new solo album, book of poetry and short stories, and a tour supporting Wayne Hussey (THE MISSION), all before the world shut down and we forgot that musicians are, in their own magical way, key-workers too.

There’s always something deeply satisfying about a bit of atmospheric foreplay on an album. Let’s have a proper introduction before getting stuck in - and ‘Bitter Bliss’ aims to do just that, spooky, expectant synths and whispered vocals setting a gothic template of dark romance and edgy pretentiousness, that tricky balance of theatrical zeal and knowing over-exuberance. Get it wrong and you have the majority of limp goth and darkwave, floundering like a fish that doesn’t even know when it’s out of the water. But one suspects, Mr Nyte knows what he’s doing here, at least some of the time.

‘Into The Machine (Part 1 and 2)’ initially bumbles by on a bed of 90’s synths and growly, grumbly vocals, but it’s actually much better than that, melodically astute and with clever quirks and eccentricities. ‘Zero Down’, released as a single, is stunted somewhat by the monotonous ever-so-slightly sarcastic singing, which at times drifts into bored LOU REED territory. You can imagine GARY NUMAN would have got this one all fired up, but sadly he’s off doing his own thing at the moment. ‘Shadow Call’ just manages to fall on the right side of the cliché line, darkly seductive and beckoning you in with a bony finger and the promise of a photoshoot. A piano gets itself all moody for the short but forgettable ‘Winter’s Unknown’ and then there’s a bit of pop bounce on ‘When The Fear Subsides’, a song which definitely has a jealous, wandering eye on the SHE WANTS REVENGE back-catalogue. ALPHAVILLE are re-visited on the cover of ‘A Victory Of Love’ which lacks the spark and chemistry of the original by quite some considerable margin. It just begs the question, why?

There’s a bit of bluesy strumming on ‘Take Me Home’ - Mr Hussey will definitely have warmed to this one, sounding every bit like the bastard child of ‘Bird Of Passage’ before it goes soaring off on its own wings. Finally, here, some vocal variation, much needed, proof that every song doesn’t need to sound like the dramatic reading of a shopping list. Gorgeous. ‘Empty Garden’ injects a blast of guitar into the dread and wonder, a real standout here, haunting and hovering and then swooping in and pecking at your eyes. ‘All Tomorrow’s Saints’ is melodic enough to get the black-clad throng swaying on the 2am dancefloor, but such a pity that final track ‘This Alchemy’ opts for a return to the dreary plod, as it’s neither memorable, nor the epic swoosh and sweep it definitely wants to be. More of a night-bus home, than an epic walk across a rain-soaked, neon-lit cityscape.

THE AWAKENING then, have much in common with THE MISSION. Both have vocalists who arse about far too much in the funereal, when their songs benefit most when the voice lets itself go. Both can wander into the worst clichés invented with a kind of wild-eyed “how did I get here?” innocence, and yet both can pull off some truly great melodies and create an air of majestic and hedonistic Romanticism. Ashton Nyte has great hair. There is that, too.


Tracklist

01. Bitter Bliss
02. Into The Machine (Part 1 and 2)
03. Zero Down
04. Shadow Call
05. Winter’s Unknown
06. When The Fear Subsides
07. A Victory Of Love
08. Take Me Home
09. Empty Garden
10. All Tomorrow’s Saints
11. This Alchemy


Line-up

Ashton Nyte


Website

https://theawakening.com / https://www.facebook.com/theawakeningofficial


Cover Picture

theawakening thisalchemy


Rating

Music: 7
Sound: 7
Total: 7 / 10




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