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Dying Passion - Sweet Disillusions

Dying Passion -  CD Review
Sweet Disillusions

CD Info
Label: Metal Breath
10 Tracks
Language: English

Dying Passion is not a band that I found immediately likeable. In fact, the first time I heard their Voyage album I basically hated it, and even considered getting rid of it. Looking back now, I wonder what the hell I was thinking. This is a perfect example of why music should be given some time to sink in before it is given final judgment. It took scattered listenings over a couple of months before Voyage started to grow on me. But eventually I became enamored with this band’s unique flavor of gothic metal which is somewhat different from other bands in a hard-to-describe way. Perhaps it‘s a certain regional ethnicity (the band is from the Czech Republic). It could also have something to do with the sultry voice of Zuzanna Lipova, who has a style very different from all the soprano divas of European metal. But for whatever reason, Dying Passion worked their way into my affections with their particular brand of metal.

So I had mixed feelings upon first hearing Sweet Disillusions, as it is something of a departure from earlier work This album leaves behind most of the “gothic” and much of the “metal” and instead offers something much harder to get a descriptive lock on. The band has dropped their violin and flute, which were used so effectively on previous albums, and traded them in for a horn section. The clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone predominate here, along with heavy use of piano and a smattering of organ (or synthesized organ). The guitar has a more limited role here, although there are a few songs in a hard rock/metal vein. There’s still enough residue of heaviness to please metal fans (at least the more open-minded ones), but there’s a definite connection here to the smooth sounds of jazz, cabaret, blues, and other music of that continuum. There are even a few instances of what I can only call “circus music,” as well as a gypsy sound here and there. It is, indeed, a “different” kind of album.

The question immediately arises, then: is it “different good” or “different bad”? I have to say good, for the most part. There are some outstanding songs on this album, like the well-titled Velvet Confessions with its cabaret-style intimacy, poignant saxophone, and heartfelt lyrics all wrapped up in velvety smoothness. And I’m captivated by the smoky, slow-burning intensity of Do You Want To Fly, driven by a funky bass-line and showcasing more great sax playing. It’s a toss-up as to which of those two is my favorite, they are both fantastic songs. Song of Liberty is a pretty decent song as well, the heaviest one out of the bunch, allowing the guitar to take center stage and also containing some cool electronics. High On the Blind Speed, which also sounds just like its title, rounds out the higher-energy end of the album. The remainder of the songs are also enjoyable, but either require a little more effort to appreciate, or simply require the right mood. Several of them are just so mellow that they don’t serve well if you want to be energized, but in a more relaxed state they can seep into your consciousness much more easily. To properly receptive ears, there are some gorgeous atmospheres here.

Overall I really like the sound portrayed on Sweet Disillusions. While I miss the violin of the old days, the instrumentation used here gives this album a certain unique flair you probably won’t hear elsewhere. It doesn’t always work (for example, I don’t like the blaring trumpet at the start of Tender Renown), but the objectionable moments are minimal and overlooked easily enough. And of course it’s certainly possible to be distracted from any musical flaws by Zuzanna’s ravishing voice; I think I could listen to her no matter what kind of music was involved.