Sep 26

Dyonisis – Intoxicated

by Edward, Filed under: Reviews

When I first heard of Dyonisis,  I  felt the old sense of apprehension that I usually get when I receive something from a newer band.   This proved completely unfounded, and I was enthralled from the very first listen.

Short, yet powerful, “We Are…” opens with moody, synth which  leads into Nel’s vocals buttressed by strong bass and percussion. Strong guitar brings the song to an end and the song fades. “Out of the Fear” rolling percussion is suddenly punctuated by heavy bass and guitar.  Beautifully layered vocals  with counterpart segments emerge  at about 4 minutes,.  Buttressed by heavy guitar, and a great bit of slide guitar,  the vocals become even edgier, Synth heavy breaks, with operatic vocals that are simply amazing, give a taste of what to expect from the rest of the CD.  
Programming loops of violin herald  “Inside Out”, with a quite melancholy background that sets the stage  and continues throughout the song.   Harp effects add to the sense of poignancy and pain.  Dramatic synth and sharp guitar  combine with Nels moving pensive vocals that are colored with a tinge of anguish.  Louisa’s masterful backing vocals weave from counterpoint to discordant harmony.  Near the end, forceful guitar suddenly rears into the midst of the violin loops and dirgelike percussion.  Echoed vocals and more synth loops take the song to a fevered end that trails off, as if  into an exhausted sleep.

“Arachne’s Song” After a mellow, New Age sort of intro, smooth vocals take over supported by a strong, heavy bass and guitar that has a nearly funky feel.  The vocals become more layered and intense, while guitar becomes distant and delightfully edgy.  the song escalates, with rolling percussion and heavy synth adding to the volume.  At the end, Nel’s voice is layered in a bit of  magnificent acappella, reminiscent of premier Renaissance groups such as the Anonymous 4, with harmonies and choral style arrangements that just blow the listener away.  
“Eve’s Song” The song begins  with clever, futuristic bass line before a burst of heavy synth and choppy guitar.   The bass line turns into sort of a Funk/Reggae fusion.   Vocals are delightfully complex, with Louisa  soaring behind Nel amid a choral background.  Edgy electro and scything guitar give the song a very “full” feel, with Matt Howden’s violin adding an even  darker tone.   The guitar has an Eighties edge, mingling with inexorable percussion  before a distinctly rock guitar interlude links with more choral/orchestral effects.

“Smart Mouth” opens with catchy bass and slashing guitar balanced by percussion steady as a column of Napoleonic infantry .  Vocals range from perfectly balanced harmonies to deftly shifting counterpoints.  The song settles into a menacing, spaghetti western sort of interlude, then grimly grinds forward with spooky backing effects.  At about four minutes, simply amazing vocals lift into a veritable aural plateau, suddenly fueled by hard, sharp rock guitar.  The song ends with a bit of harp, and an almost Latin flourish.   “you’ve turned the truth into a maze...” reminds me of quite a few people I’ve met.

Now for something a bit different.  If David Gilmour had played with Ikon, it may have sounded something like “Oxygen”.  With the opening chords, I had a fleeting flashback to The Wall before Nel’s vocals takes the reins and launches the song into the stratosphere propelled with piano-type synth.  The characteristically layered vocals aer visceral and heart-rending, under laid with understated high percussion, and Marcus’s bass gives the song added depth.  This gives way to another striking Floyd-ish guitar solo,then the guitar turns abruptly hard and go hand-in-hand with the vocals to bring the song to a close.  “Oxygen” is simply a wonderful song.

“Flown” begins with a touch of synth, then the bass takes the point; subtle, ‘80s-style guitar walks slack:  then the main body of Nel’s and Louisa’s vocals eases into the kill zone.  Nel’s perfectly balanced vocals are overwatched  by Louisa’s angelic operatics. A burst of buzzing guitar illuminates the strong, steady bass.  At three minutes, the music reaches a plateau of loss and yearning.  The last half of the song is infused with a definite hard rock feel, but this tempered wonderfully by cold, nearly U2-ish guitar and  driving vocals, before the song ends plaintively.

“Dead to Me” A bit mellower, starting with futuristic synth with remains the foundation while strong bass and guitar that is understated but clearly lurking in the background.   Vocals remind me of early Cocteau Twins, with choruses that bring New Wave to mind.  Percussion is emphatic, but not overpowering.  Segments of Gilmour-ish guitar  somehow fits perfectly with backing effects that remind me of the cold, far off sound like the ghost of a song from U2 on October or War. The  awesome range of Nel’s vocals are showcased on this song,  while Louisa hovers effectively and spectrally around the edges, echoing into the darkness.  “[F]orked tongues flicker/then deliver twice the lies” hearkens back to the theme of dishonesty in “Smart Mouth”.   A snippet of piano serves as a superb preamble to a harder wall-of-sound section of the song that only accentuates the final, haunting notes of  “Dead to Me”.

“Ashes”  is simply magnificent!   I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best songs I have ever heard.  Each time I listen to it, I hear nuances that I somehow missed before.  Languid, reflective  guitar,and Nel’s pensive, utterly heartfelt vocals evoke a sense of overwhelming loss.  The song progresses with measured, slow percussion,  Louisa’s beautiful backing vocals, and  sharp, yet somehow understated guitar.  Adroitly ranging from a spaghetti western sense of the ominous to a progressive rock anthem, the guitar is a vital component.     A sort of funereal background enhances the amazing vocals, which range from intricate harmonies to counterpoint, with  echoes and  subtle  effects to give this song an amazing emotional depth.  “Ashes” is living proof that a song need not be cryptic or convoluted to resonate deeply with the listener.  Lyrically, “Ashes” is quite simple, yet the music and vocals combine masterfully  to create a profoundly sorrowful and regretful scene that is deeply moving.  After an interlude with slow bass, and a fine guitar solo, the song rises to crescendo  and then subsides, with the vocals echoing away  like the pangs felt after waking from a dream of someone loved, yet long gone.

Moody synth opens the final song of the CD, “Lunatic”.  Measured percussion ramps up a bit before hard rock guitar and heavy bass take the lead.   Louisa takes over lead vocals on this song,  with Nel providing counterpoint and chanting  “We are more…” with a sense of unrelenting urgency .  Then the bass turns into the dominant force, supported by evocative electronics. Staccato percussion kicks in.  These elements swirl around each other, emphasised by periodic flak bursts of guitar, that increase dramatically The song finally ends with a flourish, and the vocals grab at the listener like a drowning swimmer before echoing poignantly away.

“Intoxicated” is a great CD.  It will appeal to fans of Goth, Ethereal, or anyone who enjoys evocative music. that reaches out and enfolds the listener.    The production is crisp and clear, and headphones are highly recommended for the first time.     The astounding vocals are the centerpiece of the CD.  Nel and Louisa weave an intricate vocal tapestry that is nothing short of amazing.  Whether in perfect harmony or counterpoint, they maintain a perfect balance.   Tom and Marcus provide a musical foundation that is equally superb, managing to find just the right combinations to heighten the impact of the songs.   They provide a dark, shifting sea of sound in which Nel’s  and Louisa’s vocals submerge,  float effortlessly upon , or soar dynamically above.

I have not given the lyrics nearly the attention they deserve.   I was very pleased to find the lyrics provided on the inside of the CD cover, and reading them gave me new appreciation for the songs.  There is a distinct sense of continuity within the CD,  as a close reading of the lyrics will reveal.  For example,  “We Are….”  and  “Lunatic” seem to be different sides of the same coin, so to speak.
“Intoxicated” is living proof that  excellent production and originality are not mutually exclusive, for the CD amply displays both qualities.  One of the fine things about “Intoxication” is the masterful way that seemingly disparate musical elements are combined seamlessly to produce a sound that is not derivative at all, but is a very fresh, versatile, and innovative. Clearly the band has done their homework.    Not only is the band extremely  talented, they are friendly as well.   Nel patiently answered my many questions as I took far too long to complete this review.  She is extremely perceptive and knowledgeable.   I look forward to seeing the next release from Dyonisis!

“We are more than the sum of our many splintered parts


http://www.myspace.com/dyonisis

http://dyonisis.info/CD_intoxicated.htm


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