ARTIST: City Of Souls
RELEASE DATE: May 1st 2020
REVIEWER: Curt Ubank
Its not often you hear of alternative prog bands from New Zealand, and as a country with some pretty rich and varied musical history, It can be a bit of a mystery as to what you’ll get. City of Souls are one such example. They’re somewhat of a super group, with members from many NZ alternative metal bands and after 5 years of touring and singles, “Anesthesia” is posed to be their first full length album.
As soon as the opening tracks start, it’s pretty clear that this album is going to be a richly layered masterpiece. “Life blood” is a haunting introduction to the band, With vocalist “Richie Simpson” perfectly prominent in the mix and masterful guitar work throughout. “Ferryman” is an example of many tracks found on this record. Several songs have previously been released as singles, prior to finding themselves here, though you’d never know it, as style and songwriting obviously match seamlessly. “Whispers”, “Cruelty” and “Shimmer” showcase how well deliberate and polished this album is. They’re densely layered epics with every piece meshing perfectly while still being able to be heard and appreciated. The mix on this record is stellar, with each part being crisp and clear while still being heavy and technical. “Cruelty” and “Shimmer” are the two most recent singles and it’s obvious why they were chosen. They are masterful tracks that sum up the band perfectly.
“Wolf” is a great opportunity for Guitarists “Marcus Powell”, “Trajan Science” and “Steve Boag” can create some incredible riffs and segments as a trio, with lush harmonies, gritty riffs and haunting fills. “White ghost” is a stand out cinematic sprawler, stacked in front of previous singles “Sleep”, “Water” and “Long Gone”, and may be my favourite track from the entire record, its an absolute banger and is DEFINITELY worth a listen through good quality headphones. “Tying Tongues” is another fresh cut from this album, beginning with acoustic guitar harmonies, and serene vocals before building to a gorgeous chorus, it’s a great track that wouldn’t feel out of place on alternative radio. “BrushStrokes” and “LWTUA” are dreamlike and eerie, and it may take a second or two, but “LWTUA”‘s guitar riff will certainly be recognizable, as it’s a beautiful cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. It’s a great re imagining, with bassist “Daniel Insley” as a stand out aspect all over it.
“Mountain”, “Synasthesia” and closing track “Iron Heart” are perfect for the tail end of the record, with a fully cinematic flow that perfectly fits the band’s vibe. The instrumental “Synasthesia” is an absolute joy to listen to, as it builds to a gorgeous crescendo, pounded forward by the skillful drum work of “Corey Friedlander”. “Iron Heart” is a grand, upbeat closer, to an absolute EPIC of an album.
For any band, this would be a triumphant first release. This is a masterpiece from cover to cover, and “City of Souls” truly have poured their heart and souls into this record. There is something in this for every taste, and its impossible to ignore the masterful musicianship on display. I guess we can only hope it isn’t another 5 year wait for Album #2