When I was asked to review the new album of US band Sun Domingo, which has the title Songs For End Times, I didn't have to think twice. I was very curious about this band. Before the Marillion weekend I looked them up on YouTube, to see what I was in for because they were the support act. I saw a video clip of the song Mad Maze and was impressed! Unfortunately, during this particular weekend, I only saw the last bit of the song. Too many distractions! I didn't read any reviews from their performances at the Marillion weekends either, nor from Rock Ittervoort, where they played as well. The only thing I knew was some promotional info that said Sun Domingo made melodic guitar-rock. Not really what I expected and saw on YouTube!
After hearing the album for the first time, it immediately became clear. The songs were all different-which made it quite interesting to listen to-like an adventure.It definitely shows the capabilities of each member of the group, but as a whole, there was something missing.The concept of the album is about the scary but also joyous time we live in. Kyle Corbett, singer and frontman, added on their website that the title Songs For End Times doesn't imply that this is the soundtrack to the final days, but an attempt to impart a sense of meaning to these songs and that's exactly how I feel about it. It seems like they wanted to add something which just isn't there. I think Sun Domingo is a band with very talented musicians, but the feeling I get isn't overwhelming. After the first joy of a big adventure it left me empty, hearing something inarticulate. There is an ambient, spheric feel somewhere though, which I hope they expand upon on upcoming albums.
Despite the big names like John Wesley (Porcupine Tree) and Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief) that cooperated on this album, it all stays mainstream music. The voice of Kyle Corbett is good, but it doesn't transcend the music. You can hear the difference and see what I mean very well in the song Till When We Wait, where Steve Hogarth (Marillion) joins him. The two voices together sound beautifully. Strange enough, I like Kyle's voice in the song Love Is All Around You, which reminds me a bit of Radiohead. Don't get me wrong, Kyle's voice is great, but sometimes too flat for my taste, or it could be because the songs are. In my book, progressive rock means the bar is high. Nice and good just isn't good enough. Most songs on this album are great pop songs, or alternative rock songs, or whatever you want to call it, comparable to bands in that genre like Crowded House, with a twist of prog.
There are a few exceptions and surprises though. First there is the song named Call. If I had downloaded the album, I would have thought it was an error. But I got the demo, so it must be the right version. Still, no clue what it means and without any value at all, or I must have missed it. It was very daring to put it on the album though. Then the other side, the contradiction: Mad Maze- absolutely brilliant! An instrumental piece with a high Porcupine Tree content, beautiful transitions and a sublime build up . It shows how talented these guys are and what we can expect in the future. The intro of the album has the same feel, but unfortunately the level sinks with every song after that.
I'm afraid this album remains on the shelf, but whatever I say or write, Sun Domingo is a band with great potential and with this-I must admit-intriguing album, it doesn't end for them!
*** Janke Rijpkema (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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