Dark Green Glow is the first album from young German quartet Issun. And if you caught a note of awe in that as I type, you would be right as this, despite the age and experience of the band is a very accomplished collection of songs indeed.
Although the band style themselves as prog-metal, there is a commercial edge to their strongly melodic pieces and they are not afraid to vary the range and tone from gentle piano based 'lullabyes' (Think I'll Stay In Bed Today) to full blown prog rock epic in Tempest Of Laughter which holds court as the centrepiece of this fine concept album. The thread which runs through this collection is an exploration of a child's night terrors based in a haunted forest with a Dark Green Glow which provides a great basis for imagination, both lyrically and musically. I have to say that by the end of track two, the single Lost Generation I was already in awe of vocalist Thomas Schroder's voice. The range and power is quite outstanding, convincingly switching between high pitched, full-blooded emotion to engaging intimate vocals without weakness in any department. If the vocal performance sets the benchmark, the rest of the band do not fall short either, and every member shows equal facility in their own departments. Markus Ottenberg's guitars sing, shred and soar delightfully, while the rhythm section of Marc Andrejkovitson (bass) and Simon Schroder (drums) effortlessly negotiate the twists between different sections and nuances.
An album such as this throws up many favourites, and everyone will have their own. The aforementioned Tempest Of Laughter is a theatrical tour de force which allows the whole band scope to show off their talent to perform and express themselves through a piece of music. Perhaps Remember Me and the upbeat pop-rock closer Even best shows off the band's way with a 70/80s rock styling while Twilight Forest brings in a more experimental jungle percussion lead sound and Dark Green Glow shows off a harder, grittier edge although always within sight of those soaring melodic hooks and the menacing lush forestation that pervades. There is always something commendable to find in each track and the best way I can sum up Dark Green Glow is to point out that I have heard musicians who should know better fail to hold my attention for a full 69 minutes. That Issun did it and left me thirsting for more is a testament to just how rounded, varied and entertaining this is. I will definitely be looking forward to hearing more in the future.
***** Andrew Cottrell
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