I was a bit surprised that none of the previous albums by the German progressive rock/metal band Subsignal were reviewed for Background Magazine. Personally I have been following the band since the beginning, or better, since the Sieges Even days and became a loyal listener/buyer of their albums. Subsignal was founded by both Markus Steffen; guitar player and one of the initiators of Sieges Even and partner in crime; Dutch vocalist Arno Menses, who was the lead vocalist for the same band for the last two studio albums and for one live CD. After Sieges Even disbanded, the duo opted for a more melodic, smoother progressive rock band than Sieges Even was and so they founded Subsignal. With already four albums and a wonderful live DVD under the helm, the band singed to the German label Gentle Art Of Music. I think they made a wise decision, because if you see the other bands on the label; RPWL, Sylvan, Blind Ego and PHI, to just name a few, Subsignal fits right in.
Over the years the line-up saw the steady aforementioned duo, also bass player Ralf Swager and drummer Dirk Brand are long time members, just keyboard player Markus Maichel joined the band after the previous release. If you want to compare La Muerta to the previous releases I notice another, but less significant as the previous change. Where Subsignal was dedicated to a delicate melodic progressive rock style, the band moved towards a more pure melodic rock style with progressive rock elements. The title track La Muerta remains closes to the initial sound of the band, but other tracks, like the ballad The Approaches or the eighties influenced Even Though The Stars Don't Shine are more melodic rock oriented. The things that remained the same over the years are at first the absolute incredible vocals of Arno Menses, who in my eyes has one of the most pleasant sounding voices in the progressive rock scene. Second are the fine guitar melodies and riffs of Markus Steffen; his recognizable style absolutely defines the band's sound. A track that you really need to listen to is the final composition Some Kind Of Drowning, where RPWL's Markus Jehle accompanies Arno Menses on piano and I Am The Morning's Marjana Semkina adds her smooth delicate voice in this wonderful duet. Although this final track has only vocals, piano and soft orchestration, after a few listens this one became my personal favourite of La Muerta.
A new label, a new sound would be a too harsh expression, but the band did take another musical turn. But in the end it really doesn't matter which musical road Subsignal takes, as long as I can listen to the amazing vocals and great compositions, I'm totally happy.
If you want to see them live, they will be playing ProgPower Europe this year. Go and see them!
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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