SOUL DOUBT — The Dance Of Light And Shade (review)

SOUL DOUBT — The Dance Of Light And Shade album cover Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Sometimes bands form and then they crank out as much product as possible in hoping that something will catch on in the vast world of music available these days but once in a while a certain act will take the complete opposite approach and spend many many years crafting a sole epic album that they deem flawless in execution. Such is the case for the Italian band SOUL DOUBT that formed all the way back in 2001 in Forli. This band that straddles the line between progressive metal and progressive rock in many ways is a typical band with typical instrumentation. Early members began the project simply for fun before they decided to take it all serious in 2004.

Several years were spent crafting a unique blend of progressive rock and metal and playing live shows and in the process went through many personal changes before recording the self-produced EP “Winter’s Tale” which was released in 2010. At 40 minutes and a concept EP that fused prog rock and metal together with myriad experimental touches, the band was displaying its epic approach at this early stage but it would take an additional seven years of hardcore practice and studio recording for the band to finally release its debut album THE DANCE OF LIGHT AND SHADE that was released independently in 2017.

For this long awaited debut album the members include Marco Ciancaglini (lead & backing vocals, acoustic & Classical guitars, keyboards, Irish folk and stupid whistles, composer, arranger & producer), Federico Benini (5-string & fretless basses, synth, programming & sound design, composer, arranger & producer), Marco Calbi (electric, acoustic & Classical guitars, dobro), Nicola Casamenti (lead guitar), Francesca Pretolani (piano, keyboards, synth), Ale D'Altri (drums) along with the extra help from Davide Lavia (keyboards, synthesizer) on a few tracks and the extra vocals from Emma Ronca and Jennifer Vargas. 
THE DANCE OF LIGHT AND SHADE is an expansive beast that consists of 20 tracks and clocks in just past the 107 minute mark making this lengthy album a true commitment to undertake however although it’s not without its flaws (lengthiness being the top dog here), SOUL DOUBT truly excelled at crafting an epic slab of metal infused prog rock that runs the gamut from Pain of Salvation and Riverside influenced heavier sounds to more ethereal spaced out slabs of Pink Floyd, excessive uses of modern symphonic prog in the vein of Spock’s Beard or various neo-prog bands along with lush pastoral folky sections as well as ambient and electronic atmospheric contributions. The album is impeccably produced and rather theatrical with operatic vocals and dramatic displays of fiery passion much like the symphonic Italian prog greats of the past.

Despite falling into the progressive metal camp, the album is so diverse that the lion’s share of the musical real estate often falls in the mellow, spacey or chilled out zone however when the metal does occur it is fiery and bombastic and even displays extraordinarily virtuosic guitar solos but for much of this album i would say it sounds closest to bands like Riverside that exist on the prog metal lite side of the spectrum and when the symphonic mid-tempo sections kick in with the female singers adding their harmonies, THE DANCE OF LIGHT AND SHADE sounds like it has permanently parked into the world of neo-prog. While there are experimental touches such as the circus music feel on “Circus Oblivion,” the album is for the most part on simmer with melodic streams cascading with atmospheric grandiosity and epic symphonic suffocation. A bit of Celtic folk music and pastoral touches from 70s Genesis also find their way into the mix.

While there’s really no bad track on this one, the main hurdle for getting through this one is its ridiculously long playing time and while double albums aren’t necessarily a bad thing, THE DANCE OF LIGHT AND SHADE unfortunately doesn’t quite muster up enough diversity to offer up the masterpiece that many consider this to be, at least not in my book. The album in many ways plays like an early Pain of Salvation album for sure but not as dramatically in your face and instead relies on an excess of mellowed padding to keep things from getting too out of control. While i personally would’ve preferred a much more adventurous album that dabbled in as many styles as there are tracks, i cannot deny the top notch quality of this album and for those who love Riverside a lot more than i do, you may actually really, really love this album but for me it doesn’t quite reach the top ranks of par excellence.
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