LASCAILLE'S SHROUD — The Roads Leading North (review)

LASCAILLE'S SHROUD — The Roads Leading North album cover Album · 2016 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
adg211288
Having released two albums in relatively quick succession, the third album by one man sci-fi themed progressive death metal act Lascaille's Shroud, titled The Roads Leading North (2016), has been said to represent a fresh start for the project. Though there are some conceptual ties to what went before, musician Brett Windnagle has stated on the Lascaille's Shroud Facebook page that the first two Lascaille's Shroud were planned as far back as 2005. So it could be interpreted that The Roads Leading North is aimed to be the album that takes his music to the next level. Like the previous work the album has been released digitally, with a physical CD release being successfully crowd-funded over the course of the two months prior to its release date (of which this reviewer is a proud backer who can't wait to get his hands on the physical copy).

Listening to The Roads Leading North I definitely think that there have been some noticeable changes in the Lascaille's Shroud sound, while still being a work recognisable as being by the same artist. The music sounds to me to be a bit less rooted in death metal and more in the kind of extreme progressive metal zone like classic Opeth (though this sounds nothing like Opeth, the general feeling of balance between the death metal and the progressive metal is similar), that is to say a prominent use of growling vocals, but also more clean vocals than death metal would usually allow and the also music seems to transcend being death metal thanks to the number of other influences that creep in. I have always thought the occasional non-death metal influence could be heard in different parts of Lascaille's Shroud's music, but Windnagle has taken it even further on this album.

This is a shift that is made clear early on with Restrain the Child, which uses some growls but is largely dominated by clean singing. To compare this to the previous album Interval 02: Parallel Infinities - The Abscinded Universe (2014), it took until the fifth track for clean vocals to be used at all, but on The Roads Leading North they're heard first. Restrain the Child also proves to be an early highlight of the album. Along with the dominant clean vocal approach to the track it also showcases one of the new touches to Lascaille's Shroud's music that I mentioned above, one that I haven't associated with the project before: power metal. Fast, melodic music with epic clean vocals. It stands in contrast to much of the material on The Roads Leading North, which quickly reaffirms Windnagle's death metal loyalties with the following The Neon City, Part 1: Dreams.

The use of synths on the album is familiar in the way there are both electronic (the spacey Sketches of Madness proves quite the unexpected treat) and symphonic based elements, but I feel that there are even more atmospheric sections created with them this time. Windnagle certainly captures his sci-fi themes well musically. I want to bring highlight to Compass, an instrumental piece that precedes the aforementioned Restrain the Child, for this, especially the section with the voice-over starting at around two minutes in, after a full on progressive metal intro, which later moves on into a spacey non-metal section. Definitely a killer duo of songs these two.

All the elements of previous Lascaille's Shroud music and then some are accounted for on The Roads Leading North, with the icing on the cake being a more polished production job that suits the music perfectly. It's fair to call Lascaille's Shroud a DIY act in all ways as Windnagle handles literally everything here apart from guest vocalist roles for John Yelland (Judicator, Dire Peril, Disforia) and Patrick Parris (Project: Roenwolfe), both of whom have worked with Windnagle before, and it's clear that his skills have improved with this release.

As a double disc album like the previous one, The Roads Leading North contains a lot of music to take in. It's a massive release with over two hours of music and fourteen tracks including the epic length When Sleep Takes Us which clocks in at 25:02, which takes up a good chunk of the second disc on its own. When something is this long (meaning the album, not just that one track) it's always a good indication about the quality when there is absolutely no desire to try and take it in stages instead of in one go, which is certainly the case as I've found it here.

I've name-dropped a few of the tracks already, but I can't conclude this review without drawing special attention to the likes of Unspeakably Defiled, What Dwells Beneath Her Flesh, the title track and both parts of The Neon City as well. I think that's actually most of the album's fourteen tracks at least mentioned in this review, which should be another indicator of the releases' strengths. If I haven't mentioned a track by name that certainly doesn't mean there's anything lesser about it of course. If I'm honest I could easily write something about each track individually for this album, as each feels like such an integral part of the complete picture, even the shorter ones that start each disc that could be called intro tracks, but I'm passing one thousand words on this review as is. Long albums like this run the risk of being overblown but this one avoids that problem. My review should do the same.

I was a big fan of the last album and I also liked the first album Interval 01: Parallel Infinities - The Inner Universe (2013) a lot also, but it's been clear to me since even my first listen to it that The Roads Leading North is the most accomplished Lascaille's Shroud album so far, and further listens haven't shaken that belief, only cemented it. Not only is the sound expanded and more polished, but the familiar elements feel fresher, which is a marked difference to my experience when first hearing Interval 02 compared to Interval 01, where it was more like a logical continuation in sound as well as name. 2016 has already proved to be a better year for music for me than last year with several top tier releases already discovered, but this one man band who for some reason doesn't even have a record label just usurped the lot of them.
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666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
"i'd be astonished to find a more boring prog album from 2016 than that one. ;)"

I see what you did there.

I haven't streamed this yet, but I will soon.

more than 2 years ago
Excellent review by the way.
more than 2 years ago
"Unfortunately much like The Heavy Metal Cat said on your previous temporary review the timing was completely wrong for me."

Yeah and I've listened to the full stream of this a couple of times now and am definitely feeling more than a bit gutted right now. This is a fantastic release.

more than 2 years ago
"This is a lot more interesting than a certain other long two disc prog metal album that came out this year."

That wouldn't take much! i'd be astonished to find a more boring prog album from 2016 than that one. ;)

adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah I've had campaign's like this fall at the completely wrong time for me as well. I wanted to back Judicator's campaign for At the Expense of Humanity a couple of years ago but couldn't afford to. There were offering a package that would have got all three of their albums on CD, but I was forced to pass. Now the first two are all sold out I believe.
666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
You make me wish I'd backed this. Unfortunately much like The Heavy Metal Cat said on your previous temporary review the timing was completely wrong for me. I've had to curb my music spending a bit the last few months so I can get my house done up. I'm crossing my fingers for there to be another chance though, at this and his previous albums.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah it's a long one but I barely notice it. This is a lot more interesting than a certain other long two disc prog metal album that came out this year.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Good long review. I'm interested in checking it out, but I'd be lying if I said the length of the album doesn't overwhelm me.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
After my previous temporary review to try to get the campaign attention, this is my real review.

Campaign ends in approximately 11 hours so get in quick if you want to secure a CD copy and/or a shirt.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-roads-leading-north/x/6219327#/

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