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Subterranean Masquerade - Suspended Animation Dreams

Geesh...where to begin?  Well, the first time I listened to this album I wanted to hurl.  Subterranean Masquerade is definitely not a band that you can listen to once and formulate an honest opinion.  Yeah, you can make a hurried and rash judgment about this album, but there is just too much to take in on one listen.  Subterranean Masquerade mixes so many styles of music that is almost borderline insane.  And they switch back and forth what seems like hundreds of times in each song.  Ok, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but there is not one song on here that is even close to one style from start to finish.

Does this CD contain metal?  Oh yeah, definitely.  But you've got to be one of the most open-minded metal heads around to even like this album even partially.  However, those who give this multiple listens may end up being surprised how all the twists and turns all end up leading to something satisfying.  For the metal lover, there is some extreme metal on this disc.  Some heavy guitars, some growling death vocals courtesy of Paul Kuhr of Novembers Doom.  But don't think that the growling happens only when accompanied by brutal guitars.  No, sometimes they are alongside violins, sometimes trumpets, and sometimes I just couldn't hear cause I was too busy thinking out loud....what the heck!  They'll switch from jazz, to metal, to folk, to classical, back to metal, back to jazz, then to some off the wall weirdness, and well...you get the picture.  The strange thing is...what seems to be disjointed and almost horrific on the first listen, seems to all fit together perfectly the more you explore this release.  Want an idea of what you will be exploring?  Try your standard guitars, bass, and drums, then add harmonica, piano, mandolin, Hammond organ, dulcimer, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, flute, trombone, violin, and all imaginable forms of percussion.  As for vocals, you'll have some growled vocals, but their are spoken word, clean male vocals, clean female vocals, choirs, and your occasionally crowd chaos or screaming.  I could go on and on, but describing this is almost impossible with words.  It has to be experienced.

To top things off, you have very interesting, weird, morbid, yet cool artwork by Travis Smith and some stellar production.  And the lyrics...well, they are confusing to say the least.  I could make some wild guesses, but I'm sure I'd be way off base.  The band's website describes the lyrical content as dealing with the purest most personal inner dynamics, telling a love story painted with anger, angst and obsession, while dealing with everyday conflicts and showcasing a grim vision toward today’s ethics.  Hmmm...I'm just not getting that.  Maybe the lyrics are even harder to grasp then the music itself?

One thing you can honestly say....Subterranean Masquerade is not about pleasing the masses and selling millions of records.  This band is talented, yes, but the target audience here is dreadfully small.  I can still find parts of this album that make me cringe, but I'm starting to like most of it the more I listen.  There are positives to being creative, but Subterranean Masquerade is teetering close to going overboard with the creativeness...to the point where finding listeners is going to be a challenge.  Kudos to the band for trying though.  This is one ambitious effort.

Rating: 79/100

Review By: Matt Morrow

The Metal Priestess Says: Then Judas...went out and hanged himself.  Matthew 27:5

Label: The End Records

Total Songs: 8

Total Time: 54:49

Tracklisting: 1. Suspended Animation Dreams, 2. Wolf Among Sheep (or Maybe the Other Way Around), 3. No Place Like Home, 4. Kind of a Blur, 5. The Rock-n-Roll Preacher, 6. Six Strings to Cover Fear, 7. Awake, 8. X.

Best Songs: Tracks 6 and 7.

Band Lineup: Tomer Pink - Guitars/Dulcimer/Harmonica, Paul Kuhr - Vocals, Jake Depolitte - Guitars/Bass, Steve Lyman - Drums, Ben Warren - Piano, Hammond Organ & Rhoads, Willis Clow - Guitars/Mandolin, Mitch Guringa - Electronics & Sound Manipulation, Wayne Burdick - Percussions, Dave Chisholm - Trumpet, Andrew Kuhnhausen - Saxophone/Clarinet/Flute, Joe Chisholm - Trombone, and many, many others.

Band Website: http://www.submasq.com