|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: Markus Sigfridsson & Tobias Enbert|
|Record Label: Massacre||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2003||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 53:37|
Sweden’s Harmony came together in 2000 as a result of a joining between guitarist Markus Sigfridsson and drummer Tobias Enbert. The group released its first and only demo in 2001, a five song effort featuring newcomer Henrik Bath on lead vocals, before signing with Massacre Records the following year. After recruiting bassist Andreas Olsson (Narnia, Divinefire & Wisdom Call) and keyboardist Magnum Holmberg, Harmony entered the studio and recorded its 2003 Massacre Records full length debut Dreaming Awake. Out of print and hard to find for several years, Dreaming Awake was re-issued in the fall of 2008 by the bands new label home, Ulterium Records.
Harmony brings a classy melodic metal sound with the occasional neo-classical and power metal tendency. The band proves in no uncertain terms it can compose a song with a solid chorus hook, as is aptly demonstrated on the albums exquisite title track, purposeful “When Shadows Fall” and majestic power ballad “Without You”. Harmony can take things in an up-tempo direction – the double bass driven “Eternity” and “Fall Of Man” come to mind – or move in a more mid-paced heading (such as on the stylish “Maze Of The Past” and acoustic laced “Remember”).
Henrik Bath is a terrific talent who stands out with his refined and mid-ranged vocal sensibilities. I am almost tempted to describe his delivery as having a slight classic rock influence. Complementing Henrik is guitarist Markus Sigfriddson. One of the finest musicians this side of Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia), Markus can cut loose with some shredding lead guitar or even add some smooth sounding melodies during slower passages to songs. At this point it must be mentioned the penchant Harmony displays for its instrumental sound, repeatedly diving into lengthy instrumental sections (some extended out past two minutes) that have a fusion based or jam-band feel to them. Just check out “Dreaming Awake”, “When Shadows Fall” and “Maze Of The Past” – not to mention the albums three mini instrumentals – to understand my point.
Dreaming Awake showcases a refined production job allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix.
A beating heart and waves washing upon the shore introduces instrumental album opener “Into The Afterlife”. Moving forward to a blend of rhythm guitar and double bass, the song closes out its final seconds to a lead guitar and keyboard trade off.
Drummer Tobias Enbert gets quite the double bass workout on showstopper “Eternity”. This one proves an up-tempo piece, standing out with its melodic based propensities and near perfect joining of sweeping keyboards and accenting rhythm guitar. “Eternity”, as its title implies, focuses on the way to eternal life:
Someone told you there's a man called Christ
Came to earth in love
To save our lives (He said)
There's a way to paradise and
It's through me
Not your works, only I can set you free
Eternity - Where do you wanna be?
You must face the truth to see
Eternity - waits for all of thee
Only Christ can set you free
"Dreaming Awake" features one of the albums strongest melodies. The song gets underway in upbeat fashion before slowing to an acoustic guitar for its first and second verse. After the rhythm guitar kicks in at the start of the third, it carries things to a chorus with a prodigious hook guaranteed to pull you in and refuse to let go. Sigfriddson’s superlative lead guitar helps drive an extended instrumental section.
A slowly moving combination of piano and keyboards upholds the brief (1:26) instrumental “Fragile”.
The majestic power ballad “Without You” is one of the highlights to Dreaming Awake. The song starts to a short drum solo before moving through its first verse acoustically, gradually building impetus until the rhythm guitar fades in prior to a lofty chorus in which Bath exhibits his emotionally charged vocal abilities. A slowly played but lengthy guitar solo helps take “Without You” out past seven satisfying minutes. A message of comfort and hope is delivered here:
In times when I can't see what's wrong or what is right
You help me see things clearly, You're my eyes, You're the Light
When I feel insecure, no help seems to be found
You take me by my hand, put my feet on solid ground
Sometime I feel alone, and no one seems to care
But You are by my side, and You will always be there
"The Fall", the albums third and final instrumental, moves its distance to an amalgamation of keyboards and acoustic guitar backed by female vocal harmonies.
"Fall Of Man" is propelled from start to finish by a fast paced combination of rhythm guitar and double bass, a touch of vocal harmonies and organ highlighting the song as it reaches a fleeting chorus advancing at a spirited upbeat tempo. Sifgridsson’s lead guitar and Holmberg’s keyboards duel throughout a minute long instrumental break. “Fall Of Man” talks about exactly that:
It's time to turn back, turn back to what once was
Renew the life again, let the Spirit be led
Fight for what's true, reveal what is not
Let this Lion prove, He can change the greatest fall
Sounds like the roar of a Lion
It is the call of the One, who alters the fall of man
Opening to a stretch of acoustic guitar, “When Shadows Fall” proceeds through its first and second verse to an immaculate blend of guitar and keyboards. Just the right amount of tight sounding double bass bolsters the song as it attains a catchy chorus that almost comes across commercial in capacity (similar to “Dreaming Awake” you will be challenged to rid the hook here of your mind). The band, again, heads in lengthy instrumental territory. “When Shadows Fall” focuses on allowing the Light to guide our path through darkness:
Oh, when darkness falls
These words will lead my way, like a light on my trail
Oh, when the shadows fall, I will walk this way
Cause it's the light on my path
"Maze Of The Past" begins to a quickly moving combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards. Sustaining the vibrant disposition for its verse portions, the song quickly slows to a crawl only to regain its momentum for a classy chorus underlined by a polished trace of vocal harmonies. An abbreviated guitar solo gives way to a slowly played guitar backed by a piano- all the while establishing an ethereal environs in the process. As its title implies, “Maze Of The Past” touches upon dealing with the past:
You're always awake so late at night
Cause' dreams of the past
Keep you away from the light
You're wandering around, in a maze of the past
Memories, burning on and on
Like, old stories
I wish they were gone
Fading in before abruptly taking off in a fast paced manner, “She” does not miss a beat as it evenly races to a chorus reinforced by more of the bands stylish backing vocals. Keyboards open an instrumental section ending in a tasteful lead guitar and keyboard trade off. While quite solid musically, “She” is the albums only track in which keyboards (IMO) end up mixed a bit too prominently. No, it does not ruin the song but it must be noted nonetheless. “She” details an individual persevering through trying times:
She never thought that she would face this kind of pain
Only remembering words that leave her stained
She never thought she would stand here in the rain
Begging to her God to stop her from breathing
She didn’t know that she was meant to face this day
The scars inside, now fading away
Didn’t know there was a sanctuary for her soul
Spirit of purity, fulfilling her needs
"Remember" takes off to a drum solo that gives way to a slowly moving melding of rhythm guitar and keyboards. Tapering even further to an acoustic guitar for its first verse, the song proceeds through the second and the third with an organ highlights the backdrop. “Remember” picks back up in pace for a succinct chorus in which planning for the future is the subject at hand:
Remember, if tomorrow’s the final day
Still plant your seed anyway
A piano opens an instrumental section peaking for an immaculately played guitar solo. The following best sums up the theme at hand:
Sometimes it’s easier to give up and give in
But as a wise man said; run the race to win
Dreaming Awake represents a very fine debut from a promising young band. The album proves quite consistent in that all its material holds up under repeated play while a solid production job only adds to its appeal. Give Harmony credit, at the same time, for the confidence it displays in its instrumental sound and musicianship. Credit must also be given to Ulterium Records for making Dreaming Awake available again after being out of print the past several years.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Into The Afterlife" (2:06), "Eternity" (5:14), "Dreaming Awake" (6:44), "Fragile" (1:26), "Without You" (7:03), "The Fall" (2:20), "Fall Of Man" (4:38), "When Shadows Fall" (6:20), "Maze Of The Past" (6:48), "She" (5:03), "Remember" (5:50)
Henrik Bath – Lead Vocals
Markus Sigfridsson – Guitars
Magnus Holmberg - Keyboards
Andreas Olsson – Bass
Tobias Enbert – Drums