|Musical Style: Ambient Doom Metal||Produced By: Randy Michaud|
|Record Label: Stone Groove||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2003||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 52:39|
“For some reason, I have found that the Church and much of Christendom are not particularly comfortable with honest and passionate expressions of worship and reality in music. They seem to be satisfied with what I call ‘formula worship’ and ‘safe music’ that seldom steps outside man-made musical and expressive boundaries that have been formed in the last few years.”
The ambient doom project Troglodyte Dawn is the brainchild of Randy Michaud, a talented vocalist and multi-instrumental virtuoso who previously fronted the eighties heavy metal band D.T. Seizure and recently the Phoenix, Arizona based Christian metal outfit Tykküs. Randy developed the vision for Troglodyte Dawn as a “one God/one man” project in the summer of 1995 while living in Spokane, Washington, spending the next seven years in the songwriting and recording process before completing the project in 2002 following a move to the Phoenix area.
Independently released in 2003, the self-titled debut of Troglodyte Dawn best reflects the influences of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Last Chapter and Place Of Skulls on the two progressive doom masterpieces "Fallen World (including “Human Race”)” and "Lust (including “Testimony” & “Droon”)" in addition to the re-worked cover of the Sabbath classic “After Forever” (under the new titled “Forever After”). But placing a label of “doom” on Troglodyte Dawn, on the other hand, would only be telling part of the story. The album, for example, delivers several ambient instrumental pieces in “667”, “Longing” and “Dawn”, while the worshipful “Redeemed” moves in a direction I might describe as commercial hard rock. “Flower” and “Look On The Cross”, two quieter and more acoustic based numbers, almost tread the water of ballad territory.
Irregardless of musical direction, Troglodyte Dawn proves quite the consistent effort in that all its material holds up under repeated play. That being said, I find the album lacking in just the slightest hint of continuity and cannot help but think that an additional doom-like number or two along the lines of “Fallen World” and “Lust” would have gone a long ways towards a more even listen. Still, in this reviewer’s opinion the artist was successful in reaching his goal of combining the hybrid sounds of Black Sabbath with the ambient music of Tangerine Dream and the worshipful flavorings of Kemper Crabb (ArkAngel).
It is worth pointing out that Randy was involved in all aspects of the project, arranging and producing the music in addition to handling lead and harmony vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards, didgeridoo, flute, kazoo, wind-pipe, chimes, percussion, drum and effects programming and electronic treatments. How is that for versatility? Special guest appearances, however, are made by Andrew Flake (lead guitar on “Fallen World”) and D.T. Seizure bassist
Kevin Mack (“Forever After” and “Flower”).
Production values, which trend towards the thin and muddy side of things, represent the only area of improvement worth noting. A bit of big budget polish would have helped out here a great deal.
“667” is an ambient instrumental album opener carried by a blend of pouring rain, thunder and keyboards.
The nine and a half minute progressive doom epic "Fallen World (including “Human Race”)” begins to a plodding riff before tapering off to a pronounced bass line for its first verse. Slowly and gradually trudging ahead, the song picks up in pace as the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix in time to shore up a fleeting chorus resonating a hook-filled and melodic feel. Further momentum is gained for a minute long instrumental section fortified by a quickly moving rhythm guitar, the guitar driven initiative maintained during the catchy verse portions that follow as the songs subject matter is built upon:
Man and women, He made them
To fill and master all the earth
But the serpent deceived
And God’s children believed
Then passed the sickness on through birth
We bear the cost of their offense
But God has not left us for dead
He sent His Son as recompense
And He did crush the serpent’s head
A second instrumental section coming in at over two minutes showcases a ripping guitar solo. Very creative composition highlighted by Randy’s emotional vocal delivery.
“Redeemed” moves the album in a melodic hard rock direction. The song, accentuated from front to back by an accompanying audience track, proves quite the contrasting change of pace with its infectious, up-tempo energy and worshipful feel to its lyrics:
Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so
I know my Redeemer lives
And in the end He will stand
Upon the earth
"Longing", the albums second instrumental, reflects an ethereal ambience as it slowly progresses to an amalgamation of acoustic guitar and keyboards.
"Forever After", of course, is a re-worked version of the Black Sabbath classic “After Forever” (off Master Of Reality). The artist does a commendable job here in staying true to the original work in that the song is driven its distance by the same catchy guitar riff and vibrant mid-tempo impetus. Where “Forever After” differs from the Sabbath version, however, is in the change made to a bolder and more upfront lyrical direction:
I know it is true it was me and you
That crucified Christ
He took our sin upon Himself
He paid the price
He died for all, He would’ve died for one
He gave His life that we might live
Now just receive
It is also worth pointing out the humorous Cheech and Chong-like dialogue that takes place throughout the song. Anybody seen my Black Sabbath record?
“Flower” is a heartfelt ballad in which a light and airy atmosphere is put in place as it gracefully advances from the start in acoustic based fashion. A beautiful keyboard solo helps shore up a minute long instrumental section. The song draws its lyrics from Matthew 13:3-8:
Father, take this seed
For I am waiting among the weeds
Plant me in the fertile ground
Where Your richness and mercies abound
Will I fade away?
Or die in the heat of day?
I want to push on through
And in the morning bring glory to You
The two minute instrumental “Dood” is sustained by a combination of didgeridoo and offbeat vocal effects.
"Lust (including “Testimony” & “Droon”)", the albums second epic doom masterpiece, begins its first minute and a half to an instrumental section held captive by a mix of slamming riffs and plodding rhythm guitar. Slowing even further for its first verse, “Lust” slowly crawls ahead until picking up in pace for a sweeping chorus delivered in a swiftly moving but catchy fashion. Subsequent to a guitar driven instrumental section, a more up-tempo direction is sustained by “Lust” during the verse portions that ensue before it transitions to another instrumental section bolstered by an energetic guitar solo. As its title implies, the song deals with the issue of pornography addiction and the importance of crying out to God in the face of our struggle:
Creating an illusive mind
A gifted young imagination
Twisting ‘til it binds
Here it comes again
Through my dreams, through my eyes
I desire, I despise
This constant battle
Cannot be heard above my cries
“Please hold me up Lord!
So I won’t fall for these lies!”
An acoustic guitar underlined by a trace of rhythm guitar slowly carries the full extent of the emotional “Look On The Cross”, an atmospheric setting put in place as the song points to the person of Christ:
Now seek forgiveness
And reap this loss
Your strength must come from Jesus
And His blood sacrifice upon the Cross
The album closes with “Dawn”, an instrumental that quietly moves ahead to a blend of keyboards and ethereal sound effects.
Please note that at the time of this writing Randy is working towards his goal of bringing Troglodyte Dawn to a live setting. In addition to adding bassist Garth Linkey in March of 2006, he is currently holding auditions for the bands open drummer position. It is also worth pointing out that work has commenced on a follow up album which, in the artists, words, “promises to be yet another step forward in the evolution and progression of the sound and concepts set forth on the debut.”
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "667" (1:41), "Fallen World (including “Human Race”)” (9:28), “Redeemed” (3:26), “Longing” (3:58), “Forever After” (5:55), “Flower” (6:05), “Dood” (1:55), "Lust (including “Testimony” & “Droon”)" (10:34), “Look On The Cross” (4:21), “Dawn” (5:10)
Randy Michaud - Lead and Harmony Vocals, Lead and Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Didgeridoo, Flute, Kazoo, Wind-Pipe, Chimes, Percussion, Drum and Effects Programming and Electronic Treatments
Andrew Flake – Lead Guitar
Kevin Mack – Bass
Also Reviewed: Tykküs - Ümlaut