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Existence

Dark Suns

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Album Review

On their impressive debut album, 2002's Swanlike, Germany's Dark Suns showed a precocious flair for the exacting challenges of progressive death metal, thus earning speedy and possibly premature comparisons to such contemporary giants of the genre as Sweden's Opeth and America's November's Doom. Needless to say, their sophomore album was then instantly saddled with significantly higher expectations, long before eventually emerging in 2005 under the inconspicuous heading of Existence. And, yet, surprisingly enough, it actually tempted fate again by aiming even higher than its predecessor, as the Dark Suns abandoned all manner of coarse, Cookie Monster growling, and enough of their thundering guitar tone to brazenly cast their lot in with heavier-leaning progressive rock contenders like Norway's Green Carnation and England's Porcupine Tree. What's more, Existence was a full-fledged, CD-busting, 78-minute concept album that affirmed the band's wishes to definitively stamp their immigration visas into this brave new world. Well, aside from eliciting the fearsome ire of unadventurous metalheads, the band seemed perfectly up to the task of delving into multiple musical moods and intricate songwriting frameworks — at least initially. Among the multi-faceted highlights were the driving goth rock of "The Euphoric Sense," the supple, piano-led "Daydream," and the densely orchestrated likes of "Anemone" and "You, a Phantom Still" (both juxtaposing some serious guitar crunch against a wall of sweeping synthesizers). Unfortunately, some other songs ("Her and the Element," "Gently Bleeding") seemed to get a little lost in the mists of Existence's complex, elliptical, and oftentimes downright wordy storyline concerning life, death, and the innocence lost in-between...or something along those lines (bring a dictionary!). By the time the band turned for home on the album's second half, unwieldy epics like "Abiding Space," "Patterns of Oblivion," and closing colossus "One Endless Childish Day" (two of three run over ten minutes) simply started to sprawl into on another. Without exception, each one of these contained several brief flashes of brilliance amid their untold number of mottled musical passages, but they also all appeared to be draped like ill-fitting tarps upon their overwrought lyrics, all too often. In the end, these lingering issues showed that the Dark Suns still had some rough edges to smooth out and loose ends to tie up, before they could take full and comfortable command of progressive rock's broad creative palette; but at least their goal was closer within reach.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

With a sound inspired in equal parts by the progressive death metal of Sweden's Opeth, and the orchestrated gothic death/doom of November's Doom and early Paradise Lost, Dark Suns emerged from the city of Leipzig, Germany, in 1997. A first demo, Below Dark Illusion, appeared the following year, and an EP entitled Suffering the Psychopathic Results of Daily Blasphemy (and containing but one, 14-minute song) followed in 1999. By 2002, the band had come to feature vocalist/drummer Niko Knappe, guitarists...
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Existence, Dark Suns
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