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Whispers In The Shadow - Beyond The Cycles Of Time (2014) - Review

Band: Whispers In The Shadow
Album title: Beyond The Cycles Of Time
Release date: 4 April 2014
Label: Solar Lodge

01. Crossroads
02. His Name Is Legion
03. Left Hand Anthem
04. The Sacrament
05. Safe & Sound
06. Lilitu's Claws
07. Incantation
08. Agent Of Chaos
09. The End Of Future
10. Adversarial Light
11. The Departure

"Now let it be understood
Now let it go for good
This is just survival
This is no option at all"

The monument of gothic rock named Whispers In The Shadow has been with us for 18 years until today and now the band, lead by charismatic frontman, occultist Ashley Dayour is at the end of the significant chapter. The band completed the last step of the four album cycle which started in 2008 with their fifth album Into The Arms Of Chaos, followed in 2010 by The Eternal Arcane, then all goth rockers kneeled down in 2012 in front of The Rites Of Passage and now one of the most intriguing, complete, obscure and important spells hes been casted - Beyond The Cycles Of Time. The cycle which deals with the four alchemic stages of the transformation, transformed into sounds and words, inspired by great occultists like Austin Osman Spare, Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Grant, yet by some authors like Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft is the reflection, not just a collection of albums with songs and lyrics, it is a journey, it's a path into chaos... it's the mystical circle that closes only when you devote your mind and soul into the abyss crafted by Whispers In The Shadow.

"So this is you
Stripped to the bone
This is you without a mask
Behind all the answers asked"

If you were used to more direct, in your face and catchy gothic rock that Whispers In The Shadow served us on a couple of previous albums, beware. This opus needs a bit more of attention, it has that special charm that unveils slowly. The band took a little bit different approach this time and surprisingly there's a lot of post-punk, darkwave, even some ambiental elements in the sound of Whispers. Yes, of course, there's still pretty much of all that gothic rock which made them known as one of the most stable bands of the gothic scene today, proven and approved by fans, that's for sure. Each song brings a feeling of coldness, in the beginning maybe a smidgen of discomfort, so take your time, the pure beauty of Beyond The Cycles Of Time needs a special devotion - are you my dear readers still able to listen albums that way? There's no complete satisfaction with Whispers In The Shadow without lyrics while listening to them, it never was, it's almost futile if you are not questioning yourself about some meanings written by obscure mind of Ashley. Reflection is essential!

"Can you hear the sound
Of electric wires
In the falling rain?
Screeching out loud
Like animals in pain"

Beyond The Cycles Of Time is a complex album in its core. The band strikes with some really astonishing groovers like is the captivating opener "Crossroads" and its ablazing metalic chorus, then you can't even take a breath and there's another hard kicking post-punk/goth rocking anthem "His Name Is Legion". The pace is then broken with gloomy atmospheres of the first half of "Left Hand Anthem", later on we can witness to some really mind breaking bass lines. Many really amazing guitar riffs can be heard all over the record, not to mention the pounding drums that add lot of depth, just listen to rather psychedelic "The Sacrament", or kind of tribal sombre, light and haunting at the same time - "Safe & Sound", and of course the synths, producing a veil of darkness and fulfiling the sound all over the place. The bewitching ambiental cinematic psychedelia of instrumental "Lilitu's Claws" gives shivers and shows that Ashleys current collaboration in the project The Devil & The Universe left some consequences. At this very point there's a breakpoint of the album as from now on the band goes out of this time and space.

"We are dwelling in the abyss
A place of vitriolic bliss
We are fallen from grace
But never ever lost our face"

After oriental vibes in rather minimalistic, and dramatic ritual with "Incantation" where Ashley gives one of the most emotive vocal approaches ever, and then the easy going catchy, yet strong very significant rock piece "Agent Of Chaos" with turbulent drums, sparkly guitars and wailing bass, if you thought that everything was said and done, then just wait for the finishing epic tracks, my favorites, "The End Of Future" with a drive that gives some resemblances to British Placebo, how amazingly this song evolves, how breathtaking is the atmosphere, how sick and at the same time distant, yet very emotional, pure beauty, I was blown away by the mix in the final verse... Take a deep breath then with dark ambiances of another instrumental "Adversarial Light", just to enter the final stage that is named "The Departure". Believe me that you haven't heard such a depth in any gothic rock song for years. Pure sonic beauty, how shivers rendering are the vocals here, how much of the atmosphere is in the soundscapes,... there's a constant paradox, because there's a comfort and distress, warmth and coldness, order and chaos.

"Eternity and infinity
Are not the same
Longing for the one
Is crawing for the other"

I hope that is understood that this is one of those must have albums, it's an essential album for the genre that seems to be in a rather ascent for a last couple of years. Not to mention how greatly done and appropriate is the production, then one of those bewitching artworks to accompany the release will keep your eyes busy for a while. If the name Whispers In The Shadow wasn't already the one of those that you think of immediately when asked about gothic music in general, then with this release it surely will become. I only hope that some rumours about their ending after this release aren't true as in this case the scene will lost one of the most intriguing and important bands which seems to be at it's very peak of creativity. If you'll be lucky enough to get one of the limited editions of the release with a bonus album named Dead Letter Songs (2007-2014), with previously unreleased tracks from before mentioned four album cycle period, then the satisfaction will be more than just complete, but I won't go deeper into that as this deserves another review on its own. And at the end I must mention that the band in cooperation with Spine designed a beautiful Tarot set of cards which also comes just on some exclusive editions. Let me conclude this essay with the next verse...

"So this is departure
So this is goodbye
The last chapter is now written
No truth here and no lie
Into chaos we fly"

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9,5/10

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