Forgive Durden

Razia's Shadow: A Musical

Written by: TL on 23/11/2008 23:01:13

Ahh, finally, like AB, for me school is now out for two months, and what better way to celebrate my newfound spare time than to review a really good album? An album that may or may not have cost Thomas Dutton of Forgive Durden all of his band members. All that is known about the situation being that while Dutton had started to work on the idea for "Razia's Shadow" with former guitarist Thomas Hunter, as a side project, the future would see Hunter and the two remaining bandmembers leave Forgive Durden because of "personal conflicts". Instead, Dutton brought on his brother Paul, a student of musical composition, and Gatsby's American Dream drummer Rudy Gajadhar to help him finish "Razia's Shadow", now under Forgive Durden's name - Creating an epic musical featuring some of the most prominent singers of America's alternative rock scene in the various parts.

Those of you who were already familiar with Forgive Durden's debut album "Wonderland" might have noticed that it never really sounded like an ordinary alt-rock album, and when you pop on "Razia's Shadow", it should be clear why. With brother Paul helping out with classical composition and a host of computer emulated orchestral instruments, the two have shown that Thomas' way of singing melodies and telling stories seemingly never really belonged with the quirky simplicity of an indie rock band. This album sounds indeed like a musical, in which Thomas seems much more at home, and I doubt that many will be able to tell that most of it is done by computer, and instead most will find it sounding just as real as an OST from Moulin Rouge or Phantom Of The Opera.

The story of the album speaks of how O the Scientist creates the world but sees it devastated and divided by his fallen angel Ahrima, leaving it split in two for a century before the power of love draws together two youngsters of unusual heritage, who must struggle against the order of society to fulfill their destiny. An epic aiming at a Coheed & Cambria-level of magnificence, while never being as cryptic, mainly thanks to atmospheric narrating of Aaron Weiss (of mewithoutYou), whose performance should stir fond memories in those who loved the similar style in Boys Night Out's fantastic "Trainwreck" album.

What you think of the technical concept of this record, a low-budget musical, done almost entirely by digital means and sung by what is realistically just a gang of semi-famous nasal tenors is up to you. You may view it as something fantastically unique in the rock scene, or as a pop/musical freak with a lack of guitars so disturbing that it is unfit for review at this or any other rock site - Or if you're used to musicals you may think that this is just an overly simplistic one of the kind. In any case, I care little, because what this essentially is, is still a delicious bag of ear-candy for any curious and open minded listener. Especially fans of Say Anything's "In Defense Of The Genre" will love this for being another united effort of some of the most characteristic voices in the scene, and even if you're not instantly taken in by the story and album as a whole, the guest vocals and bittersweet hooks will still give you more than a handful of highlights to add to your rotation. Take Max Bemis (of Say Anything) who's closing in on Freddie Mercury's territory in his role as the tempting spider Barayas or Shawn Harris (The Matches) as The Doctor, who sounds downright disturbed in a song that could've easily appeared in a Tim Burton goth-imation flick. Or how about Danny Stevens (The Audition) who easily outdoes anything he's been doing recently for his own band as The Oracle or Lizzie Huffman (Man In The Blue Van) as Ahrima's unfortunate lover Nidria, whose duet with main man Dutton should draw attention to her otherwise obscure daytime job. While we're on it, Dutton also puts in a stellar performance, playing both lead roles perfectly, but in the end, it is his guests that run away with the limelight regardless.

It matters little though, because if "Razia's Shadow" is to be appreciated, and it is, then it should be appreciated as the product of all the involved, for being a truly engaging and enjoyable listen from end to end, and for the way it manages to sound like so much more than what it really is - That being three guys with a mic, a drum kit and a computer, piecing together audio clips of all their friends singing into a ragtag puzzle of an album. The end product is instead a truly original and interesting album, jumping at you from an angle from which you didn't see it coming, and taking up residence in your mind as one of the most memorable and unusual records of 2008.

Download: Life Is Looking Up, The Spider And The Lamps, Doctor Doctor
For The Fans Of: Musicals! Say Anything, Boys Night Out, Gatsby's American Dream, The Matches
Listen: myspace.com/forgivedurden

Release Date 28.09.2008
Fueled By Ramen

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