Shadeworks - _Sooty Limbs_
by: David Rocher (5 out of 5)
With more emphasis placed on giving this beauty a professional packaging worthy of its unbelievable musical splendour, this four-track self-released MCD could proudly become an essential item in any atmospheric, progressive music lover's collection. Shadeworks is the magnificently moody brainchild of one man (ex-Obsidian drummer Arnaud Nicolas), who plays -- and very competently, at that -- all instruments on this recording, and is assisted by the enchanting voice of singer Fae. Sadly, putting Shadeworks in words can only fail to do this release any justice; both very potent and beautifully atmospheric, tracks such as the eponymous opener or "Blind Healing" give life to the unique and unlikely confluence of acts such The Gathering, Elegeion, Dream Theater, Anathema, Katatonia and Arcturus. Intrigued yet? Mesmerising, simply beautiful guitar melodies and enrapturing female vocal lines are intricately woven into shifting, subdued then powerful rhythmic segues, backed up by energetic, innovative drum patterns, giving each of the four tracks showcased on this gem a resolutely unique identity of its own. The only weak point are Nicolas' nonetheless pleasant low, smooth chants, which fail to recapture the silky, soothing charisma of singers such as Tiamat's Johan Edlund or Diabolique's Kristian Wahlin, despite striving in their general direction. Fortunately, however, the dramatically facile solution consisting in throwing in a load of Tristania-style death metal vocals has wisely been avoided, and the eerily tangible, beautifully restrained metallic power emanating from _Sooty Limbs_ never looses touch with the frailty of Fae's chants or the delicate intricacy of Arnaud's guitar work. A beautiful, moody and ineffably enchanting demo, which no fan of atmospheric music should even consider going without.

Contact: Arnaud Nicolas, 22 rue Reniers, 1090 Jette, Belgium

(article published 12/4/2002)

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