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This superb group is probably one of the most popular gothic bands to come out of the nineties and into the new millenium.  Their various tracks are very popular in the clubs and on independant radio shows around the world.  I think their awesome combination of various styles of music really have added to their success. Their music style encompasses more than just a gothic rock style that is typical in this genre.  They experiment with styles from gothic ethereal to ritualistic, cantique styles including many celtic rhythms to the more general gothic and even deathrock styles.

They have various full length albums that span these different styles so well. From the earlier sounds of Elyria, which is probably still the most heard and the most popular among the crowds of the gothic scene, to the very diverse modern sounds of The Burning Season to span their genre styles. They've done many tours around the United States and Europe including the large European and other festivals.  I've had the chance to see them live and they put on a wonderful show.  If you haven't seen this group perform live, I highly suggest you make an effort. They are brilliant in their music, performance and creativity.  I think Faith and the Muse will go down in history as one of the all time great gothic bands.

:ankukoh butoh: - Review

When word first reached me of this new album I was immediately excited to see what this duo has come up with now. They've always been very creative with slight changes from one release to the next. This is another excellent chapter in their long history of music and to hold this package in your hands is to hold a true masterpiece from the genre. It's a true gem with 13 memorable tracks. To accompany this masterpiece is a cool DVD with video clips from concerts, from their new songs and an interview that goes in depth into their history and current hobbies and philosophical views on life. It also comes with a nice booklet containing lyrics, credits, etc. that you have to read back to front in true oriental fashion.

One thing we can always expect from this band is a powerful mix of driving gothic music with touches of celtic and other cultural elements, delving into beautiful ethereal and ambient soundscapes. We start off the album in this true fashion of beauty in heavenly voices with "The Woman of the Snow" and on through "Kamimukae". This latter piece segue's right into the heart and soul of this album with the two driving anthems "Blessed" and "Battle Hymn". "Blessed" dives right into the driving guitars and almost over-the-top percussion much like the roots of the classic punk pieces of the early 80's and before. "Battle Hymn" takes on more of an oriental tribal anthem style with tons of percussion, a little lighter on the grinding guitar and feature more strings and still a myriad of other instruments. This pieces stands out as the true anthem and highlight for me on this album and I think it will definitely be memorable for years like other previous popular tracks.

This overall powerful still remains strong for much of the album including the instrumental tribal piece "Bushido" and then right into "Nine Dragons" which features William Faith taking on the dark shouting vocals we've grown to enjoy from previous albums. The true classic gothic rock sound comes out later on the album with "When We Go Dark" which is another highlight for the album with driving guitars, Richards' angelic voice leading the way. "Sovereign" comes out to finalize the album with a powerful mix of driving guitars, synths and heavy percussion and also featuring both members for an awesome duet.

With all the driving gothic rock aside, we still have several pieces that are dreamy and spellbinding. You wouldn't think anyone could take classic goth sounds, celtic and traditional western styles and mix them with oriental and get something so perfect, mesmerizing and powerful. But this band manages to do so perfectly and we get some of these more ethereal pieces towards the latter part of the album with spoken word on "The Red Crown" or sweet beauty on "Kodama" and "She Waits By The Well". To finalize the album we have a mid-tempo piece that gives us hope for more to come titled "To Be Continued". It infuses powerful guitar, bombastic intermittent percussion and a mix of orchestral sounds for a perfect finale to a wonderful album. With so many elements hearkening back to their roots mixed with this new direction of infused oriental styles, we have a new classic that listeners are sure to enjoy.

Rating: 5/5

The Burning Season - Review

In the press release that preceded this album along with various comments I heard before I got my hands on this album, the word was "change" for this popular goth band.  I didn't know what to expect and subsequently feared the worst.  Once I stuck the CD in my player and started listening to it what delighted my ears was not really what I expected to hear from these excellent artists, but it wasn't disappointing either.  So change isn't all that bad to begin with, but the bottom line, besides adding a little bit more variety to their already unique and genre-spanning sound, they add just a few more twists to it all.

I guess the one thing that has shaped this legendary band over the years is stepping out of the mold, yet hanging on to the great sound that has shaped this entire genre.  As a testament to this theory, the first two tracks rip out guitar riffs, noise, solid female vocals and a fast, driving beat that is in the line of aggressive gothic rock music.  "Bait & Switch" is just an experiment in noise, but in my opinion an excellent intro that gives way to "Sredni Vashtar", a grinding and aggressive track with barely audible vocals except for the chorus.  Both of these tracks would have easily fit into any of the previously released albums, full of style, yet powerful and aggressive, something not new to William Faith in his diversified and experienced past.  There are more of these powerful tracks, including almost a pure rock-n-roll sounding "Relic Song" and another powerful gothic rock song "Prodigal".  While "Relic Song" has a little bit of catchiness in it, the 80's rock-n-roll style is a bit of a turn-off for me and more of a distraction from an otherwise great album.  But I'm sure those that don't take their music as seriously as I do will love it almost as an anthem of sorts.

If you're a fan of the more ethereal and celtic nature that Faith and the Muse has portrayed in the past, there is plenty for you to enjoy on this album like their previous works.  In fact I would venture to say that a few of these tracks are their best ethereal works to date!  "Boudiccea" is the first of these in a simple and minimalistic style with dreamy vocals and acoustic guitar providing most of the music, until the powerful chorus kicks in with an excellent blend of guitars, slight percussion and keyboards.  But the spellbinding track "In The Amber Room" is probably my absolute favorite track with the beautiful orchestrated strings, ambient soundscapes and the absolutely captivating dreamy vocals on a level I've rarely heard before except from the likes of Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Stoa to name a couple of comparisons.  And the finale to the album "Willow's Song" is another great with acoustic guitar and flute that lends a little more towards a celtic style that many people will recognize as being more typical for this group.

There are a few new twists to the album, a more electronic approach on a few tracks which are quite enjoyable in the form of the title track and "Whispered In Your Ear".  But my favorite of these in this more moving electronic style is "Visions" which is quite similar to the popular track from their previous album "Shattered in Aspect" if that gives the reader an idea what to expect. There are certainly more unexpected twists and facets to this album, but overall it stays true to their form of ever-expanding a unique genre-crossing sound.  You can't go wrong with this album, and if you're already a fan, don't be fooled by what you may have heard if it's negative, because there's nothing wrong with change, especially when the change is good.

Rating: 4.5/5

Website: www.mercyground.com

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