Album Reviews

Amadeus Awad- Schizanimus

Extremely talented guitarist, gifted composer, and all around nice guy, one could say that Amadeus Awad has a bright future ahead of him. From looking at his career so far though, he isn’t in any mood to wait for it. He is hitting the music scene with everything he has, and is hitting home with each blow. First was the EP Ghost Stories in 2011, then his debut LP Time of the Equinox in 2012. Since one a year seems to be his pace, and since its 2013, I guess we better take a look at his next production, the concept EP Schizanimus.

Amadeus follows the path laid by composers such as Arjen Anthony Lucassen, write great music, and surround yourself with great musicians. In his own words from the stellar interview he did with the Lady (which can be read here),”I think that my ego as an artist is a mosaic of the egos of each of us in the band, we are family.” For Schizanimus, that mosaic of egos can play some serious music. Awad takes care of the guitars, keyboards, and programming. On vocals is Elia Monsef, Dan Veall is on bass, additional keyboards and orchestration is done by Danny Bou Maroun, and drumming is done by none other than Gavin Harrison. The stage is set, all the aces are in their places, let’s spin this thing, shall we….

Schizanimus opens up with A Song for the Loner, and opens up with a somber, subdued tone. The guitar seems to be sounded by thought alone, it’s so gentle, and an occasional clip of the bass keeps it from flying away. Monsef’s despairing and searching vocals come in, and we know that we are in for a cryptic and harrowing ride. Lyrically it is a puzzle to be unraveled, allusions and metaphors substitute for direct storytelling, just the way I like it. Such simple lines like,” We brought the demons to our bed ‘til we taught the darkness to weep alone” can be taken to any level of meaning, pending on the listener’s life. Immediately, we are personally involved with the music and the story. As the opening of the song plays itself out, the rest of the band subtly slide in, and without warning, they are off in a brilliant fashion. Harrison does what he does best, not just keeping time and playing thunderous fills, but he becomes one with every instrument around him, and at times, is the leader of the pack. But he doesn’t outplay the others, they all merge to wisp the listener to wherever they please. Awad’s guitar in the middle instrumental section are soulful, he is reaching deep within himself and letting it play out over his strings. Finishing as the song started, we move into Noir.

The mood of Noir continues where the previous track leaves off. This track is a bit gentler in tone, but much darker in theme, as the tale of a man who is mournfully regretting a love lost, and despairingly imagining her with another in the depths of the night. He accepts his mistakes, ”Does he know, as he walked in my shrine, that he’s only there cause I was blind?” but this does nothing to heal his deep inner wounds. Musically, the tone is carried wonderfully, again. The regret in the vocal work, paired with the mournful blending of the musicians, brings all the thematic elements together perfectly. As the song ends, there is a deep sigh, and the final track is entered into. Poetry of Time opens with gentler guitar work, and Monsef really digs deep and lets out some seriously emotional vocal work. As the rest of the band jumps in, a symphonic element with cryptic voice samples sets the tone for the rest of the song. This one goes even deeper and darker, before emerging in some sense of light. The middle vocal section carries an attitude of a brewing storm; there is apparent anxiety and desperate fervor to the tone and lyrics. The final instrumental section the band really blends in and lets it all go. Without insanely flashy solo work, the members deliver a structured musical package that grips the listener and has pretty much its way with them. In short, it’s brilliant. The album closes with a simple message that “the poetry of time is written on your soul, and when you read the lines you can open any door.” Subtle, simple and straightforward, the answers lie within. Sooner or later in any lost love, there is the regret and wondering, the second guessing and the self abusing fantasization. True healing won’t begin until the scattered governing spirit of self, the animus, is brought back together.

As I said earlier, the lyrics are open ended enough for the listener to become personally involved in the story. For me, it describes the moments between lost love and moving on, a dark time for anyone. Hence, Schizanimus is dark, it’s sad, with only a glimmer of hope at the end. Amadeus Awad, along with the brilliant musicians featured, embrace this and deliver fully. One can only imagine what he would be capable of with a much more involved story, such as a concept album about ancient Egypt………

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