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Traumhaus: In Oculis Meis

Traumhaus have been active for some 20 years now, but don’t rush them… after all In Oculis Meis, or Keep Your Eyes Open, is only the band’s fourth album. With an ever evolving line-up, the sole member to traverse those years and recordings is keyboard player and vocalist Alexander Weyland, and from a little research (this is my first meeting with Traumhaus) across that time he’s overseen quite a metamorphosis. Beginning life as a more traditional symphonic prog outfit - albeit one who sing in German - as we meet album four so the band are now a hybrid of neo-prog and progressive metal. In the end this album sounds like Traumhaus (which is definitely meant as a compliment) but along the way you can also hear quite a touch of Arena and a few smidgens of Threshold. In fact I’d say that the guitar playing from Tobias Hampl is part John Mitchell and part Karl Groom, although at times there’s an unexpected touch of Brian May (Queen) in some of the guitar solos! By that you’ll doubtless have understood that we’re working on quite a complex and diverse structure here, a daredevil tightrope walk between melody and riif-crunch tip-toed throughout.

The eagle-eyed among you will no doubt have noticed that this latest effort from these German proggers is a weighty double CD affair, disc one a German language take on proceedings, while disc two re-steps the journey in what I believe is new territory for the band, with all eight songs then represented in English. That maybe says a lot about how important the conceptual aspect of this album is for Traumhaus, as the ever more topical subject of how we cope with the modern world is put under the spotlight. With the lyrics also printed in both languages, the boat really has been pushed out here to make sure we can all partake. Thankfully the aggressive, passive, questioning, accusatory emblems are explored in fine style and with a few revisits to musical themes, as similar motifs and melodies are intentionally brought forward in more than one track.

The clearest illustration of this side of things arrives with “Bewahren & Verstehen”/“Preserve & Understand” and “Verstehen & Bewahren”/“Understand & Preserve”, where the same ideas are explored on different terms. Weyland is a capable vocalist, more about expression and emotion than he is falsetto precision. Personally, I prefer his attack in his native tongue but then I often like to hear a band sing in the language they best relate to. That said, both versions make an impact as “Der Vorsprung”/“Walk On Yourself” bulges with convulsing riffs as it also somehow feels intimate and measured. “Viele Weg”/“So Many Ways” spurts and sparks with an off kilter energy, while the English version also reveals a vocal likeness to Peter Gabriel that isn’t always apparent elsewhere. And yet it’s “Die Dunkelheit Durchleuchten”/“X-Ray The Darkness” which maybe does the best job of showing all of the combined forcefulness and fragility of In Oculis Meis, as it veers from hi-hat cracked barks to keyboard led sing alongs.

This is a bold statement from a band clearly looking to take their music to a wider audience. In real terms playing aggressive progressive rock means that any expanded reach is immediately limited and yet, for those more open minded folks out there, what Traumhaus have achieved with their fourth offering really is worth exploring.

Track Listing
CD1: (German)
1. Das Erwachen
2. Bewahren Und Verstehen
3. Der Vorsprung
4. Entfliehen
5. Viele Wege
6. Der Neue Morgen
7. Verstehen Und Bewahren
8. Die Dunkelheit Durchleuchten

CD2: (English)
1. The Awakening
2. Preserve & Understand
3. Walk On Yourself
4. Escape
5. So Many Ways
6. The New Morning
7. Understand & Preserve
8. X- Ray The Darkness

Added: June 28th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Traumhaus @ bandcamp
Hits: 1063
Language: english

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