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DarWin: DarWin 3 Unplugged

DarWin are a band/project who, through two expansive but melodic progressive metal albums - one a double disc opus and the other a short, near EP length blast - have made quite an impressive impact on what is a crowded musical arena. DarWin 3 Unplugged takes a sideways step from what has come before, this self-explanatory move into the world of orchestral and acoustic performance taking tracks from those earlier releases and reworking them into completely different beasts altogether.

Initially available as part of a limited two disc version of DarWin 2 A Frozen War, that this recording now finds its own stand alone release is fitting given the strength of what’s on show. Unlike many offerings where a band take their own works and strip them back without really presenting something new, 3 Unplugged feels natural and organic in a way that if we didn’t know better would lead to the belief that “Nightmare Of My Dreams” or “Slowly Melting” were always intended to be this way. Considering the full on - if nuanced - approach both originate from, the reworkings really are quite something. However, it’s possibly “Forever”, where a classical sweep meets a gentle jazz sway, that the effect is most impactful, with the melody and mood offered by the strings counteracted by what sounds like oboe and some intricate acoustic guitar work.

Augmented by The Chamber Orchestra of London and The Reykjavik Quartet, the main players - DarWin on guitars and Matt Bissonette handling bass and vocals - are expertly blended by producer Simon Phillips (Toto, The Who, Santana), who once again provides a fresh but never too flashy base from which all of the elements then jump off. Bissonette may not appear vocally on all of the tracks, with a number of instrumentals making up the album’s number, but when he does, such as on “One Horizon”, his presence is sumptuous and lush, the singer’s understanding of how to keep his performance fitting for these stripped back surrounds being very clever indeed. Although I must admit to finding the acapella take on “Another Year” falling dangerously close to twee.

More of an interesting but fully realised aside than the next true step in the DarWin story, 3 Unplugged still has the ability to stand up strongly to the other albums this project has provided. And as a companion piece to both of those releases, it takes their music into a new dimension.

Track Listing
1. Escape the Maze (Orchestral)
2. Nightmare of My Dreams (Orchestral)
3. Slowly Melting (Unplugged)
4. Forever (Orchestral):
5. One Horizon (Unplugged)
6. Rise (Orchestral)
7. Last Chance (Orchestral)
8. Another Year (Acapella)

Added: July 25th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: DarWin online
Hits: 563
Language: english

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