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Shrouded Unity: The Disadvantages of Being Aware

Maryland’s Shrouded Unity checks all the major prog-rock boxes, including a vast array of instrumentation, complex arrangements, multiple vocals and long songs spread across a sprawling two CDs with an ambiguous title and a Martian on the cover.

Although the band’s Facebook page lists eight members, Arnold Jerrell does much of the heavy lifting on Shrouded Unity’s fourth album, The Disadvantages of Being Aware -- playing guitars, bass, keys, drums, percussion and mandolin, as well as singing, overseeing sound effects and sharing co-producing, co-engineering and co-mixing duties with fellow vocalist and multi-instrumentalist John Sullivan. Add in bassist Michael Routh and five(!) more vocalists (including four women, three of whom bring violin, bass clarinet and more keyboards to the proceedings), and you’ve got an album that can feel overwhelming. Especially with a total running time of about two hours and 20 minutes.

Give Shrouded Unity time, though, and you might find yourself sucked into this dense, eclectic and chaotic musical universe. At times, the most obvious similarities are King Crimson and the Neal Morse Band, which demonstrates this band’s range.

Of the two earnest CDs here, disc two is even more ambitious than disc one, kicking off with a monstrous 17-minute epic titled “Cerebral Conflict,” which is followed two songs later by “The Three Faces of the Shroud” -- a 29-minute marathon in three parts (“Resurrection,” “Reconfiguration” and “Regression”) each written by a different band member. Jazzy female vocals, fusion chops and expansive experimentation abound throughout the entire album.

And at least one song, the alternately bouncy and dreamy “Wondering Spirits,” appears to have been recorded live. Which reminds me: This band must really be something to see.

Track Listing:
Disc 1:
1. Seed No More
2. Who Am I
3. Groom Lake
4. String Theory
5. Doubtfully Peerless
6. The Difference
7. Wreckage
8. Merchants of the Sun
9. Beyond Control

Disc 2:
1. Cerebral Conflict (Part IV)
2. Twisted Ladder/Horror Show
3. Noon
4. The Three Faces of Shroud
5. Wandering Spirits
6. Duality

Added: September 15th 2021
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Shrouded Unity on Facebook
Hits: 301
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Shrouded Unity: The Disadvantages of Being Aware
Posted by John R Sullivan on 2021-09-25 13:44:38
My Score:

John from Shrouded Unity here. Thanks for the review Michael! Yes, we agree, the album can be a bit overwhelming, which is why we recommend taking it in small chunks. We just couldn't stop ourselves. :-D Anyway thanks again!

John




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