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At War with Self: Acts of God

Gordian Knot's Glenn Snelwar is behind this, At War With Self's second album. He has teamed up this time with Damon Trotta, a bassist with an experienced background, mostly from the heavier side of rock.

The album opens with an atmospheric but doom-laden sound as it tries to unravel the thinking behind the twin towers attack. In "911", the shock and awe of the event as it unfolded on cameras around the globe is captured by a searing guitar firing over the gradual rhythmic build starting from an acoustic guitar figure and leading to a power metal riff. The climactic surge ebbs back to a solo acoustic guitar to close dust settling.

In "Threads", I hear a distinct Gordian Knot influence in the arrangements which flow between wistful synths and edgy guitars over a steady rhythmic base. The tempo drops back in "Ursa Minor" to an appropriately spacey, psychedelic feel with the impressively named singer, Mark Sunshine's voice oscillating a reflective lyric in the background. A Gilmour-like guitar accompanies the slow development of the song in places.

"End in Blue" is a desolate song of loss and suicidal inability to cope, featuring an arrangement that at times reminds me of Fates Warning's Shades of Grey album. "Martyr" by contrast uses a string-synth arrangement introduction which leads to the band blending a metal guitar riff with a complex bass pattern and swirling synths. This builds up to a point where the sound wanes to a single mandolin, leading to another intricate progression which culminates in a chaotic and confused fade out. One of the most interesting tracks on the album.

The psychedelic feel is back in the doom-laden track, "No place", whilst in "Choke Loud", there is something of a techno influence around the nervous tension and fragmented guitar breaks. "Refugee", the closing track, is a dark and dense song which mixes a distorted version of "when the saints go marching in" with didgeridoo and a clashing cacophony of rumbling bass, wild voices and drumming in several odd metres.

The line-up: Glenn Snelwar - guitars, mandolins, synths
Damon Trotta - bass, vocals, didgeridoo, programming
Mark Sunshine - vocals
Manfred Dikkers - drums
Steve Decker - drums
Dave Archer - Synths
James VonBuelow - guitars

Track Listing
1. Acts of God
2. 911
3. Threads
4. Ursa Minor
5. End in Blue
6. Martyr
7. No Place
8. Choke Loud
9. Refugee

Added: July 19th 2007
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 3660
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

At War with Self: Acts of God
Posted by Jedd Beaudoin, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-07-19 13:03:20
My Score:

Mark Zonder, Michael Manring and Glenn Snelwar could make an appropriately jam intensive prog rock nightmare album in their sleep. Thankfully, the core trio behind this album has opted to do anything but. While Acts Of God is not without its progisms, the collection maintains a richly organic feel that at times recalls the rich acoustic gems of Led Zeppelin's III
("Acts Of God," "Refugee"), finds time to take detours into the Land of Weird (the nightmarish metal-cum-something "Threads," the Krimson-on-turntables "End In Blue") and creates a thing or two of unspeakable beauty ("Ursa Minor," "No Place"). Ideally, this is the beginning of a long, fruitful and beautiful musical friendship.

At War with Self: Acts of God
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-26 15:28:05
My Score:

Multi-instrumentalist Glenn Snelwar completes an about-face with the second album from his eclectic, originally instrumental project At War With Self. Rather than call on renowned players such as Michael Manring and Mark Zonder (who graced 2005's debut, Torn Between Dimensions), the Gordian Knot contributor recruited relatively unknown musicians to help him combine disparate styles of music that transcend easy boundaries and classification.

Essentially, At War With Self has been pared from a trio to a duo for Acts of God, with Snelwar on guitars, mandolin, synths and programming, and Damon Trotta on bass. Guest players include members of the noise band Von Garcia most notably vocalist Mark Sunshine, who for the first time brings a human voice (albeit a disjointed one) to At War With Self.

After the acoustic, ambient title track kicks off this nine-song set, At War With Self sends the loud-and-clear message that Acts of God is a much colder and edgier record than its predecessor. The chaotic "911," marked by frantic guitars, reflects the song's title reference to September 11, 2001, while "Martyr" takes listeners deep into a cacophony of another type. The spacey "No Place" and "Ursa Minor" swirl in shadowy sonic abysses, " and Choke Loud" ventures into electronic-noise territory. Sunshine makes his first appearance on "Threads," sounding disconnected and gradually giving way to fat-sounding guitars that drive the song to its conclusion.

What begins as a pleasant enough listen with "Acts of God" ends in tonal turmoil, with closer "Refugee" devolving from Alice in Chains-like acoustic arrangements to utter dissonance. Somehow, it's an apt conclusion to a record that never stands still.

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