REVIEW: Amadeus Awad – Time Of The Equinox
Band: Amadeus Awad
Album: Time Of The Equinox
Genre: Progressive rock/neoclassical shred
It has been often been said that music is a universal language, and the original country of any band or project should be no boundary to the experience of a finished product. However, I cannot avoid raising an eyebrow to the diversity of countries that engage in one or more of the many subgenres of rock. As a case in point, I present a prog-rock/shred influenced guitarist hailing from the Lebanon, by name of Amadeus Awad. Last year, he released his début solo album Time Of The Equinox, combining a myriad of influences and styles and resulting in an album that encapsulates his beliefs about harmony and balance in the universe.
That sounds like a grand concept, but the atmosphere of wonder is captured in many of the tracks, particularly the ambience of the Floydian opener “The Origins Of Light”. And of course, it wouldn’t be a shred album without a multitude of solos from the school of Vai and Vejlyt, such as on the following “Gift Of Solitude And Joy”. That said, the other instruments are hardly neglected, with the bass coming into its own in a trilogy entitled “Paper Dreams”, as the album takes a dip into some symphonic Dream Theater territory. Following on, “Spiritus Devi” enhances the hard rock feel, also sporting a cool bass solo.
Turning the atmosphere so far on its head, the next track reveals itself as a poppish rock number, “Meteors In The Blue”, featuring one of the many guest vocalists on the album. Liz Vandall (Sahara) has a unique and striking voice under the piano-and-Satriani formula, although this track and the piano-only “Nostalgia” end up riding on this individuality and jut out somewhat from the rest of the album. Contrastingly, “Autumn Eyes” fares better, with Elia Che making his mark on the reworked Ghost Stories EP track for a warm acoustic/shred track. But without a doubt, the star of the vocal collaborations is Mark Boals (ex-Royal Hunt), who makes the three “Paper Dreams” tracks his own with his emotive voice. Finally, on the non-vocal front, Awad drafts in Delain axeman Timo Somers on one fantastic track, “Tales Of Celtic Sunsets”, although it’s a little challenging to tell who provides which melodies.
To close, the album rounds out with “L’Univers En Deuil” (The Universe In Mourning), a track not dissimilar to the opening one except for an increased shred element. This inclusion of ambient, featured as well in the more developed “Virtual Eclipse” (also in the latter half), leaves me in two minds about its usage. On the one hand, it sets the right kind of atmosphere to achieve the goal which Awad sets out to do. However, it does get a little repetitive when three tracks out of thirteen showcase these soundscapes as a major focal point.
For a début solo album, Time Of The Equinox leaves a reasonably strong impression beyond the first couple of spins. The guest vocals are mostly quite tastefully incorporated, and the guitarwork itself leaves little to complain about. This album is more dedicated to fans of guitar-based albums that aren’t constructed around thousand-notes-a-minute flailing, but something more refined in the hard rock neighborhood. For a first experience of the Lebanese scene’s offerings, I’m certainly impressed and look forward to hearing what more will come from Amadeus Awad, either as a solo career or in a band.
Update: Timo just informed me that the solo section in “Tales Of Celtic Sunsets” was his doing, cheers Timo!