Caustic Soul An Absence of Warmth
By Marcus Pan
I applaud Caustic Soul's
efforts with this release. What we have here is an aural interpretation of the
Great War, that is of course being World War I. As this "War to End All Wars"
brought the first use of organized and mechanized machinery to the field of
battle, Caustic Soul have (at least to my knowledge) become the first musical
outfit to bring this to CD.
Caustic Soul consists of self-proclaimed history buffs Mike
Atchley (guitars/vocals), Dave Spethman (bass) and Bill Neiman (synthesizer).
The songs tell various stories throughout the war in a historical fiction point
of view, usually from individual soldiers
Concept CDs are difficult to create. From the fantasy series
of Maiden's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son to Pink Floyd's The
Wall, to more modern works like Midnight Syndicate's D&D Roleplaying
Soundtrack(1), Nox Arcana's Darklore Manor(2) and Joe Renzetti's
Talking to the Dead(3), applying your musical art to something as
conflicting as the first World War is sure to get at least a few people's
danders up. I have visions of 90 year old veterans bitching about those "durned
kids" trying to interpret the Hell on Earth that they've trudged through.
But nonetheless, here we are. An Absence of Warmth
takes you through the war. It seems to start backwards with Elysium
Fields, where poison gas creates a permeation of death as far as the eye
can see. The opening of An Absence of Warmth standing alone can seem
like it could be the end of the story which gives the CD a flash-back quality
and adds to its appeal. Vocalist Mike Atchley touches the subject poetically
with introspective and saddening lyrics (as one can expect from the subject
Lyrical content is wonderful. From the lament of
Solitude's "Strike my pallid face with blackberry screams," to the
lonely airman's words in Snakes and Ladders, "Two broken doves with two
twisted wings." Forgive is a powerful track with ribbon like guitars and
a swift melody. Steel Thorns brings to light the aforementioned
mechanization of world armies, something which was new for the world with this
conflict. Never before have Panzer brigades swept destruction to the background
percussion of slamming shells and firing tanks.
An Absence of Warmth is Caustic Soul's third album(4)
and shows an increased amount of maturity in the triad's work together. The
story is surely depressing, dark and dismal but rivetingly so. A fine
piece of work for both its stand alone instrumentation, lyrics and vocals, but
given a higher status by its conceptual vision and its realization of that
(1) Reviewed in
Reviewed in Legends #146.
(3) Reviewed in Legends #96.
(4) One of their previous, Parliament of
Rooks, was reviewed in Legends
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