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Synth Album Review: "Requiem Aeternam" by Neon Shudder

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

Cover illustration by Strawberry Nightmare

Cover illustration by Strawberry Nightmare

Initial Impressions

Neon Shudder’s Requiem Aeternam roams over shattered landscapes of sound, weaving together contrasts in tempo, synthesizer sounds and mood to create images and sensations. There’s lots of moving parts, but they hang together and create quite a bit of auditory interest for the listener.

I do enjoy the use of contrasts on Requiem Aeternam. There are moments of warmth and gentleness that shift against a background of aggression and grit. I enjoy how there are moments in which chimes sparkle with crystal light while a sonic storm rages below them. Neon Shudder explores the contradictions that often seem to be a part of life in this soundscape.

The way in which the tracks on Requiem Aeternam use different segments makes them feel like tightly packed pieces of classical music, at least in terms of their makeup. The tracks drift through a wide varieties of tempos and moods within themselves, but I don’t feel they get chaotic. Instead they sketch out complex mixtures of sensations and sounds.

Unique synth sounds abound on this album and Neon Shudder creatively combines different tones and timbres to keep exploring contrasts and sensations. The way in which all of the different synth sounds interact further adds to the feeling of each track being layered and complicated.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Ic0n0clast”

“Ic0n0clast” begins with oscillating, sawtoothed bass pulse and a quick, light drumbeat with a metallic feeling is joined by a shifting, medium low synth carrying a wandering melody. The melody leaps and bursts, accented by the hard hitting bass growl. I enjoy how the lead melody has a feeling of ancient roaming about it, as it goes spinning out through the track.

The light, piano-like drift is joined by more hard-edged lower sound as the beat bursts in again. A section with bright, full synth calling out a slightly distorted melodic pattern leaps into the music. The track breaks as the tempo slows and the drums pound before launching again and bright synth rises in a yearning pattern. There’s a move back into that ancient sounding melody over the bursting growl.

“Mad Limit”

A shimmering glow of sparkling synth chimes moves lightly over the breaking, leaping beat that launches “Mad Limit” along with an uplifting, energizing melody carried on a guitar like synth. A pattern of notes played on an organ-like synth dances out with wild abandon, adding even more energy over the throbbing drums.

Extended, full chords and a descending medium low synth with a metallic sound move below the electronic-sounding melody that climbs into the track. I am drawn to the driving, howling synth solo that dances in an angular pattern through the track. There’s a sense of nervous tension that imbues this track as it comes to an end.

“Paper Tigers”

“Paper Tigers” leaps to life as the beat hits hard underneath a dramatic lead synth melody that soars out, carried on a brassy synth, over the throbbing bass. The electric bass has active quality to it that I find quite ear-pleasing as it underpins the leaping melody. An intertwining, layered series of notes moves behind the energizing melody and the stuttering, shifting bass adds more dynamism to the track.

The brassy lead synth melody calls out, propelling the track forward, while the bass line has a feeling that evokes a disco beat for me. A shiny, minor key synth part adds a darker quality and a deep metallic sound, something like a xylophone, introduces another sonic layer to the track. We return to the main melody once more before the track ends.

“Moonlight Dreams”

A distant, bright piano plays a pattern of glowing notes to start “Moonlight Dreams” off. A warm and slightly buzzing synth part swells into the track, deep and rich, over the kick drum that pulses into the track. The whole drum part bursts into the music below the buzzing, round synth lead that calls out a melody that combines shadow and light in an effective way.

Delicate, hollow notes carried on an elevated synth shift in a slow pattern before the track breaks into warm strings and jangly piano. The drums hit again and hollow synth notes trickle through behind the strings and piano. There’s a slice of growling guitar that carries the driving, shadowed shadowed melody before the track breaks into before fading to nothing over a rough growl of synth.

“Thunder Blossom”

“Thunder Blossom” comes into being with a chiming, open, lost pattern of fragile notes, shining softly as a darker swell of sound drives into the track. The synth is sharp edged and deep as it carries the wandering, minor key melody that establishes a slashing, angular sonic pattern over battering drums.

The lead synth is medium high and clear as it cries out and the thick, dark pattern of wandering notes cuts over the throbbing beat in a dense flow, while the drums propel the track onward.

A section with the synth that resembles a xylophone carries a lost, distant pattern of notes over the bursting aggression that underpins it. There’s a move to a rapid, stuttering drumbeat and a high, nasal, computerized synth whirls out in a solo over the wandering xylophone. A segment with a rising, uplifting melody calls out on a glowing synth over the growling bursts of sound below.

I am drawn to the contrast of the shadowed segment as it balances with warmer sounds. The beat drives on while the elevated synth cries out in an energized pattern. I also enjoy the bouncing, slashing segment where electric guitar snarls and the lead melody cascades and moves over the grit.

Conclusion

Requiem Aeternam wanders through sonic landscapes of loss, rage, beauty and pain. I enjoy how Neon Shudder seems to have crafted the tracks to showcase contrasts and sonic textures. I found that the album kept my ears and my brain engaged.

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