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Album Reviews : Rainshadow – Cold Years

By on May 21, 2013
a0969693681_2In the olden days of last century if you released a song from an album and threw in a couple of remixes and a new track it was called a single. At first glance that’s what EP Cold Years by Rainshadow really is, but when you realise these are not remixes, but re-recorded versions, it starts to look a lot more interesting.

In 2006, Ben Williamson had written a couple of demos and at the urging of Mark Kelson from The Eternal they became the album End Songs, released in late 2007. Williamson created Rainshadow and Waters Imperium was released four years later. A mix of dark rock and Gothic metal there was always plenty of strong melody and emotion to play with in these albums and when former guitarist Chris Doig rejoined the band (it hasn’t been the most stable line-up), Williamson worked with him on the new arrangements. Doig also plays cello so it was only natural that it should form part of the EP as it’s the most melancholic and beautiful instrument there is.

Running at around 21 minutes for the five songs, it’s over pretty quick which is a shame for music that is as immersive as this. Full of a wonderful contrast of heaviness and light, it skilfully builds emotion without a lot of intensity, and serves as comfortably as a proper listen as it does providing beautiful background music. The album version of “Cold Years” weaves a simple and engaging melody throughout as the tension and release provided by the instruments draws you into its melancholy. This is followed by “Let Go”, the only new track on the record, drawing on the same formula although it’s not as engaging or emotional.

The standout is the cello instrumental version of “Frost Bite”, which is up next and is as good as anything of its kind appearing in Hollywood films. You know the the scene – the Decepticons have just hammered the Autobots and smoke rises from a crippled and dying Optimus Prime as the camera circles slowly above. The production is spot-on, not overdone and delivers the rich, full sound between bass and guitar that only cello provides. Ghosts (haunted version) continues the warmth of the cello but retains the vocals of the album version and carries on the sadness.

The “midnight” version of the opening track serves as the closer and its differences are not huge. Piano is prominent and the sound is more metallic and produced, but it retains the feel and structure of the original. Overall the EP sits in a place that’s dark but not at the depths of misery and despair.

The question that does get raised is why you would re-record some of your old songs in this way. They clearly take a lot more resources than a simple remix, and unlike most remixes, they are very similar to the originals, even where replacing vocals with cello. It’s almost as if Williamson is saying he’s unhappy with those earlier versions.

Whatever the case, The five songs on the EP work together, are well written, beautifully performed and produced and should be a welcome addition to the collections of fans of Katatonia, The Eternal and Paradise Lost.

Band: The Eternal
Album: Cold Years EP
Year: 2012
Genre: Dark rock/trip-hop
Label: Independent
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
rainshadow.bandcamp.com/releases

Track list:
1. Cold Years (album version)
2. Let Go
3. Frost Bite (cello instrumental)
4. Ghosts (haunted version)
5. Cold Years (midnight version)

About

A relatively recent convert to more extreme metal (not exclusively), I've always preferred non-commercial and progressive music to mainstream. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where in my youth I lived for every new Greasy Pop Records release. I also write for ech(((o)))es & dust and ThisIsNotAScene but it's good to start contributing to an Australian metal site.