Monday, November 3, 2008

Forgive Durden's pièce de résistance

The most important album since In Rainbows

Razia's Shadow

May 1969: The Who releases Tommy
November 1979: Pink Floyd releases The Wall
May 1988: Queensryche releases Operation: Mindcrime
May 2006: Forgive Durden releases Wonderland
October 2006: My Chemical Romance releases The Black Parade

October 2008: Forgive Durden releases Razia's Shadow

If you haven't figured out what the above five albums have in common, it's because you a) cannot read or b) are mentally retarded, meaning you can't read anyway. All of the above are rock operas, musicals, concept albums, whatever you want to call them. Tommy centered on a blind, deaf, and dumb boy who "led a messianic movement" (thanks Wikipedia). The Wall told the wrenching story of Pink. Operation: Mindcrime did something else, The Black Parade's classic rock-beefed musical focused on a dying cancer patient reflecting on his life, and Wonderland took you through the streets of lies, deceit, and corporate greed in the imaginary city of Wonderland.

Thomas Dutton has taken the rock opera idea of these albums and blown it into something of grandiose proportions for his new musical, Razia's Shadow.


This guy just compared Forgive Durden to The Wall and Tommy. This is the same person who showed off Brand New's Deja Entendu like a shiny new toy until everyone finally took the five minutes to listen to it and strike it down. The same person who called Dark Side of the Moon one of the most overrated albums in history. Yep, that guy.

Don't leave. Please. This will be different. I promise.

Forgive Durden is not a punk artist. Forgive Durden is not an emo bitch whining about his last failed relationship. Thomas Dutton is an entrepreneur of music, combining ridiculously far-reaching styles and genres of music into a unique, highly recognizable sound. If you don't like him, you damn well better cite his hate it/love it voice and nothing else, because this man truly is a genius at composition.


Razia's Shadow doesn't point out any revolutionary truths or question any societal beliefs. It doesn't break any boundaries or smash down any walls of lyrical conformity. It's a genuine musical, with epic scores of horns, strings, timpani drums, and cheesy lyrics.

Why is this a masterpiece, you say? The instrumentation is brilliant. A lover of any genre would be hard pressed to challenge this aspect of the hour long record. Every flute, every violin, every organ is right in its perfect place at every moment. The narration points between songs contain some of the coolest background instrumentation I've ever heard.

But that's not the kicker. The kicker is this:
Dutton the Mastermind signed on a different vocalist to play each character in the entire musical. Now, most of this reading audience probably won't recognize many of these names. Let me assure you, though, that nearly all of these names are highly respected names in the modern music scene. The ones that aren't make up for it with amazing vocal abilities.

No noted rock musicals have achieved this level of awesomeness. Many of these singers have ridiculously insane voices (Aaron Weiss [the white Morgan Freeman], Chris Conley, Greta Salpeter, Shawn Harris, Thomas Dutton) that do nothing except make the aesthetic even more dramatic.

I won't kill your next half hour with a track by track review, but the story line features two main parts, starring heroes, damsels, angels, light v. dark, and prophecies.

Part One centers on an angel, Ahrima, who shapes the world, but feels his powers are wasted by his father on trivial tasks that don't show off his full potential. In order to be noticed by his fellow angels, he creates giant, extraordinary lamps to light the world, and is met by lukewarm responses of jealousy. In spite, he is convinced by Barayas the Spider to smash the lamps and burn the world he's created. Once the earth is aflame, Ahrima is banished to his desecrated land (the Dark) while the survivors find a new place to begin existence (the Light). In doing so, he is eternally barred from his love, Nidria.

Part Two occurs much, much later in the world's history. Adakias, an inhabitant of the Dark region of the world, is shunned for believing in stories of angels and prophecies. Confident in his beliefs, he leaves the Dark world to fulfill the prophecy, meet his true love (Princess Anhura), and recombine the two worlds into one.

Corny? Yup. But it's unbelievably well done. By track 3, I was engrossed in the story line. The lyrics are pretty straightforward in order to clearly convey the story line, just as in a regular musical. In between songs, Razia features the narrative stylings of Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou, whose voice sounds like peanut butter mixed with velvet. By track 13, I was riveted to my seat, waiting for the conclusion. The Airborne Toxic Event may be one of my personal favorite albums of all time, but come December, I might have to hand it off to Razia's Shadow as Album of the Year.

Check it.

--> Cardsox


Mac said...

Okay, I'm definitely interested in this.

Mac said...

And really, no one reading this would know you were "that guy" who downplayed Dark Side of the Moon or tried to sell Deja Entendu as the best album ever. lqtm.

Chrono said...

I like corny stuff. I'll give this a look-see and a listen-hear...

Robert Langellier said...

Mac, aren't most/all of the readers of this blog Atrooites?

Mac said...

Can you give me this over AIM, Rob/Cardsy?

Robert Langellier said...

If you were ever ON AIM, I would. But I never see you.