Drifting Sun | Safe Asylum
Release Year: 2016
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal
Peter Falconer – Vocals
Dan Storey – Guitars
Pat Sanders – Keyboards
Manu Michael – Bass
Will Jones – Drums
Take a part of Subsignal, a part of Sieges Even, two parts Marillion , a squeeze of IQ , Kino and Jadis and you have the recipe for the United Kingdom’s own Drifting Sun. A band that started in the early 1990’s when progressive rock and metal was getting a second wind off the likes Dream Theater, SymphonyX, Vanden Plas and Threshold, the band have stayed primarily independent their entire tenure. With a handful of major projects, singles and EP’s styled releases under their belt, Drifting Sun have returned in 2016 with their newest release Safe Asylum.
While some progressive music has gone entirely metal, djent, into death metal realms, Drifting Sun have decided to go back to fundamental progressive hard rock that has seemed to hold the story of progressive music together. Coming from the country that gave birth to the progressive rock world in the United Kingdom in keeping the band grounded I believe. This is a band that gives the appearance of a independent spirit as they are self financed and distributed.
This album does require a thorough full listen in the beginning. The band do not come out of the chute if you will with over the top virtuosity. Drifting Sun are a more total song structured band. The first two tracks King of Hearts and The Hidden Truth require some patience. The patience given to Safe Asylum is rewarded as every track improves and gets more and more unpredictable as the project progresses. Things get really going around the third track Intruder, which is where I will begin my further analysis of Safe Asylum.
Intruder opens up with a lush cinematic and atmospheric keyboard that is soon met with a steady rhythmic section. A spoken word portion is met in there until the main melodic vocal comes in. The vocal reminds me a lot of Marillion’s Fish meets Sieges Even’s Arno Menses now of Subsignal. The rhythm and melodies are almost like a soundtrack to either film or television. The Keyboard really has a heavily neo-progressive accent on it much in the vein as their contemporaries in America Enchant. Towards the middle of the track to the end it takes a more progressive ambient metal turn much like early 1990’s Fates Warning.
Alice begins with a great acoustic guitar passage met with a lush full piano to round out a great stringed intro. Soon the high vocal comes in with almost a melodic story. Between the stringed section and the vocal there is clarity of sound. Alice is more of a ballad for Safe Asylum. There is even a nice violin almost in the vein of Dust In The Wind by Kansas.
Wonderland begins with a subtle and full keyboard led stringed section. Soon the drums come in more as a percussive instrument in the underlying area of the stringed section. The drums soon kick in with the bass for a more traditional rhythmic section. Lyrically the vocals interchange in and out with some vocal solo’s met with full vocal harmonies. Wonderland reminds me a lot of Easter from Marillion. The track takes a more aggressive approach in both the instrumental melody and vocal harmony in the middle. Wonderland also showcases a very distinct and deliberate guitar solo more then the tracks leading up to it. About the 6:30 mark the bands elemental sound is a little like Dream Theater’s Voices from Awake.
Gods starts out with a nice tight acoustic guitar intro that is soon met with a very tight vocal harmony. The vocal harmony in almost like a mini choir. It has many backing vocal effects that run with the main vocal. One subtle moment you are moved by a deep rhythm section between bass/drum. There is some innocence about this track with the baby vocal effects as well. The flute simulation towards the end presents a full instrumental outro.
Desolation begins once again with a heavy keyboard passage that is met by a more traditional progressive rock passage as the guitar, bass and drums come in. The vocal’s once again have a dynamic where they interchange from a single led vocal to a more choral vocal. Desolation also has a guitar solo that sounds more like a vocal at time than a instrument.
Retribution starts out with a deep drum/bass rhythm section. This is a more dark track with the tuned down rhythm guitar and Hammond style organ. This is a very up tempo track with many unpredictable riffs and time signatures. This is a more Deep Purple meets Yes track here. There are some great vocal harmonies within the track as well.
Emphasis is a short 1:12 track more like a extended segue into the last and final track Vegabond. This track is one guitar solo basically.
Vegabond starts out with a light piano melody. Soon the guitar kicks in as well as the drums to fill the track in. The guitar is more of a solo style compared to a rhythmic one. Vegabond is a full instrumental that finishes Safe Asylum.
Although it takes some time and patience Drifting Sun’s Safe Asylum finds a way to get on point. This is a album for the progressive purist. If you are one of those listeners that only listen for a few songs, Safe Asylum is not for you. If you are a album oriented listener that listen’s to the entire album than this is a album worthy of consideration. I give this a 4/5.
by Robert Brady