Lunatic Soul – “Through Shaded Woods” album review

16 10 2020

Lunatic Soul release their new album Through Shaded Woods on KScope on 13 November 2020, on single CD, limited double CD and vinyl.

Lunatic Soul is the solo studio project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mariusz Duda (Riverside). Album number seven Through Shaded Woods explores the darkness of Slavic and Scandinavian folk.

Previous Lunatic Soul albums have been very electronic affairs. Through Shaded Woods is a virtually electronic free zone, with more acoustic and electric guitars than previous releases and for the first time, Duda plays all the instruments.

Through Shaded Woods opens with the hypnotising and trancelike Navvie, an upbeat and rousing call to arms that conjures up “the souls of the dead” and along with several tracks on the album, signals a feeling of rebirth and positivity. Not a bad feeling in these strange times we are currently living through.

The second longest track on the album, The Passage, is one of the most rewarding tracks as you journey Through Shaded Woods. This is the darkest Duda gets on the album, with a piece that starts off relatively bright and sparse, working towards the razor-sharp dark metal riffs that propel the powerful middle section.

“I’m thinking out loud
passing former gods
turned into trees
am I in the real life
or am I in the realm of make-believe”

The riffs fall away quickly but the tempo remains high on one of the strongest tracks on the album.

The title track twists and turns, with light percussion underneath the trademark Lunatic Soul harmonies and a feeling of paranoia, amplified by the heavily processed lead vocal. Lycanthropy lingers in the dark forests of Duda’s lyric.

“eyes on every corner
shining in the dark”

As we hit the half-way mark, the mood of Through Shaded Woods lifts. Oblivion has a wonderful drum and guitar interplay, as melodies sneak in and out of the intriguing rhythm arrangement. Where previously synths would have laid the textures, on this album the same effect is offered by vocal layers.

Summoning Dance is the longest track, and as throughout the whole album, it offers up its secrets over repeated plays. The guitars give the main rhythmic thrust, underpinned by a simple kick pulse. I dare you to keep still whilst listening to Summoning Dance. The music hints at a simpler, more pagan and earth-connected time, and works so much better if you give your full attention and immerse yourself in the performance.

“so why do I feel
like I already failed”

Photo: Tomasz Pulsakowski

The Fountain features one of my favourite Mariusz Duda vocal performances. There is a real lightness of touch, and a lovely slightly rasping timbre that suits the aching melancholy of the song perfectly.

“stream of sounds
wash away the darkness from my soul”

Through Shaded Woods stands alone in the Lunatic Soul catalogue. It works so well as a complete body of work, as it flows with more consistency than previous albums. It has quickly seeped into my soul and is one of my favourite albums of 2020.

Navvie [04:03]
The Passage
[08:57]
Through Shaded Woods
[05:51]
Oblivion
[05:03]
Summoning Dance
[09:52]
The Fountain
[06:04]

Bonus tracks contained on disc 2 of the Limited Edition CD:

Vyraj [05:32]
Hylophobia
[03:20]
Transition II
[27:45]


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