Rising Sunset – Equinox

May 2, 2012 in Reviews by blackwindmetal

Rising Sunset

First impressions are not always accurate.  In fact, sometimes even second or third impressions can throw us off before our perceptions of things finally coalesce into a solid image, opinion, or reaction to something.  Such was the case with Malta’s Rising Sunset.

Initially discovering this symphonic metal sextet from Gzira on the south east cost of that tiny island nation through Facebook.  There was a song of theirs posted somewhere that I really liked, prompting me to contact the band and request a promo CD.  Rather rapidly, one arrived (shocking given the Canadian postal system), and upon opening it I looked at the cover and wondered what I had walked into.  Is that really Jesus in a fuschia shawl?  I thought I was going to be hearing folk-tinged symphonic metal, because the song I heard had folk-ish sounding violins in it and a mythological theme. (In retrospect, I realized the song I’d heard via Facebook was either “Immortal Devotion”, which is about an Egyptian myth, or “Emperor Of The North”, which is about Aethelred, a Saxon king.)

Well, my first impression was wrong.  My second impression, upon spinning the CD once, with lyrics, was that this is very Christian-oriented band with a heavy-handed message.  “Hidden Voice”, for instance, the second track, is clearly an anti-abortion song in my interpretation.  Two other songs are praising Jesus (so yes, that is Jesus on the cover) and another, the final track, “Parousia” seems to be about Armageddon, complete with artwork that looks like it was torn from the book of Revelations.  Two songs, the opener “Human Frailty”, and  one of the songs about Jesus, “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” have lyrics right from the bible.

At this point I had to put the CD aside for a while and think about it, because I like to keep religion out of my music unless I’m at church.  “Hidden Voice” made me very squirmy in particular, because I also like my metal to not push any touchy political buttons over an emotionally charged subject like abortion.

But I was committed to writing a review of Equinox, especially as the band was so kind to send me a promo and because I am committed to promoting obscure bands from tiny countries like Malta, no matter what political or religious bent they might have. So, on spin number five, this CD finally gelled with me.  In order to give it a fair shake, I had to divorce myself from most of the lyrical content because it’s not my cup of tea at all.

What’s left behind is some pretty freaking amazing symphonic metal, however, featuring heavily the violin performance of Oriella Casha, which, as I said, lends this release a very folky atmosphere.  I enjoyed that about it a lot.  Rising Sunset’s sound also incorporates prog elements with frequent time changes and an eschewing of the typical verse-chorus-verse song structure and the usual hookiness of symphonic power metal.  The music is excellently composed, complex, and epic.  The guitar performances of co-founder Carlo Clamatta (husband of vocalist Christa Calamatta) and Mario Camilleri Brennan are strong, tight, and impressive.

The 8-track CD includes an instrumental piece called “Opus VII” which I have to say was a big highlight of the album.  It really shows off the guitar prowess of Carlo and Mario, and is basically a four-minute long guitar solo.  It’s fantastic.

The performance of classical vocalist Christa Calamatta (who also writes the lyrics) shows that she is a very talented singer, with one hell of a range.  There are points when I found her delivery overly melodramatic and a bit forced, though, and her English is heavily accented, but overall, she has a ton of power.

Rising Sunset has been around since 2001, and have previously released an EP entitled “Rhema”, which I have not yet heard.  After several listens to Equinox, I can really appreciate the band’s musicianship and many obvious talents, and I wish them all the best in the tough Maltese music scene.

Allyson’s rating: 3.0 out of 5