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EP Review: "Shadow Gallery" (2021) by Faithful Tragedy

The indie prog-rock project Faithful Tragedy released their first complied EP this year. The three-year-old band originated in Delhi: their work focuses on, according to the creators themselves, "poetic fusion of lyrics, soundscapes & video pot-rails which manage to create a psychedelic atmosphere around you."Their first EP Shadow Gallery is made up of four songs that create this atmosphere, with lyrics focused on themes that reflect upon the inner workings of the writers: melancholic and dark, but nicely portrayed.

1. Ineffable (11:49)

The opening track of the four-song single starts with a sample: a few lines from Game of Thrones' Tyrion Lannister. This short piece of speech sets up the gloomy atmosphere, followed by ambient noises which perpetuate this atmosphere further until the arpeggiated, calm guitar surfaces. A bit later, muffled and blurry vocals begin and accompany the instrumentation. Then, a period of sudden increase in the intensity of the instrumentation comes. The periods of intensification seem to have small issues with timing; however, the problems are only noticeable when these parts first kick in. These two sides, "intense" and "mellow," keep interchanging throughout, establishing the meat and bones of the song. The track includes two long-winded, well-written guitar solos; one calm and the other chaotic and noisy, which arguably develop the "intense" and "mellow" sides. The song successfully creates a dark atmosphere and creates a sense of motion by utilizing song structure, effectively intensifying and deescalating the tension periodically.

2. Monochromatic Lullaby (7:13)

Monochromatic Lullaby starts with a simple guitar melody and is quickly joined by soft, mellow vocals. The vocals and the melody are noticeably dissonant at times, creating a satisfying discomfort in the listener's ears. There are bursts of wah-like throughout the body of the song, which further enhance the feeling of discomfort. Like the previous track, this song has two discrete guitar parts: a delay-infused acoustic part and a more traditional, distorted solo. The song, living up to its name, does a good job at creating a lullaby-like sound, whilst embracing and integrating the tense and discomforting aspects of the song.

3. Moon Spell (4:36)

The third track starts off with ominous sound effects: the entrance of the electric guitar and percussions near the thirty-second mark set the tone of the song. The bass is also added to the melody, and gradually, the song becomes more layered. A sudden shift puts two different electric guitar riffs on the spotlight, one constantly repeating in the background. The overall atmosphere created by constant change and repetitive riffs is quite eerie, and the addition of vocal excerpts only embellishes it. The electric guitar that enters, in the beginning, is the only non-changing element, and it does a good job of soloing through the whole song. This track may perhaps be the most successful out of the four songs.

4. Swings (5:14)

The final track, like the first two, starts with an arpeggiated guitar part and is soon accompanied by mellow yet tense vocals. In that sense, the track is thematically consistent with the others. But this track is not like the rest, in the sense that the drums seem to be incompatible and the track itself lacks coherency. The layers by themselves may be fine, but they seem to lack togetherness once mixed. There seems to be no overarching idea and this confuses the listener. Unfortunately, this track is a bit hard to listen to: maybe taking out the vocals and better aligning the layers may improve the song, but we think that it needs more work.

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