Artist: Our Destiny
Album Title: Awakening
Label: Our Destiny Records
Date of Release: 21 June 2019
The most difficult thing about getting back into writing and publishing reviews is actually choosing which albums to tackle first. I have fallen way behind and it’s a bit daunting to get back into the swing of things.
So, what I’ve chosen to do therefore, is write a series of smaller reviews to cover off some of the glaring omissions during 2019 thus far.
First up, because it might just be my most listened-to record of the past two months is this, the debut full-length from Our Destiny, entitled ‘Awakening’.
Our Destiny is actually just a duo, featuring Vikram Shankar and his real-life partner, Lauren Nolan. Vikram handles all of the instrumentation himself, whilst Nolan provides the vocals. ‘Awakening’ isn’t a metal album; hell, it’s not even a rock album per se. What it is, is a beautiful collection of songs that are part acoustic, part pop, part ambient, but completely seductive. There are undoubted hints of latter-day Anathema about it, although I also note touches of Daniel Tompkins’ Black Moth White Butterfly in places. Essentially though, this is 100% Shankar and Nolan.
What I love about ‘Awakening’ is the purity of it. Every note is carefully thought-out yet organic-sounding at the same time. The rich melodies both wash over you and burrow deep within your soul to never let go. The atmosphere is bitter-sweet in that the music feels uplifting and warm, yet strangely poignant, almost melancholy in places.
The record apparently tackles the subject of love and the effect that this strongest of emotions can have on us. For the most part, it is a celebration of the positivity of love and the way in which it can conquer most other human emotions; that in itself is a reason to listen to this impressive debut.
However, the music itself, which is enhanced with guest performances from vocalists Amanda Wilson and John Pyres (Threads of Fate) on a couple of songs, more than backs up the laudable subject matter on this record, such is its sophistication and elegance.
Shankar (Lux Terminus, Redemption, Shattered Skies) is best-known for his incredible piano playing, and rightly so for his ability frequently borders on genius. But with Our Destiny, he also handles guitar, bass, programming and arrangements duties; it’s incredible and nauseating at the same time, especially given the quality of the finished article which occasionally has a deceptively simple prog edge. It may not be evident on first listen, but it’s there, trust me, and becomes more apparent as time goes by.
Vikram’s delicate touch and feel on the keys is matched throughout by the breathtakingly beautiful vocals from Lauren Nolan. As sensitively and smoothly as she sings, her voice carries with it a certain brittleness and fragility, as if she may succumb to her emotions at any moment. She never does, but the drama within her performances are all the more captivating for it; she has the ability to draw you in with one single note and what’s more, you believe every word that she sings.
This record has been a constant companion to me on my work commutes from the quiet Suffolk countryside to the bustling capital city and back again. When all around me is frenetic, full-throttle and largely fake, ‘Awakening’ is the soundtrack to keep me calm, grounded and focused on those things that matter most: human contact, relationships and pure, unadulterated love. For that, I owe Vikram and Lauren a huge debt of gratitude.
The Score of Much Metal: 93%
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others from 2019:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: