Outshine – The Awakening – Album Review

Artist: Outshine

Album Title: The Awakening

Label: Rockshots Records

Date of Release: 13 May 2022

Overtly Gothic-sounding music is not normally something that I gravitate towards. Within my collection, I have plenty of material by the likes of Type O Negative and Paradise Lost, but then who doesn’t? That aside though, my quota of Goth rock/metal is pretty sparce to say the least. However, taken by the stark black and white cover artwork that adorns ‘The Awakening’, the fifth album from Outshine, and because I generally trust the music that comes from the Rockshots Records stable of late, I thought I’d give it a cursory listen at least.

Formed in Sweden in 2007, Outshine is predominantly a duo, featuring Jimmy Boman on guitars and vocals alongside bassist Niklas Ingvarsson, with other instruments performed by guests as required. They do reference Paradise Lost and Type O Negative as influences, but the press release also namechecks the likes of HIM and Sisters Of Mercy, bands with which I am far less familiar. Nevertheless, from what I do know, these are reasonable comparisons and influences to name, because the music here does have a hefty Gothic edge to it.

Predominantly, the Goth sheen comes from the vocal delivery from Boman, who has that rich, deep croon down to a tee. But that’s not all, because the music itself is generally a mid-tempo, with chunky riffs that straddle the rock and metal spheres, whilst each of the compositions is literally bathed in rich, dark, atmospheric synths and the classic tinkling of piano keys. I have to be really in the mood to enjoy this kind of thing, but there is one big ingredient in the favour of Outshine -the guitar tone. At one point of another in each of the songs, there is a note or three that is so deep, heavy, and resonant that I can’t resist it. Often it is accompanied by the rumbling bass to accentuate its heaviness and accompanied by strong atmospheres, but when it arrives, it makes me smile.

The other ingredient that works in Outshine’s favour is their ability to write songs that are catchy and melodic to a point where any misgivings seem to be a little mealy-mouthed. Not every one of the eight songs is a dead-set winner, but there is plenty enough throughout ‘The Awakening’ to ensure that my overall impression is one of positivity and enjoyment. Add to this a lyrical content that doesn’t just peddle the usual Gothic tropes, but instead explores the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the music industry and the effect of the ruling elite on society as a whole – it’s all just a little different, and I like that.

It helps that the first song on the album, ‘It’s All Lies’ is a bit of a belter. At over seven minutes in length, it opens with some bold synths and piano notes which take their time to resolve into the central melody of the song. The mid-era ‘Draconian Times’ Paradise Lost influences loom large, but when that guitar tone enters, I’m not really thinking of much except, ‘heck, that’s a nice sound’. From there, we get the ubiquitous synth-drenched chugging riffs whilst Boman explores thoughts about whether the media and the ruling elite can be trusted in the modern age. The closing sequence is suitably rousing and anthemic in nature too, rounding off a great opening composition.

The electronic sounds are fairly bold at the beginning of ‘Our Misery’, a shorter track that’s generally much quieter than its predecessor. There are some big riffs, but the verses are more stripped back, focusing on the vocals and melancholy atmosphere. ‘Love Is Dead’ then brings out the Type O Negative worship just a little more, with an altogether creepier tone to begin with. However, when the more opulent orchestration and piano notes kick in, followed by a strong, catchy chorus, the immediate similarities remain but are less immediate. At the end of the day, it’s just another strong, memorable composition that works to its strengths very well indeed.

Despite being a fairly consistent album in terms of quality, there are a couple of tracks that I’m less enamoured with, such as ‘Swe Hates Me’, or ‘No More Reasons’, even if the former is heavily influenced by Type O. For some reason, it just doesn’t have the same level of magic despite featuring some of the heaviest guitar notes on the album.

All is forgiven though with the introduction of the best song on ‘The Awakening’, which arrives in the shape of ‘Darkness Within’. For my money, it is the most sombre and melancholy of all the songs, which is saying a lot to be honest. It combines the misery with strong melodies, beautiful atmospheres, a killer chorus and stark lyrics, such as ‘It’ll be all over soon enough, you won’t feel a thing, this I promise you. I am the one you turned your back on’, which really have an effect on me.

In a nice moment of symmetry, the final track is another seven-minute track, ‘We Know Who You Are’, thus bookending ‘The Awakening’ with slightly longer compositions. It isn’t quite as powerful as the opener as far as I’m concerned, but I do love the final stages where you think the song has died in a sea of static, only to be resurrected via a moody orchestral section that has a vague Cradle Of Filth interlude quality to it, complete with ominous whispered vocals that see the album to a dark, uneasy end.

As I said earlier, this wouldn’t normally be high on my list of musical choices. However, because of the quality of the song writing and the performances, ‘The Awakening’ by Outshine is a really nice listen, with lots of ingredients that make it a record that I like returning to on a regular basis. It all means that if you’re partial to a spot of Gothic rock/metal, then I have no hesitation in recommending that you wrap your ears around this record at your earliest convenience.

The Score of Much Metal: 80%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones

Zero Hour – Agenda 21

Scitalis – Doomed Before Time

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability

Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

OU – One

Haunter – Discarnate Ails

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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