Driven by a single artist who has gathered a rich band of musicians around him, the core standard instruments are fleshed out by piano, violins, and no fewer than four vocalists.
The album has a sound and style that’s atypical and refuses to be easily captured by inadequate words. A genre tag of progressive metal/rock is probably the most appropriate, but Dawnwalker are more wide-ranging than usual within this; more progressive in their sound, if you will. The promo blurb describes it as “as something akin to the lovechild of Opeth and Kate Bush”, which isn’t a bad place to approach House of Sand from. I’d add to this a nod to Crippled Black Phoenix, which is the band that Dawnwalker are most reminiscent of to me, in feel, if not always in style.
A range of inventive and creative ideas can be found across the album’s 43 minutes. The band’s musical framework is enhanced with a variety of elements and influences, leading to a diverse, emotive, and engaging record. The album feels like a record from the 60s or 70s that has been updated with contemporary influences and sounds.
The music is frequently dreamy and luscious, but has a clear dark undercurrent. In places the darkness rears up to the surface, crowned in malevolent glory for all to see, whereas at other times it simply lurks beneath a veneer of respectability. Much of the songwriting is exquisitely rendered, and much will stay in your head for a lot longer than you might expect.
House of Sand is a beautifully melancholic work. It blends a variety of eras of progressive rock and metal together into a well-realised and well-executed whole. Dawnwalker have impressed, and House of Sand is compelling and accomplished.
Very highly recommended.