Season of Dreams – My Shelter Review

If you build it, they will come. Oh wait. That’s Field of Dreams. Either way, that was really the intent that Season of Dreams founder Jean-Michel Volz had for his new project. The Frenchman wanted to take his compositional experience and use it to form a band that channeled the greatest aspects from both heavy and power metals. Volz began building, and they eventually came. Vocalist and keyboardist Johannes Nyberg and soloing guitarist John Nyberg, both formerly of Swedish Symphony X-filers Zonata, joined forces with Volz, who handles all other instrumental and songwriting duties. Together, they’ve created an hour-long adventure that appears to be a concept album about the effects of war upon the most vulnerable. Will this adventure live up to the band’s grand name, or is it the stuff of nightmares?

Almost exclusively the latter, unfortunately. Season of Dreams is shooting for a symphonic progressive power metal akin to a mixture of Rhapsody and 1990’s Symphony X. My Shelter lands almost like a purposely humorous parody of said bands — imagine Gloryhammer, but instead of using all of the best elements of their influences to create an enjoyable and fun iteration of the style, they took all the potentially irritating aspects of symphonic prog/power and turned them all to ’11’ simultaneously. Distractingly cheesy and overly-dramatic ESL lyrics are backed by layers of off-key wails while the instrumental tracks seem to have a hard time staying in time together. The worst part is that these guys are obviously talented. Johannes Nyberg has a great timbre for the style and the other Nyberg and Volz have guitar chops, but the way all of the elements are combined together results in a complete mishmash of mostly unremarkable noise.

Given the genre, My Shelter simply had to have a two-minute intro and a two-minute outro. Outro “After the War” is actually very nice and includes some beautiful piano from Johannes. The track is aptly named, the keys ushering in the feeling of sweet relief as another painful listen comes to a close and my time in the trenches is done. Intro “Before the War” is benign, but it leads right into the album’s first cringefest, “In the Rubble.” The individual instrumental performances are actually decent, but there seems to be something wrong with the way they were arranged and it just doesn’t feel right. There are moments that are obviously meant to be meaningful crescendos, but every single one falls flat, especially the repeating, vibrato-soaked line, “In the rubble, they will find your teddy bear!” The embedded title track has some cool guitar lines and a good solo, and in general ends up being one of the least-flawed tracks on My Shelter. Still, Johannes tends to over-sing everything and “My Shelter” is no exception. The layered vocals and the forced, lingering vibrato are incredibly grating here and just about everywhere else on the album.

The production is severely flawed on My Shelter. The drums are right in your face, but also seem out of sync with the music much of the time. The guitar tone is actually quite nice when it isn’t totally buried by an incredibly muddled mix. I’ve already mentioned the vocal layering, and Rhapsodic ballad “United” is the most egregious example with its terrible, terrible background vocals and the ESL gem “how could I resist to your pretty smile?” The production severely hamstrings the already ailing songs, with tracks like “Monsters” sounding like two separate versions of Trans-Siberian Orchestra are both performing different songs at the same time. “Soldiers Without Command” is a D-tier Symphony X knockoff that made me crave the yellow and black attack of Stryper someone needs to get these soldiers under command! I don’t recommend that you listen to a single moment of this album other than the short outro with its pretty piano.

Holy shit! I’m already at the last paragraph. This thing seriously wrote itself! I’ll be honest — I only listened to this promo four full times, which is definitely on the low end for my review style. But I seriously began to worry for my mental health if I pushed forward with even one more spin.1 Season of Dreams is seriously talented in the individual musician department, but the package they’ve produced together is just not good in so many ways. They may have built it, but I will not be coming.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Pride and Joy Music
Releases Worldwide: August 14th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Looks like I found the new mood music for the n00b detainment area. – Steel
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