CD REVIEW: DarWin 2 – A Frozen War

Who the heck is this?

I confess to having missed the first instalment totally, so just to get up to speed – DarWin is a progressive rock infused exploration into the future of humanity and the challenging world around us. Got that?

DarWin is songwriter and Simon Phillips is producer and they’ve brought in Matt Bissonette to complete the DarWin sound. But then just take a look at the mates they’ve brought in! Simon Phillips – drums (Toto / The Who / Jeff Beck), Matt Bissonette (Elton John, David Lee Roth, Ringo Starr), Billy Sheehan – bass (Mr Big / Steve Vai / Winery Dogs), Guthrie Govan – guitar (Aristocrats / Asia / Hans Zimmer / Steven Wilson), Greg Howe- guitar (Michael Jackson / Justin Timberlake), Derek Sherinian – keyboards (Dream Theater / Alice Cooper / Black Country Communion).

Impressive or what?

So, this is their second album and one that supplements and supports the themes of their debut with tracks building on their evolving sound – a generous amount of guitar shred and heavy grooves on display for the rock faithful who demand athletic performances.

DarWin himself says, “We started working on DarWin 2: A Frozen War while still finishing Origin of Species. This new album is therefore more like a final chapter to OoS. The title song “A Frozen War” represents the final battle for the future of Earth. It has a heavier feel than the first album, and I think represents our best stuff.

“We shifted live recording to Iceland and Billy Sheehan joined us on bass in the studio while Matt was often traveling with Elton John. We’re also joined on the album by Guthrie Govan, Greg Howe and Derek Sherinian doing killer leads, and many more players that are super exciting.”

On first listen I am impressed by the richness of the music, the vibrant and colourful production, the gorgeous textures within the music, the technically gifted and excellent instrumental musicianship, and the superb vocal melody and harmony lines. They draw on the best elements of modern symphonic progressive rock with a depth of vocal soundscapes and breadth of strong song-writing. The delightful solos enhance the melodic whole and there are no egos, but just a wholesome enjoyment. It’s as if Toto wanted to go prog metal and let themselves loose – well as much as they ever would. It is definitely a new lesson for other currents in the genre that you can be different (Portnoy and Morse, are you listening?). The five track album is a rock tour de force with melody, shredding, and orchestral flourish. And it leaves you in the best of positions – wanting more not waiting for the CD to end. I’ll keep my review similarly short.

Highly recommended.

Track Listing:

1. Nightmare of My Dreams

2. Future History

3. Eternal Life

4. A Frozen War

5. Another Year

Line-up:

DarWin – guitars, string arrangements

Simon Phillips – drums, percussion, keyboards

Matt Bissonette – vocals

Greg Howe – guitar

Billy Sheehan – bass

Guthrie Govan – guitar

Derek Sherinian – keyboards

Alex Sill – acoustic guitar

Jeff Babko – keyboards

Peter Nickalls – string arrangements

Reykjavik String Quartet: Helga Thora Bjorgvinsdottir – violin / Una Sveinbjarnardottir – violin / Thorunn Osk Marinosdottir – viola / Sigurdur Bjarki Gunnarsson – cello

https://darwin.is/music/

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