Rain Fell Within - Refuge

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Dark Symphonies
Catalog Number: Dark16
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:35:00

Rain Fell Within's Refuge doesn't hesitate to get started, as from the second the laser first reads the disc (or so it seems) the high, operatic vocals of Dawn begin over a churning background of Tim on drums and percussion, Charles on fretless bass, and both Kevin and Jason on guitars (Dawn also plays the keys here). It is a beautifully lush album and Dawn has an amazing voice. Dawn sings "away up there" throughout, which is not easy to do... and left me feeling rather anxious... that is, it's like if you held your breath waiting for whatever is going to happen, and you are frozen in that state.

Rain Fell Within hail from Virginia, and Refuge is their first full length album, following on the heels of Solemn Days (1998 demo) and Believe, their 1999 EP. Of the album's 10 tracks, my favourite is "Sirens," which comes in at track 8. Is it no small irony, that? I mean, sirens lure sailors off their course (as happened to Odysseus), luring them inland to their doom. Well, this is a track that has lured me into the album... mainly because it is the perfect synthesis of what the band are trying to do with this album. You've got the layered vocals of Dawn, here the lower (yet still high) vocals intertwined with the higher (very high) vocals, while the instrumentation pounds and throbs and beats underneath, the keyboards giving everything this wonderful haze, and tinkling accent. The balance between all the elements is near perfect. They almost get it right with "The Child Beneath," too, which is vocally structured similiarly. Dawn, the backing vocalist, is just a little too much forward in the mix, though, crossing over Dawn, the lead vocalist, too much. However, because this is low key piece with a gorgeous arrangement - love the piano -- there are opportunities for Dawn to show the richness of her voice. I wish the whole album was more like this (with the backing vox mixed back a bit -- something to think about with their follow-up). Equally close to perfect is "Passing Time," which ends the album. Like "The Child Beneath" this puts piano (keys) in the forefront. Here Dawn shares vocals with Laurie to very satisfying results. Well, to be honest, this track and "Sirens" are tied for my favourites, everything else lining up in behind.

Because she is singing in this ultra-high, ethereral way, the actual lyrics get lost. Without the lyrics, I wouldn't know what she was singing about... it very well could be "ah ah AH ah" throughout. The main lyrical themes are about the pain of ending relationships, relationships that mainly end through a betrayal of some variety. Someone's done Dawn wrong, but she's not just crawling off, licking her wounds. I mean, in a track like "Save Your Soul" there's some underlying menace in the lyrics, translated into the music (but not reflected in her vocals) -- where she sings "All of your life you have tried to make me miserable. There is no forgiveness here, and I will not forget. You'll burn in hell." Sung sweetly as it is, you know it's with a sharp knife thrust between the bastard's ribs.

About the music, since it's not just a vocals only album -- as I said, this is a lush mixture of symphonic and metal, as one might expect from a Dark Symphonies release. Frankly, my vocal quibbles aside, this ranks right up there with the very best that the label has to offer. I just love the music on this album. The rhythmic, percussive intro to "In My Dreams," for example, is very nice, very warm, very acoustic. This gives way to keyboards and chugging guitars. While it might be misleading to say so, I though just a bit of Marillion with the underlying rhythm to this track -- mid-90s Marillion, that is. And really just the atmospheric guitar interplay between Steve Rothery and Pete Trewavas. "Save Your Soul" is a different track from the rest, more quickly paced. The heavy percussive intro, quite different from "In My Dreams" which precedes it, gives this piece a driving rhythm ... almost dance and pop, but moves away from this rather quicky.

The instrumental "Winter's Embrace" replaces Dawn's vocals with howling wind effects, and I do mean replace because they are at about the same range, though differently toned. You want to know what it feels like to be in a very icy windstorm at the North Pole? I so feel the cold, dark night with this track, my teeth hurt.

So, what I'm telling you is GO GET THIS ALBUM. I think you'll love it as much as I do. If I gave out rating points, it'd get a 9.99 out 10. This is sure to be in the top ten for 2002.

['Course, now we do give out points - SS 11/2009]

Torn Apart (5:47) / In The Knowing of You (7:01) / The Child Beneath (4:35) / In My Dreams (7:39) / Save Your Soul (5:53) / Winter's Embrace (2:12) / Into The Tower (7:49) / Sirens (6:42) / Burned Away (6:21) / Passing Time (3:36)

Charles Gore - bass
Dawn Desireé- vocals, keyboard
Jason A Wood - guitar
Kevin Thomas - guitar
Laurie Ann Haus - vocals
Tim Miller - drums

Solemn Day (demo) (1998)
Believe (ep) (1999)
Refuge (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: June 26th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1285
Language: english


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