Ever since the self-titled debut album of Shumaun in 2015 (see review) I have been astonished about this band. The great progressive, though catchy compositions. Wonderful instrumentalization and on top of it all, the amazing vocals. For their third album; Memories & Intuition, the band again asked a number of musicians to participate. As on their debut, the drums are all played by guest musicians, so alongside vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player Farhad Hossain, guitarist Tyler Kim and bass player Jose Mora we can enjoy the likes of well-known drummers Thomas Lang, Atma Anur, Mark Zonder, Leo Margarit and the for me unknown Chris DeChiara. Tanvil Tomal the sole drummer on the band's second album One Day Closer To Yesterday (2019, see review) remains Shumaun's live drummer.
I think this third album shows the band is not afraid to experiment, although the majority of the music present on the album, are brilliant progressive compositions, Shumaun definitely has been expanding their musical influences, resulting in more catchiness, subtle hints of oriental music and for sure an album that probably should gain new followers, also outside the progressive scene. Take the wonderful opener; A Subtle Invocation, a heavy progressive composition, filled with thorough drumming of former Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder, which perfectly combines with the dedicated riffs and the immaculate voice of Farhad. The following Prisoners is smoother; the acoustic guitars, accessible but typical Farhad vocal lines should be able to widen their audience as I wrote about above. Like the previous track, Memories Of Water, is catchy with a fairly simple, but solid guitar riff. One that sticks and perhaps can be recognized as a typical Shumaun composition. For me it's the combination of this effective riff and committed vocal lines that makes it a Shumaun/Farhad composition. The subtle use of female voices during Jabriel's Song makes this instrumental song a special one, with dedicated guitar parts and soloing of both Tyler and Farhad. Invincible is one the longest compositions on the album, a fine progressive track, with numerous oriental references, which nicely flow into a powerful riff and passionate vocals. The brilliant guitar solo tops off this majestic track. Under The Sun could really appeal to the progressive aficionado, fine vocal lines and a wonderful bass line form the base for this tune. Although the neo progressive elements are present, the heavier parts, including Pain Of Salvation's Leo Margarit's recognizable drumming rule and even alternative elements are embedded in this beautiful track. When a band is going “out of the box” it definitely means this song will grab my complete attention, The Pursuit Of Happiness is one of those songs. this track is a complete showcase for the instrumentalists, including a perfect Atma Anur on drums. Instrumental progressiveness combines with jazz rock and fusion and parts reminding me of Rush (bass) and Fates Warning (guitars). In the end, a brilliant combination of musical styles I like. Did I mention, this is an instrumental? Well, it is. This is one of those tracks where you don't even miss the vocals. Another step in another direction; Tides almost has an European feel to me, RPWL comes to mind as well as some of the top progressive rock bands from the UK. Tides has a more modest feel and is based on fine piano parts and effective drumming. Wow, the old school riffs of Intuition Underground take you back in time, elements of Budgie are combined with Led Zeppelin and early Rush. I totally love the guitar parts of this one! Powerhouse drummer Thomas Lang shines on the nine minutes lasting melodramatic epic Breathing Light. I love the combination of his drumming together with Jose's bass playing. Alongside the enthusiastic vocal parts, hints of Rush pass by during the drum/bass parts, but all in all, this is something completely different. The majestic soloing Iron Maiden / Dream Theater style tops this great track off. A Planetary Shift is a really nice smooth composition, a kind of ballad so to say. Showing the emotional side of the band, in perhaps the most beautiful vocals of the album. The final piece of the album is a kind of mesmerizing soundscape style composition. The Day We Said Goodbye shows smooth keyboards that lead the way for a delicate guitar solo and Katatonia reminding soft vocal parts.
Jeez, what a hell of a ride. When Farhad told me this new album was more poppy than the previous ones, I could not predict where Memories & Intuition was going. But after several listening sessions, for me the album title definitely is spot on, the whole album is a catchy time machine. It combines the typical Shumaun elements with progressive memories from the past. But always drawn into the modern age, well played and definitely full of variations. For sure, another five star album for me.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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