Deep Shades


It might turn just confounding but not necessarily misleading for the Austrians of SAVANAH to […]
By Vladimir "Abir" Leonov
October 20, 2015
Savanah - Deep Shades album cover

It might turn just confounding but not necessarily misleading for the Austrians of SAVANAH to present themselves as a stoner Rock trio, for in plain sight and in many instances, not knowing may pay off better than knowing. And as for the case of the fresh start of the Graz-based band epitomized in the hereby EP titled "Deep Shades", it's substantially revolving around the fervor of a state of mind. Call it what you want, I call it massiveness of the beat rather than anything else, be it psychedelic, acid rock or whatsoever. Because thing is, it does blow your ears as so much modern, in the vicinity of a post-rock album while the lion's share of its allure actually hinges on old but new formulas.

While I always tend to have more or less reservation when the track-list takes on with the eponymous track (for reasons I have yet to decipher), "Deep Shades" is another excellent example to ditch such a tic. As the thereabouts riff-based structure hardly resists the temptation of bluesy scales, both the bass and guitar melt down into co- playing the main riff on a par, accordingly giving the impression of an arcane bond between the instruments, bordering mind-reading. Take the instance of the mentioned track's verse, gracefully ceding room to the vocals in a way that is bound to add extra value to any melodies to be inserted. That said, although the very first impression of the vocalist may not exceed average, he does leave a trace sticking to your mind along the EP but whether his voice suits rock better than crooning is another topic. Either way, even with the production - that plays a partial role in it - put aside, the originality of the emotional load it carries is unquestionable, yet I didn't really miss the vocals at least during the first half of the track-list, for the melodies aren't that thing when just miming the main riff while all instruments keep flowing in harmony except the vocals, distant and under-invested at times; as such a minimalist genre can afford no honorary member.

It comes off in sheer straightforwardness patently inspired by a once forgotten psychedelic spirit unfolding into well-differentiated instruments driven by a crystal clear bass line not only playing main riffs alongside the guitar, but also thumping i synchronicity with your heartbeats. Nonetheless, successive listens just reveal to what extent it was tediously reproducing the same ideas till you barely notice any real difference in such a fluent component throughout the five tracks; for in point of fact when you are in lead, you can't be just assuring what it takes to survive but actually prove why you are there in the first place. Likewise regarding the scales: acid to the highest conceivable inducing a trance state, however no matter how diverse the riffs are (and they genuinely are), the impression of one sole track fragmented to several parts and seemingly written from alpha to omega by the same member wouldn't be as tempting as experimenting and bettering one's best.  Even what looks on paper as a qualitatively different twist in "Endless Sleep" was quantitatively far from it, add to it lower creativity as the riff turns tiresome to listen to, prompting me to question why they didn't have decompressed it a bit when they for sure could. Taken as a whole, in spite of such a mishap scale-wise, the riffs are - more often than not - a  shot provided the band doesn't persistently dwell on the same ideas, something better to be avoided on eventual upcoming releases.

One main asset of the "Deep Shades" is undoubtedly the lead guitar freely experimenting on effects with the passion of a kid in candy shop. In fact, the jazz guitar effect in "Painful Illusions" coupled with the pick sound on the bass generates that calm staccato which discharges tension as well as needless padding all over the track into matchless stillness, in a va et vient between both. I can't stress enough on the low tempo doesn't automatically convey tranquility: actually quite the reverse, for the beat just takes full-time to resound and magnify mostly owing to the echo effect and checking the solo gets you a clear-cut preview for the result: basic solos yet sturdy enough to lead to the conjecture that the more instrumental the EP gets, the far better.

Not meaning there's much going on a technical scale, so the bet has been placed on the mood instead. Even so, the myriad advantages of the more spaced low tempo enables the lead guitarist to brag about what he's got (for real); let's mention in that context the better solo, the supple arpeggios and mostly the playfulness of the clean and the jazzy tones in the funkier "Magellanic Clouds" with its more involved drums yet all revolving around the guitars shifting on/off. Moreover concerning effects, a wah-wah dash further takes off in "Blue Reality" which comes across as a free-style track with the long improvisation on a pre-fixed boogie-like backbone. A classy epilogue for the EP, to say the least.

"Deep Shades" is a definitely promising debut for these fellows, they can at least chill out a bit for the moment as a warrior's rest, provided that they make up for the few already mentioned loopholes within. Still, the bigger picture of this EP puts the most emphasis on the mastering of effects thus making the production a crucial part, rather than similar genres in which the live-like sound fits better. Paradoxically, the distinctive easiness reigning on "Deep Shades" puts across no signs of incapacity or comfort seeking to curb the risk to play sloppy on stage. It's just about a delightful crude beat expecting proper deployment as soon as chances pop up.

6 / 10

Had Potential

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"Deep Shades" Track-listing:

1. Deep Shades
2. Painful Illusions
3. Magellanic Clouds
4. Endless Sleep
5. Blue Reality

Savanah Lineup:

Felix Thalhammer

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