Outshine – The Awakening (Album Review)

Release Date: May 13th 2022 - Rockshots Records

OUTSHINE - The Awakening

I am a big fan of Gothic Rock and Gothic Metal. Musically growing up during the 2000’s I always enjoyed the doomy and melancholic sounds that bands like Charon or The 69 Eyes played. Outshine is a Swedish duo that has so far released 4 albums and this time they present “The Awakening”, an 8-song album full of melancholy and catchy music. I am a sucker for nicely composed album art, so I was very drawn to this release from the first time I saw the art, which perfectly fits the mood of the record.

In “It’s All Lies”, a beautiful and melancholic piano + synth intro and a crushing riff open the album and set the mood perfectly for Outshine’s music. This is a very enjoyable song that strongly reminds me of those (mostly) Finnish Gothic Rock bands that were very popular around the middle 2000s. The deep vocals that are so characteristic of this subgenre make themselves present from the first verses, and although I am not a massive fan of the way the band double-layered some vocal sections, it is a very good album opener. “Our Misery” comes next. This one has a more radio-friendly feel to it and a thick bass synth line that drives the song throughout. The chorus is very catchy and the background piano complements it perfectly. The middle section with a section of strings brings a bit of variety to it. “Love is Dead” is a darker song than the previous ones. The spoken intro manages to create an unsettling atmosphere and then leads to one of the most ear-wormy songs in the album. This is a track that plays it safe from every angle, but that surprisingly works. “Swe Hates Me” is a doomy and gloomy song that is driven by chunky riffs and bass lines. Very atmospheric and with strong Peter Steele vibes, but not as memorable as the previous songs so far.

“No More Reasons” is a shorter song that feels a bit more generic and although nothing is really wrong with it, it doesn’t really stand out against the rest of the album. It has all the elements the band uses. Definitely the weakest song so far for me. “Darkness Within” comes right after, and it manages to bring the emotions back to a high point. It is a heavy song where the bass is god and the crunchy palm-muted notes of the verses give it a very interesting overall feel. The brief middle section adds the perfect amount of tension and manages to complement the rest of the song very appropriately. “I Was The One” is another OK song that unfortunately doesn’t manage to bring many new elements to the table other than a more “creepy” vibe. It is quite catchy and definitely sounds like it was written with the potential to be single in mind, but I feel that this band is at their best when they play slower and heavier. Fortunately, Outshine saved the best for last, and this is the album-closing track “We Know Who You Are”. This is a longer track where the band shakes things a bit. The first riffs are as crushing as they ever get in this album and the overall tone of the song is a bit more sinister and tense than in other songs. I absolutely love the discreet synth line that plays in the background during the verses. It is an element that is not very evident at first, but that manages to give a lot of its identity to this song. Definitely my favorite track in the whole album (although the 2 minute-long outro might be a bit too much), but overall a great way to finish the album.

Production-wise, the album is mostly OK, although I do feel that some mixing decisions might have hindered some better aspects of the songs. For example, I feel that the double-layering of the vocals in many sections becomes very evident and distracting after a while, especially since both layers seem to be at the same level and pitch, which creates this feeling that one layer is competing against the other. I love how the bass and the thick synths drive many of the tracks, but the overall guitar sound is honestly a bit weak.

In general, this is a perfectly enjoyable release that does not break any molds or brings anything spectacular to the world of Gothic Metal, but if you enjoy the genre I’m pretty sure you will have a good time listening to these 8 songs. This is an album that feels very one-dimensional in many ways, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it can create a very strong overall tone and atmosphere, which it does.

Album highlights: It’s All Lies, Our Misery, Darkness Within, We Know Who You Are.

For fans of: Charon, Poisonblack, The 69 Eyes, The Vision Bleak

Outshine: Facebook

Release Year: 2022
Label: Rockshots Records
Category: Album
Country: Sweden

Reviewed by Roman Ibarra