Texans Dead To A Dying World offer a huge vista to the listener, in every sense. In their new album, they attempt to offer their take on the feelings of the last Human alive after some apocalypse or other; this is vast, yet simultaneously minute subject matter. And that dichotomy is repeated in the very structure of the artist and it’s many co-conspiritors on this and their other recordings. For the undeetaking of such a vast enterprise, Elegy often sounds incredibly intimate.
The amount of people involved here rivals an Avantasia album (though with fewer Ravens and more beards, probably), but whilst a Tobi Sammet production glorifies the bloat and pomp of modern life like no other, so DtaDW transmit the solitude of humanity in it’s most exposed form in similarly impressive nature. Syzygy, the album’s morose opening statement, all sombre in delivery, in tone and in mood, shouldn’t really belong near the triumphant blackened pomp rock of the album’s central masterpiece, Empty Hands, Hollow Hymns – yet the connection sounds as natural as natural can be. Dead To A Dying World are masters of the potentially-jarring juxtaposition of musical ideas, and not a moment goes by on Elegy when you won’t be marvelling at how they herd so many disparate strands into such a cohesive and compelling end product.
Central to this are the omnipresent strings of former Sabbath Assemblist Eva Vonne, whose viola contributes to most of the most memorable music on the record, bridging the gap between the modern prog of Opeth or, to a lesser extent Ne Obliviscaris and it’s historical forbears in Kansas and Gentle Giant in majestic style. Similarly the lyrical bent of humanitarian/green concern sees a direct link back to some of the seventies giants of pomp and prog rock, backed by the guitars of Sean Mehl and James Magruder which often bring back memories of names like Mountain and, again, Kansas in their more florid moments.
The interspersing of three epic set pieces with three ‘buffer’ tracks works well in a dynamic sense, giving a nice ebb and flow but in reality this is essentially a fifty minute metallic symphony, a meditation on what it means to be a human in the twenty first century split into six movements for download convenience. Sit back, if you can, and immerse yourself in the entire experience as a whole, and you’ll be astounded by the sheer scale on which Dead To A Dying World have succeeded with Elegy. This really is staggeringly good stuff.