I think it’s safe to say the musical career path of the band New Sun is on more of a “slow burn” that a “hot boil.” This is the fourth CD since 1995 for the San Francisco based quartet, following up on their last release Expectations in 2001. Made up of Chris Trujillo (drums, vocals), Christopher Scott Cooper (guitars, vocals, keys), Alex Kley (bass) and newest member Chris Elio (vocals) the band have over the years slowly evolved their heavy-prog style in some interesting ways. Formed in 1993 at the beginning of yet another wave of new prog bands, New Sun’s musical vision always took a harder edge and that continues to this day.
Damage Doneis made up of seven compositions ranging from four-minutes up to a little over nine. Many of the classic prog elements are in place, soft, introspective parts transform into loud clashing heavier segments. Intricate instrumental work, the individual soloing, the instrumental interplay, it’s all there although it’s not always that obvious. The overall tone is dark and heavier although nowhere does it fall into the prog-metal style. Instead these tunes play their heaviness off of open and spacious musical structures. The opening track “Shards in the Sand” [9:15], the longest of the bunch is a classic example as it weaves through many different ups and downs incorporating plenty of musical change-ups along the way. While keyboards are present, they hardly ever play a prominent role for any length of time. For the most part they stay in the back, playing a supporting role. It’s the guitars that take centre stage. Lead vocals are supported on many occasions with subtle harmonies all of which creates a nice full sound in the vocal department.
On the surface the sound created by New Sun on Damage Done comes off as sparse, open, and airy even simple. And yet for all the spaciousness created, the more you spend time with these tunes the more cohesive and complex they begin to sound. This is the kind of prog that will have much appeal to fans of fringe genres like Alt-Prog. The guitar-centric approach will also appeal to prog-metal fans looking for something just a little more interestingly structured. Nicely done.
RATING 11.5 (out of possible 15)
After a 10-year absence, San Francisco’s New Sun returns with its fourth release. (The addition of new vocalist Chris Elio caused a reboot delaying this album’s completion.) The band explores human nature’s darker side in the likes of “Damage Done,” where Elio intones, “Just another day to swim through/Hollow steps to nowhere/His hopes all used.”
Tempos throughout are slow to middlin’, fitting the reflective themes. Consequently, it takes a bit of patience and focus on the lyrics to hang with nine-minute “Shards in the Sand,” and others. “Dreams” picks things up, adding inventive use of horns. “Miscreants” could be the album’s strength, alternating acoustic guitar verses with more aggressive choruses. “Chasm City” employs vocal harmonies to nice effect.
Damage Done is self-produced which can bring mixed results. They’ve done a fairly good job, especially with the drum tracks. The vocals can sound “distant,” but that also might be for effect. Regardless, New Sun deserves kudos for courageously heeding its muse after too long away. -- RICK TVEDT
Since 1992, "The 'Bible' of progressive music"
Review Damage Done
Jordi Costa Sinfomusic (Musea-Spain)
Surprising New Sun is back after more than ten years of silence. It was in 2001 when they released their last album Expectations, an album that did not receive as good reviews as their two previous works. Maybe that led to the long hibernation of the group, a long silence broken now with Damage Done.
This new album takes us back to the groups darker material. The music of these veterans of American Progressive exercises introspection with an interesting sound. Sinuously moving parts accompanying a story always disturbing. It's as if Rush or King's X, were deeply tinged with Fripp, or Steve Wilson, sometimes touching on Gothic.
Compositions like "Shards in the Sand" testify to the edginess that surrounds their style. "Damage Done" demonstrates the ability to thrill the listener and hold with interesting changes driven by ubiquitous electric guitar. There are dramatic moments as with "Antigravity", where a broken voice recalls the torn style of Peter Hammill. We also found more direct and simple pieces like "She Moved Me." "Dreams" is one of the most picturesque songs, rhythms much more animated with an open air sound that suddenly turns jazzy. "Miscreants" is a departure with excellent drums and powerful guitars , perhaps the composition of a more Progressive House band. The album closes with "Chasm City" a terrific end, very vocal oriented, with excellent vocal harmonies and strong guitar. Moody and intense it is reminiscent of the best moments of their earlier works.
It is well worth trusting in New Sun again, I would give them another chance because they keep making good music and they retain their character, their distinctive style and that's hard to find.
This is NEW SUN's third studio album and it sounds more polished than the first two releases.I don't think it measures up to the first two though,but that's probably more my tastes than anything else.This is still a good record. "Mammoth" is a great way to start, as this is my favourite track. It opens with dark guitar sounds as it slowly developes. There is some riffing 2 minutes in and were really cooking now.Vocals come in as we get a contrast between light and heavy passages.We get a RUSH-like section before it turns atmospheric like the intro.It ends with the guitar crying out as were smoking again. "Cause & Effect II" features guitar,violin,drums and gentle vocals.Passionate vocals take over in an uplifting section.We are treated to some nice guitar work 4 minutes in. "Land Of Not So" reminds me of ECHOLYN for some reason.This is a fairly powerful tune.Some screaming guitar melodies 4 minutes in.The vocals are almost mono toned until he screams out. "Expectations" is divided into 7 parts and is the longest song at 10 minutes. Acoustic guitar to open with reserved vocals.The song becomes an uptempo tune driven by throbbing bass lines,as the lead guitar fires off several rounds.This is a great section.We then get a spacey passage with lots of atmosphere.Acoustic and electric guitar with vocals to end it."Time,And No Words With You" features acoustic guitar melodies throughout. "No Mas Uvas" opens with a man talking before he is cut off by heavy guitar.It turns into a RUSH-like melody with some great bass. This is my second favourite song. "Do You Wish To Know" features drifting vocals and a spacey soundscape. "Expectations Reprise" is really the first minute of the "Expectations" song. As i said this is a good record.I would probably suggest you start with their first album though.