Sound — 10
Forgive Durden has come a long way from the band that released it's debut album 'Wonderland' in 2006. Since the other members of the band left in early 2008, Forgive Durden has become lead singer Thomas Dutton's solo project. The fact that Dutton works well with complete creative control is obvious, as Razia's Shadow is a magnificently unique album. Razia's Shadow is a musical, which may turn some fans' heads, but believe me, it is a truly spectacular experience. Drawing obvious influences from musicals such as Aladdin, Razia's Shadow tells a compelling story in two halves. From the opening notes of 'Genesis', Razia's Shadow's sound is vast and soaring, with the majestic sound of a full orchestra filling most of the album. Dutton, rather than relying on guitars and catchy hooks, uses an incredible diversity of sound. Razia's Shadow is not a regular pop/punk album, or simply an alternative rock album. It goes beyond genres.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics in Razia's Shadow are magnificent. Filled with beatufiul lyrics that tell a dazzling story of creation, and ultimately the redemptive qualities of love and hope over darkness, Razia's Shadow is successful in inspiring all listeners. Perhaps one of the most amazing things about this album is the fact that the lyrics seem to fit in with every song on the album. No matter how sweeping and majestic the melody is, there are lyrics that fit perfectly. Razia's Shadow, as a musical, has an all-star cast, including Casey Cresenzo of The Dear Hunter, Danny Stevens of The Audition, Chris Conley of Saves the Day, Daniel Young of This Providence, Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco, Max Bremis of Say Anything, Nic Newsham of Gatsby's American Dream, Greta Salpeter of The Hush Sound, Shawn Harris of the Matches, Lizzy Huffman of Man in the Blue Van, John Bourley of Portugal. The Man, Kris Anaya of An Angle, and Aaron Weiss of mewithyou. Each singer fits his/her part stunningly. It is thrilling to hear so many talented musicians on one record, particularly one as ambitious as this. Many of the stars are simply outrageously good at their parts, particularly Shawn Harris as the sinister Doctor, Brendon Urie as Pallis, and Dutton himself as Adakias and Ahrima. The fact that all these singers have such strong voices helps the album, which is strongly dependent on lyrics and the singers as a means of providing them, feel larger and stronger.
Overall Impression — 10
Razia's Shadow is a powerful and ambitious record, extremely different to other alternative rock albums, and sets itself apart from the crowd. Thomas Dutton shows his creative genius, and Razia's Shadow shows this. It is a staggering work of exceptional talent, which clearly took an enormous amount of effort to complete. The entire album flows song to song with astonishing ease, especially considering the incredibly different sounds of each song. Each song is so brimming with originality and splendour, it would be impossible to choose any stand-out tracks at all. The contrast between the music for different characters is a stand-out on this album, particularly during the times Pallis and Adakias are speaking. The light, uplifting lines delivered by Dutton, with soaring trumpets in the background, as compared to the short staccato notes and rapid drumming of Daniel Young's parts in 'The Exit' are fantasically juxtaposed, and the dark, forbidding tones of Urie's parts in 'The End and The Beginning' as compared to Dutton's inspirational music along with the underlying motif "Don't you ever feel like you've been destined for something bigger than your skin" is ironic because of the states of the characters at that time. Razia's Shadow is one of the greatest, if not the greatest albums of 2008. I would not hesitate to replace a lost copy. The timeless story, as well as the astounding music makes it a must own CD. Razia's Shadow unlocks the sentiment in people, making us dream of someplace better, where the lights shine brighter, a future where our destinies await, glistening and shining.