Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical
Record Label: Fueled by Ramen
Release Date: October 28, 2008
"Place your head on mine, untie your mind.
Let your bloated brain, balloon and float away."
-O The Scientist
The musical is a dying art, it would seem, with shows such as High School Musical and Hairspray being rehashed for film, being more about the flash and face rather than the journey or the music. Shallow subject matter, lyrics, and characters are in favor over any signs of development in a person.
That's why there's no better man to bring his own musical to fruition than Thomas Dutton, the sole remaining member of Forgive Durden. After the release of Wonderland, the other three members split off, but the idea for the album far precedes these events. After four years of many setbacks, such as what is described above, this album - though it should be called a production for its own sake - was slowly and surely revealed on the internet with clips of each character making their way onto a viral campaign site. When all is said and done, though, the result is a masterpiece, a grand effort that deserves every bit of hype it's amassed.
So, where to begin?
Well, let's start with the story. The musical is divided into two parts, but The Narrator (Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou) is there to hold our hands throughout the fascinating world laid before us. The first saga is that of Ahrima (Thomas Dutton in a dual-lead role), alone in a world soon to be divided by his actions. Ahrima wishes to be recognized as a gifted young man, but no one will listen to him. He falls in love with a young woman named Nidria (Lizzie Huffman of Her Brother Band), but their relationship is short-lived, for after receiving cryptic messages from O The Scientist, Ahrima is left alone to the shadows. It is here that Barayas the Spider (Max Bemis) coerces him into destroying the lamps that symbolize the people's hard work. After doing so, Toba The Tura (Chris Conley of Saves the Day) banishes him from the populace, and the people build a wall, dividing the world into light and darkness.
The two middle tracks consist of The Oracle (Danny Stevens of The Audution) giving the prophecy that the chosen one of two lovers will unite the world one day with their sacrifice, followed by a beautiful acapella piece with recurring lyrics.
Flash forward a hundred years. The new main character is Adakias (Thomas Dutton), who is scorned by the people as a dreamer, who believes his existence is more than what he knows. Even his much more liked brother, Pallis (Brendan Urie) accuses Adakias of being what he is perceived to be, but even this does not stop him from venturing forth to see through his destiny.
"Donít you ever dream of some place better
When the light shines brighter?
Don't you ever feel like youíve been destined
For something bigger than your skin?"
The journey we are led on is of a grandiose scale, as we meet a whole roster of characters whose roles, small or big, seem to make a difference in the tide of the production. The cast itself was very well chosen, each voice flowing and working together to help bring the story to life. Each character stands out in their own extremity, no one role outshining the other. There are no throwaway parts, not one moment where there's a sense of waste. Weissí narration in each piece does not hamper or bring the pace to a screeching halt, but rather is cleverly used to segue into the next section.
The sound. Oh, the sound. That itself is something to be beheld. The orchestra is full-scale and cleverly mixed into the pacing of the show. Squealing violins build up excitement, while crooning trumpets and tinkling xylophones create a sense of humor. Each song is respectable and lengthy, unique in its own way. Itís also pleasantly unpredictable, going from sinister in one moment to spastic and desperate the next.
Razia's Shadow is a production that combines the name with the music, combining a star-studded cast with musical ingenuity and fantastic lyrics. This is Thomas Dutton's Ninth Symphony. This is the pinnacle of the current generation's concept album. This is Razia's Shadow - what many already consider to be, just days after it sees the light of day, the best disc of the year.
97% seems pretty accurate to me!
wonderful review/summary :D
the narrator was amazing, though the lyrics weren't really the album's greatest strength, imo.
some of them are amazingly deep and poignant, while others just seem like they are strung together in order to create a catchy rhyme.
nonetheless, phenomenal album and excellent review.
I think the score is a little high (I'd call 90-ish accurate), but still a great review for an awesome album. I never really listened to the band before this and I'm kicking myself for it, because this CD is epic and the other stuff is great too.