After his experience with Psychotic Waltz, Devon Graves (a.k.a. Buddy Lackey) formed this new Dead Soul Tribe Project, to give free rein to his personal interests which, probably, didn't fit in his last adventure. After the homonymous “Dead Soul Tribe” (2001), Graves comes back with “A Murder Of Crows”, a gloomy and evocative title (and artwork) for this acceptable CD, which we could vaguely file under the "Prog metal" label. Certainly, this is not conventional metal, but it's also far away from archetypical bands such as Dream Theater, Symphony X and so on.
For those who don't know Dead Soul Tribe, we can place their sound close to performers in the styles of Devin Townsend or Pain Of Salvation. In fact, Graves seems to emulate Townsend in his song structures and theme compositions, though Devin's sound is far more radical than Devon's, exquisitely softening melodies and extremely hardening solos and riffs. If I mentioned Pain Of Salvation, it's because of Graves' voice, surprisingly close to Daniel Gildenlöw's on some tracks. Besides, some melodies and sounds can remind you of “The Perfect Element” (2000) and “Remedy Lane” (2001).
“A Murder Of Crows” is, on it's particular way, a concept album, but it goes without sound effects, leit motivs and other usual resources to give thematic works some continuity. Inspired by the concept of crows as messengers from beyond the grave (¿?), Dead Soul Tribe offer an intermittently interesting work, with some cliches and predictable, annoying and reiterative passages, but also with a few remarkable and elaborated songs, as it is the opening "Feed", divided in two parts ("Stone By Stone" and "The Awakening"), aggressive and polyrhythmic the first, mellow the second. This second segment has a surprising and pure Jethro Tull sound, with acoustic guitars and an unmistakable flute; this inspiration can be found again on the last (without counting in the bonus track, the passable "Time") song of the record, "Black Smoke And Mirrors", an interesting title and a good song to conclude the Cd in an undeniable Ian Anderson vein.
Anyway, before the audition ends we can enjoy some more interesting compositions, like "In A Garden Of Stones", which includes an excellent and powerful work, rich on details, of drummer Adel Moustafa; "Regret", with piano melodies (practically the only on the CD); or the ominous, atmospheric and aggressive "Crows On The Wire" (here, Graves sounds really close to Devin Townsend), an extensive piece that resumes the aesthetics and intentions of this musical project.
Devon Graves has surrounded himself with a competent cast of musicians (Rolls Kerschbaumer on guitar, Roland Iverz on bass and the aforementioned Adel Moustafa on drums) who, alongside a good production, give the record a clear but powerful sound. Definitively, a good metal record with some imaginative arrangements, which should appeal those who enjoyed Devin Townsend's works like “Terria” (2001) or “Accelerated Evolution” (2003), similar to this “A Murder Of Crows”.