After 15 years highlighting his native South Africa on the world goth map, The Awakening has returned on April 27 with a wide-ranging retrospective album featuring its most celebrated songs. But make no mistake, because unlike what usually happens when a renowned artist decides to review its career, "Anthology XV" is not merely a hits compilation. Each one of the 21 tracks collected here has been remixed or polished in some way. So that the band has enhanced its essential sounds while getting ready for the release of its next full-length album later this year. Thus, this anthology includes new versions, alternative visions and 2 previously unreleased songs: the seductive, hook-laden "Fault" (chosen as the album's launching single/videoclip) and the spherical, heartrending "Beneath Your Feet". Both of them provide accurate coordinates of The Awakening's current style, which is anything more than a coherent step in its constant evolution. It's not in vain that the Johannesburg ensemble (based in USA since 2009) has honoured the Renaissance meaning of its name throughout every released record and so it has been done here. They remain rooted in the Gothic Rock and Darkwave genres, but also dabbling into Metal, Industrial, Alternative Rock and other dark-tinged disciplines. Thus, its music offers a hallmark blend of forcefulness rock and catchy electronics, which is pervaded by melancholy beauty and, above all, passionate romanticism (specially in its historical sense). All these virtues are embodied in the band's frontman, Ashton Nyte, who gives a cohesive interpretation to the lyrics through his rich vocal abilities and theatrical perform style. As songwriter, he manages to imbue his creations with a special atmosphere and emotion. Also his multi-layered production holds a plenty of subtle nuances that are really worth discovering on each listen. Rose Mortem (keyboards/bass), Jeremy Kohnmann (guitars) and 'Revolver' (drums) are his partners in crime. So, this album (available only as digital download) is a commemorative gem that lives up to all expectations, gathering together band's acclaimed anthems such as the obscured cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence" ("Risen", 1997), a new mix of the dancefloor evergreen "Descent" ("Razor Burn", 2006), the power-chorded drama "Indian Summer Rain" ("Tales Of Absolution + Obsoletion", 2009), the sweeping-synthed "Angelyn" ("Darker Than Silence", 2004), the motor-rocker "Mirror Tricks" ("Roadside Heretics", 2002), the melancholy epic "Nothing Like The Rain" ("Tales Of Absolution + Obsoletion", 2009), the Gothic Rock classic "The Dark Romantics" ("The Fourth Seal Of Zeen", 2000) or the intense live piano ballad "Amethyst" ("The Fountain" EP, 2001), which closes this repertoire with golden clasp. "Anthology XV" deftly chronicles the very best of The Awakening while proving that its strong position in the dark scene is no fluke, but the result of a methodical and inventive work over the years. The secret: an efficient fusion between addictive rhythms and poignant melodies, through which the band's somber poetry flows charmingly.
Review by Billyphobia