At War With Self | A Familiar Path

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A Familiar Path

by At War With Self

Third chapter in the progressive technical metal project from former Gordian Knot guitarist Glenn Snelwar, intertwining metal and classical guitar.
Genre: Rock: Progressive Rock
Release Date: 

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1. Reflections
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5:55 $0.69
2. Diseased State
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3:11 $0.69
3. A Familiar Path
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9:36 $0.69
4. The Ether Trail
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2:29 $0.69
5. Ourselves
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6:30 $0.69
6. Etude 10 (Villa Lobos)
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4:04 $0.69
7. Concrete and Poison
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8. Hope
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
At War With Self is the project conceived by multi-instrumentalist Glenn Snelwar, best known as one of the guitarists on the Gordian Knot debut which featured members of King Crimson, Cynic, Watchtower and Dream Theater. The debut At War With Self disc, Torn Between Dimensions, featured progressive metal instrumental compositions and Grammy-nominated bassist Michael Manring and Mark Zonder on drums (Fates Warning, Warlord, Slavior). The disc was critically acclaimed and was followed up with the 2007 release, Acts of God. Rather than replicate the debut, Acts of God was a complete re-invention of the project while remaining true to the concept of being progressive. Acts of God saw an entirely new line-up for the project, which was a collaborative effort between bassist Damon Trotta and Snelwar that incorporated new styles and the addition of vocals, and was also received with critical acclaim.

A Familiar Path is the third chapter of At War With Self, which is a return to Snelwar’s roots as a musician that maintains the concept of the project changing for each release. The original concept in which Snelwar combined classical guitars into progressive and thrash metal has been re-visited and fully realized with A Familiar Path. The new incarnation of At War With Self features Manfred Dikkers, who joins Snelwar again from the Acts of God sessions on drums and percussion. The tracks on A Familiar Path are “the heaviest, most aggressive and accurate version of what I’ve had in mind for combining metal and progressive influences with classical guitars” says Snelwar. Instrumental tracks such as a hybrid half-classical, half-metal rendition of a Heitor Villa-Lobos guitar study, the Slayer-meets-King Crimson aggression of Concrete and Poison and Diseased State, a new rendering of Reflections originally featured on the debut Gordian Knot disc and the guitar shred of The Ether Trail, are balanced with the vocally-centered title track and Ourselves. A Familiar Path is accompanied with artwork that completes the emotion and intensity inspired by the 42 minutes on the disc.

A Familiar Path will be released world-wide November 2009.


Reviews


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Glenn Snelwar - text from reviews posted on other sites

from Prognaut.com, March 2010
At War With Self returns with a third album called ‘A Familiar Path’, which was released in the later part of 2009. It would appear that the band is still in a ‘duo plus format’ with Glenn Snelwar taking up all the instruments except drums, which is provided by Manfred Dikkers. Glenn’s wife Maggie is featured on “Ourselves” providing backing vocals.
One of the amazing things about this band is that Glenn likes to keep progressing and never repeats himself. This is especially true with ‘A Familiar Path’, while guitar oriented, it‘s fresh in instrumentation. At War With Self could be classified as technical or progressive metal but to do so would limit their possible future. Just like ‘Acts Of GOD’, the addition of vocals helps keep the music fresh. Glenn’s vocals remind me of Kevin Moore approach on the O.S.I. albums.

Opening up the album is “Reflections” which features acoustic instrumentation by way of mandolin on top of an aggressive metal foundation. The second track "Diseased State" and “Concrete and Poison” are the most aggressive songs on the album. The former has some tasty acoustic guitars blended in and the latter contains a slight oriental feel within the metal confides.

The title track is the epic of the album and is the most somber piece. It also features Glenn’s vocals. This is also my favorite track and one of the highlights of the album. I read somewhere that it has been called Porcupine Treeesque, which is a pretty close description. “Hope” concludes the album on a somber note with the emphasis on acoustic guitar which has a slight Fripp sound.

Glenn as in previous releases, brings something new & inventive to the mix. A Familiar Path is one of my top 40 favorite new releases of 2009 and gets a high recommendation especially for the At War With Self and the aforementioned bands.

Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on March 20th, 2010

Glenn Snelwar (text from reviews posted on other sites)

Progressor.net review, July 2010
Prolusion. AT WAR WITH SELF is a creative vehicle for the considerable talents of multi-instrumentalist Glenn Snelwar, who played on the 1999 debut of ground-breaking, instrumental progressive metal outfit Gordian Knot. At War With Self’s own debut album, “Torn Between Dimensions” (featuring two world-class musicians such as bassist Michael Manring and drummer Mark Zonder), was released in 2001, followed in 2007 by “Acts of God”. “A Familiar Path”, released in November 2009, sees the participation of drummer Manfred Dikkers, who had also contributed to “Acts of God”.

Analysis. At a superficial glance, when looking at the credits, “A Familiar Path” may look like the stereotypical ‘vanity project’ by a gifted multi-instrumentalist – one of those albums that, in spite of the talent on display, all too often end up falling flat on their face. However, I am happy to report that this is not the case with this particular disc, which is one of the most interesting releases I have heard in these past few months, combining flawless musicianship with bouts of sheer creativity. Unlike many highly technical metal bands, who often sacrifice emotion in favour of dazzling displays of chops – resulting in ultimately soulless despite their formal perfection – At War With Self manage to produce a sense of warmth and beauty even when things get really heavy. In fact, the heaviness is kept to a minimum, used to impart a more intriguing texture to the music rather than overwhelm it. The presence of real drums lends an organic quality to the sound that sets it apart from many other similar, nearly-solo efforts. Rather unusually for this kind of music, vocals (mostly treated) are featured on two out of eight tracks, the title-track (at almost 10 minutes, the longest number on the album) and Ourselves, where Glenn’s wife Maggie makes an appearance. Even though Glenn Snelwar began his musical career as a progressive metal artist, he also studied classical guitar when at college, and his compositional approach is deeply permeated by this influence. His intriguing rendition of a piece by renowned Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, Etude No-10 is faithful to the original at first, before being injected with metal riffs and subtle post-rock touches. Snelwar’s eclectic approach is introduced right from the start: his clean, restrained soloing on Reflections (originally featured on Gordian Knot’s debut album) eschews the temptation of shredding, while going for a heady m?lange of melodic arpeggios and metal riffs. Bands like Canvas Solaris or Counter-World Experience (as well as the most obvious reference, Gordian Knot) come to mind, though with a softer edge. The shorter Diseased State blends mandolin and atmospheric keyboard washes with fast and furious riffing, aptly described in the album’s press release as “Slayer meets King Crimson”: The juxtaposition between crushingly heavy riffs and lyrical acoustic parts amount to an instrumental equivalent of the so-called ‘beauty and the beast’ vocal style. In Concrete and Poison the metal side of Snelwar’s inspiration also comes across most evidently, the riffing suggestive of Eighties thrash metal greats such as Metallica or Megadeth, sharply contrasted with a gentle, haunting Chinese-inspired section. The progression and multilayered nature of the music on this number, as well as the hypnotic mid-tempo of both the title-track and Ourselves, have an almost post-metal feel, reminiscent of the likes of Isis and Pelican. While the snappy, dynamic The Ether Trail sounds more like shred-oriented, traditional metal than most of the other compositions, the dreamy classical guitar piece Hope closes the album on a beautiful, melancholy note. Though “A Familiar Path” misses on the coveted exclamation mark on account of a couple of minor imperfections (such as the use of treated vocals), it is nevertheless an outstanding release that can be enjoyed even by those who have reservations about anything even vaguely metal-related. It does not hurt either that the disc is accompanied by some equally outstanding, sophisticated cover art hinting at Escher’s iconic work, and that its running time is kept to a wise 42 minutes. A top-notch effort from a very talented artist.

Conclusion. I would not hesitate to recommend this album even to those progressive rock fans who usually shy away from metal, since the actual metal content might be seen as a generous pinch of spice, rather than the main ingredient of the music on display. Flawlessly performed, yet imbued with a sense of warmth that is not often to be found in this kind of production, “A Familiar Path” is an excellent effort from a remarkably gifted musician and composer, and one that should appeal to every lover of genuinely progressive music.

RB=Raffaella Berry: July 4, 2010

Glenn Snelwar - text from reviews posted on other sites

from www.seaoftranquility.org, December 2009
At War With Self are a project put together by Gordian Knot guitarist Glenn Snelwar and A Familiar Path is their third album. The initial motivation behind At War With Self was to combine heavy music with progressive elements and then to add classical guitar to that concoction and whilst the second album Acts Of God, used a slightly different blueprint, it's that first mission statement that Snelwar sticks by again with this release.


Aided this time round only by Manfred Dikkers on drums and percussion, Snelwar handles all guitars, bass and keyboards, as well as some mandolin and vocals, although Maggie Snelwar does add some vocals on "Ourselves". The album opens with two instrumentals "Reflections" and "Diseased State", which are pleasantly different from each other. The former kicks off as if you walked into a band in full flow, with a distorted guitar line and angular drum beat barely controlling a swooping, diving guitar solo that sets the tone of the song beautifully. In the background of all that is a subtle piece of classical guitar that slowly but surely bullies it's way into the lime light as the song goes on and by the finale of the track it's lilting uplifting melody dominates all in it's path. It's a stunning and beautiful introduction to the disc and with the swaying vibe created still fresh in your mouth the angular electric guitar blare that smacks you in the face for "Diseased State", becomes all the more breath taking. Coming across like Porcupine Tree jamming with Slayer it's an uncompromising statement, however there is still room for swaying chimes and frantic classical guitar clattering to contrast against the overall melee.

Fittingly the title track is also the longest song on the album and the first to feature vocals, the initial melody line is strongly reminiscent of "Another Green World" by Brain Eno and is one of the more traditional progressive rock moments on the disc. Beautiful layered vocals move over a stark acoustic back drop and give a feel that lies somewhere between Genesis and King Crimson, especially when the clanging guitars alter the mood later in the track. After the longest number on show we dive headlong into the shortest with the two and a half minutes of "The Ether Trail" with it's Geddy Lee galloping bass line and almost Steve Vai inspired fret blazing guitar work. Dikkers percussive work is tight, focused and in perfect sympathy with the music, always managing to keep pace with the mood shifts whether they be profound or delicate.

King Crimson jamming with an orchestra springs to mind with "Ourselves". Swathing strings compete with a huge barrage of bass and guitars and as each section of the song races by, the victor of the battle chops and changes. The beautiful reworking of "Etude No.10 (Villa-Lobos)", which is a guitar tutorial piece begins traditionally enough with Snelwar showing some wonderfully dexterous guitar work, however as the piece moves on the tradition makes way for a progressive jazz work out of the highest order. Dikkers is especially impressive as the track plays out as he batters seven shades of hell out of his kit.

Once more prog collides with thrash on "Concrete And Poison" and it's this ability to merge and interchange styles seamlessly that continues to astound and hold the attention. Closing track "Hope" is a surprisingly gentle way for the album to play out, however with the classical progressions now moved to electric guitar it is no less compelling or effective.

A Familiar Path proves that in the right hands it is still possible to fuse together disparate genres into hugely innovative and enjoyable music that not only challenges, but rewards the listener with every listen, the sound on the disc is flawless and I have no hesitation in recommending this album to anyone interested in progressive music.

Glenn Snelwar - text from reviews posted on other sites

from ytsejam.com, December 2009
With each album being a full expression intricate melodic chaos, Glenn Snelwar's At War With Self is at the highest accolade of real experimental progressive metal - always we can expect the same wild improvisations finding themselves within a tuneful blueprint, but what becomes of each new album, you can also expect the unexpected. Like bands such as Spiral Architect, Cynic, F-O-E, King Crimson, & Morglbl, At War With Self sees no boundaries of what musical strengths can arise from non orthodox time signatures & key changes with a penchant for insanely executed arpeggios - yet AWWS stands as an entity on it's own.

Keeping everything accessible and interesting at the same time, the tunes are differentiated here - eight cuts with complex & elaborate diversity that prevail over the melodic bedlam is imposed - mirroring the imagery within the M.C. Escher-reminicent cover and liner notes, drawn by Snelwar himself. Utilizing acoustic instruments over the aggressive metal overtones (not being this over synthesized record) - both the mandolin driven "Reflections" and the Voivod-ish "Diseased State" proved that the unplugged factor can be correctly copulated with all things heavy; the prog-metal tunage of "Ourselves" & the Porcupine Tree-esque title track bring things to a vocal level; while the instrumental interludes of the sporadic "Etude No. 10," "Concrete and Poison," and the laid back "Hope" with the glistening clean electric, are further showcases of what the axeman/multi-instrumentalist/composer can do.

Along with drummer/percussionist Manfred Dikers & guest vocalist Maggie Snelwar, A Familiar Path is a further exposition of Glenn Snelwar's musical mindset, again treading the same lines of his past relapses, yet bringing something new & inventive to the table.