When Covid brought a holt to Tobias Püschner performing behind the drums with German Technical Thrashers Revolt, he felt he had lost a vital part of his life. Still determined to make a positive stance, he decided to develop his own one-man project, and 2020 saw the birth of his Symphonic Dark Metal band Daidalos.
Daidalos – The Expedition (Rockshots/Extreme Metal Music)
Release Date: 29 July 2022
Words: Jools Green
Originally the idea for Daidalos was a modest project, a few songs to be composed on the piano and with Tobias accompanying himself on the drums but modest ideas often grow, as this one did.
Inspiration came from a book he was reading, about the Franklin expedition through the Arctic ice. “The atmosphere on board,” Tobias says, “this feeling in the eternal ice, endless expanses of deadly cold, trapped in a small boat with only a few men, while the rations become less and less, but still never losing hope of returning someday… fascinated me beyond belief. That’s when I had the idea to write a concept album.”
After laying down the basic backbone of the music, Tobias freely shouted a lyric over it and sent the result to a few good friends. “They all said I should definitely keep going,” he says, “so I decided to go through with it. I bought some more suitable equipment, wrote The Expedition and Daidalos was born.”
For the recording of The Expedition, Tobias recruited guest musicians and friends Martin Simon (Kambrium) on bass/backing vocals, Fabio Rossi (Tryglav) on lead guitar, Francesco Petrelli, guitar and Noga Rotem covering choir vocals, who will also support Daidalos on live shows.
In the book, Captain Sir John Franklin departed with 129 men from England in 1845. Both ships, Erebus and Terror, became icebound and after being trapped and suffering in eternal coldness for over a year, the remaining sailors decided to abandon their ships. Trying to survive, they set out for the Canadian mainland but disappeared and it’s these emotions and elements that Tobias aims to express in The Expedition.
The Expedition is delivered as a musical journey through the Arctic Ice. “The different moods the sailors had to experience at that time probably went from heroic and enthusiastic to absolute hopelessness and daily mortal fear,” Tobias says. “I composed these atmospheres musically and told them as a concept album/musical story.”
The Expedition, a nine-song forty-seven minute (plus a bonus track) offering, opens on the title track, The Expedition and my initial impression was what a powerful album this was destined to be. The raw blackened vocals and intense riffing are set against the symphonic and clean vocals which contrast and balance superbly. It oozes suspense and atmosphere from the offset, I was immediately won over.
The second track Icewind was the first song Tobias wrote for the album and begins to create the album’s concept story, the crew’s first contact with the adverse conditions of the journey. A mix of spoken and raw sung vocals develops an icy and foreboding air to the music and closes on clean female choral work by Noga Rotem which not only adds a haunting and foreboding element but, as Tobias explains, represents “a nautical superstition of the past, that a woman on board brings bad luck.”
Sail Into The Stars, is a punchy and dramatic track which begins to develop the bleak tale, lyrically exploring how the provisions become contaminated with lead from the cans and how as a result seafarers suffered lead poisoning and subsequently depression, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Often jumping overboard into the glittering water to their death, with the music’s intensity this builds to frantic proportions as the madness sets in, becoming calmer with a choral close, as the affected sink into their icy, watery grave.
On Stormwind, the two ships are caught in a violent storm and this is reflected by the way the sound changes from initially quiet and reflective into something that builds rapidly and frantically. The male coral backing adds the feel of the crew pulling together and the piano adds an iciness.
Although it doesn’t sound it, Married To The Sea is a love song, as close as you can get to Dark Metal, which lyrically, Tobias says is “about a sailor’s love of seafaring, the marriage between man and the sea. In this relationship the sailor takes all the risks to conquer the sea, sacrificing, intoxicating and sometimes very dangerous – as love is.”
Tobias also incorporates the wedding waltz into the soun. But don’t expect a sentimental ballad, this is powerfully symphonic and punchy with the acidic vocal delivery casting no false illusions, a very cleverly composed track.
The Empress, with its haunting opening and dramatic build and reflectively haunting melodic undercurrent, bleak vocals and second half drops away to piano, from where an impressive and surprising burst of guitarwork emerges midway through. This also has an interesting lyrical twist. The Empress represents the cold death and the eternal ice. “She is beautiful,” Tobias says, “immortal and enchants your senses. If you get involved with her, it is fatal and you become one of her countless statues in the ice.”
Poem In The Snow is lyrically based on the poem, Once By The Pacific, by Robert Frost and fits into the overall theme of this album perfectly. It has a powerful and dramatic build and ebb throughout which holds your interest. The lyrics deliver the concept of the author of the poem lying on the ice, dying and almost frozen to death, carving a farewell greeting into the icy snow with his last will. The piano work again adds an icy touch to the overall sound and I love the nautical-sounding chants towards the end of the track.
Album finale Northlight is a powerfully symphonic, driving track with a stunning second-half solo. The track “is about the dying seamen whose souls go to heaven to the northern lights,” Tobias says, “as well as a song about friendship and the good old times, where you never know when they might be over.”
You also get a bonus track, My Melancholy, a haunting and powerful piece with a reflective acoustic guitar and piano opener. It is lyrically bleak with an acidic vocal delivery and contrasted with superbly melancholic violin work. A superbly haunting piece.
The Expedition is a hugely immersive, utterly fascinating listen, will appeal to anyone who enjoys Dark/Blackened Symphonic Metal and is available to buy at https://bit.ly/Daidalos_CD