Founded in 2008, Lunatic Soul is the musical alter-ego of Riverside frontman and bass player Mariusz Duda. Duda has poured his heart and soul into the new album, Fractured (Kscope), which reflects what seems to have been a turbulent time in his personal life as well as the current sociopolitical climate in general.
There seems to be a risk with additional projects for musicians that they resemble the ‘main event’ all too closely, but Lunatic Soul avoids that particular pitfall. From the opening track ‘Blood on the Tightrope’ the album presents a more electronic and yet somehow raw approach, while still delving into atmospheric and piano-driven moments. Some of the songs even feature a symphony orchestra or saxophone. Further variety can be found in the unexpected vocal melodies in ‘Anymore’, the exquisite bass lines in ‘Red Light Escape’, and the militaristic drums in ‘Battlefield’. The latter, while initially a bit jarring, ends up being one of the strongest songs on the album.
There are other sections that take you back at first, especially around the more delicate songs. ‘Crumbling Teeth and the Owl Eyes’ is a superbly dramatic ballad with stunning vocals and soothing orchestrals while maintaining a proggy line. It has a lot of dramatic tension and actually resembles Porcupine Tree in some of the lines. However, it also has a slightly dissonant section before resolving into a great solo. Similarly, the first four and a bit minutes of ‘A Thousand Shards of Heaven’ are beautifully sensitive and contain wondrous melodies, but they don’t quite mesh with the rest of the 12-minute song. While the continuation is undoubtedly good prog in itself, one feels the first four minutes hold a beautiful fragility that should have been a song in their own right, rather than a prelude.
The album overall sometimes feels a little jaunty in its juxtaposition of ballads with power, but this does fit the overall theme of the album. The title track itself is not very “fractured”, but a steady electronic-driven song. Closing number ‘Moving On’ may remind a lot of Puscifer, but while it is certainly not bad, it doesn’t seem the strongest possible end to this album, however, Lunatic Soul’s new release is a solid collection of music with an introspective character.