Byron Metcalf is a master at creating the atmospheric sounds of his tribal visions and then translating them from his fertile mind into solid form in the shape of a brand new CD. His sensibilities in regards to the ebb and flow of his tribal compositions are impeccable and each time he releases a new CD it is like being taken on a guided meditation without words into rich emotional and contemplative soundscapes that leave the listener feeling like they have been invited into a private ceremony for the duration of the CD.
I have been listening to Byron's music for many years now and I have yet to be disappointed by any of his releases and none of his albums have ever been routine or repetitive in nature. Byron is not only an expert drummer but he is also a transpersonal guide and educator, a shamanic practitioner and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. Impressive credentials but they would not mean much if he was unable to take his ideas from his imagination and bring them to fruition in the form of a finished audio experience. Never fear because Byron has never had that problem and A Warning from the Elders is proof that yet again he has drawn from the deep well of his spirit and is offering up music to the listener born out of those deep experiences that each of us has but never brings out into the light of day.
A Warning from the Elders has an urgent message for each listener who is able to look deep within themselves about planet Earth and it is this theme that probably inspired the title of this CD. It is through his music that Byron is able to communicate his hopes and fears about what is facing the planet if we are unable to come to a solution that allows us to coexist with nature without destroying or depleting it and ourselves in the process. A Warning from the Elders comes at you in waves as is Byron's style when he presents us with sonic journeys like the one that he has laid out for us here. The waves are aspects of the journey and allow us to walk as well as run through the auditory landscapes that he has marked out for us on this trip.
Byron's music is best listened to if you can do it undistracted and have some time set aside for intensely focusing on what is pouring out of your speakers. The drumming that Byron serves up for us on A Warning from the Elders is both intense and subtle and gives the listener opportunities to be submerged in the overall rhythm of the music and then to come back to the surface via the more subtle passages that are interspersed through some of the tracks. The track titles tell a story from beginning to end starting with track 1 which is entitled Facing the Truth and the journey ends with track 5 which is called Earth Om - Sacred Resonance. The music on A Warning from the Elders as usually is very organic and has no electronically created spaces but rather sounds created by "wood, skin, metal, clay, stone and the human voice". On track 4 called Fire Passage Byron's voice can be heard doing some overtone singing and it is used to create a wonderful otherworldly effect in the background as the drums insistent beat pulls the listener along the road of this stunning world that is being created right before your eyes.
The driving rhythms that are found on A Warning from the Elders are alluring, hypnotic and offer the listener a sonic palette that allows them to explore their own feelings while at the same time keeps them moving forward deeper into the landscape. As with most journeys in life the driving rhythms and energy are always offset by those times when you finally end up alone and quite with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company. A Warning from the Elders is compelling listening and allows for time not only for the outward journey that each of us takes into the world but also allows for the inward journey that takes place when all the external stimuli of life is internalized into our being which in turn alters who we are and changes the next outward journey we take if we will permit it.
A Warning from the Elders is a masterful creation by Byron Metcalf and resonates with the deeper meanings that he has infused into the drums and the overtone singing. He weaves within each track the message that he wants each person who listens to this CD to be able to pick up on but never in an overpowering way but rather in a way that allows the one on the journey to discover the sights to see along the way without it being crammed down their throats. Byron gives us his usual spirited playing on the drums and his sonic signature is always present throughout this CD and if you are a diehard fan of Byron's music and have liked what Byron has produced in the past then this will not be a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination. Byron again delivers what he does best and as far as this listener is concerned this CD is highly recommended.
Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions