We first covered Gustavo De Beauville when we debuted his lead single from Second Sun, “Oh Grand Djinn.” As we mentioned then, De Beauville is a Monster Riff contributor with a great ear for songwriting and perfecting his sound in the studio.
A musical lone wolf, De Beauville released the instrumental Second Sun as a sort of artistic rebirth, seizing the opportunity to create art for art’s sake—without any predefined expectations of selling millions of records or taking center stage at arena shows around the world.
The result is something incredibly complex, slick, and intricate, with a tone similar to TOOL—a band De Beauville pulled inspiration from throughout Second Sun. But this isn’t another TOOL rip-off project. Self-described as “a Stoner Rock tribute filtered through a Progressive Grunge aesthetic,” De Beauville was similarly influenced by bands like Yawning Man, Kyuss, My Sleeping Karma, and Planet of Zeus.
About Gustavo De Beauville
Originally from Barbados, De Beauville now lives in Calgary of Alberta, Canada. Having founded De Beauville Studios, Gustavo has already proven his ability to write incredible video game soundtracks, but Second Sun is his first full-length solo effort on a standalone album.
All guitar and bass was performed by De Beauville, and he used an electronic drum kit to capture the percussion. A few guest vocalists appears in bonus tracks to reimagine a few of his instrumental songs.
Second Sun Album Review
Tracks: 7 + 3 Bonus Tracks
Length: 47:59 + 19:59
Track One: Second Sun
The title track kicks off the album with an explosive beginning that fully establishes the Second Sun sound. In many ways, the immediate, high-energy attack of “Second Sun” calls to mind similar high-energy openers—like Siamese Dream’s Cherub Rock (a fitting comparison given De Beauville’s Grunge influences here).
That’s not to say De Beauville is channeling the Smashing Pumpkins. Instead, he pulls inspiration from a variety of ‘90s bands and some of today’s biggest Stoner/Psychedelic/Prog Rock bands—like those already mentioned above.
More importantly, “Second Sun” perfectly exemplifies De Beauville’s commitment to creating movement, as there seems to be a new layer or twist to the song every few measures. That dedication to writing intricate songs packed with surprises makes “Second Sun” (and the album as well) an excellent instrumental project.
Track Two: Acoustic Ritual
Don’t let the name fool you—this is an intricate track filled with wonderful tension and escalating drama. Featuring a non-stop attack of complex guitars, “Acoustic Ritual” has a tinge of Southern Appalachian swagger to it, which feels like an unplugged version of bands like Karma to Burn.
Track Three: Cruisin
Even from the first few notes, “Cruisin” calls to mind the ethereal, Psychedelic work of Yawning Man and My Sleeping Karma. Trance-inducing and layered to perfection, “Cruisin” also features some impressive drum work.
Track Four: Desert Doom
While a name like “Desert Doom” might suggest a step into Sleep or Electric Wizard territory, that’s not the case here. “Desert Doom” fires up with the same Psychedelic and Progressive Rock tendencies we’ve come to expect on an album like Second Sun, but it also features the most direct and satisfying build on the album. By the time the first minute rolls around, the lead guitar is guiding us through the cosmos, soaring through the night sky. There are moments when the aggression levels kicks up and the instrumentation goes heavier, but these are always followed by softer interludes—so don’t expect any true glimmers of Doom Metal on this one!
Track Five: Oh Grand Djinn (Blessed Is The Sky) – Instrumental
A feast of guitars, “Oh Grand Djinn” alternates between soft but intricate interludes and huge, momentous crescendos. Another track where the TOOL influence is immediately evident, “Oh Grand Djinn” is an immediate contender for favorite song on the album.
Track Six: Vetta, Pt. 1
The longest track on an album of meaty songs, “Vetta, Pt. 1” features meandering but intricate guitars with a big arena sound. This is where we see De Beauville at his very best in the studio, as the production here is absolutely slick, even when the palm-muted guitars dovetail briefly into Nu Metal territory. This is a huge, explosive song that constantly wavers between heavy and soft, creating a fun, exhilarating listening experience.
Track Seven: Vetta, Pt. 2
On the first listen, I’d expected some sort of immediate connection back to “Vetta, Pt. 1.” Instead, De Beauville marches in a new direction, writing some of the heaviest moments on the entire album. After the initial swagger of the primary riff, De Beauville leads us into Second Sun territory that practically bridges us into Metal.
Pay close attention to those incendiary drums in the second half. While De Beauville isn’t a traditional drummer, he’s mapped out an exciting percussive conclusion to Second Sun.
Track Eight – Bonus: Oh Grand Djinn (Blessed Is The Sky) – Featuring Andrew Gwartney
Andrew Gwartney’s layered and breathy vocals fit in well with the Second Sun soundscape, and they immediately call to mind many of the Alternative Rock acts of the ‘90s.
Track Nine – Bonus: Desert Doom – Featuring Otu Suurmunne of Kaiser
Featuring Otu Suurmunne of Kaiser (a high-energy celebration of Stoner Rock and Fuzz from Finland), “Desert Doom” is re-imagined in Grunge Rock fashion. Suurmunne helps to drive the song forward through a persistent voice, ultimately adding an extra layer of emotion to the original song.
Track Ten – Bonus: Oh Grand Djinn (Blessed Is The Sky) – Featuring Serouj Guidanian
Serouj Guidanian adds some additional colors to “Oh Grand Djinn” with a few more tools in his vocal toolbox. Alternating between clean and distorted singing, Guidanian adds growled vocals at the song’s emotional peaks, paying additional homage to the Grunge of the ‘90s.
Fun fact: This version of “Oh Grand Djinn” is also where we get the alternative “Blessed Is The Sky” title.
Final Score: 9.5/10
Standout Tracks: “Second Sun,” “Oh Grand Djinn (Blessed Is the Sky),” and “Vetta, Pt. 2”
Pros: Second Sun is as cohesive as it is cinematic, and Gus’s commitment to movement means there’s never a dull moment in this instrumental album. While each of these songs could have been self-indulgent to the 10- or 15-minute mark, De Beauville shows restraint, delivering six excellent minutes at a time before moving on to the next song.
And although De Beauville isn’t a drummer per se, he understands how to write impressive percussion, especially on songs like “Vetta, Pt. 2,” and that simple fact earns him extra kudos as a songwriter.
Ultimately, De Beauville masterfully blends Prog, Grunge and Stoner into something that should appeal to a wide range of fans, spanning from TOOL to My Sleeping Karma to Karma to Burn.
Cons: Some of the construction of Second Sun is confusing at first glance. What appears to be 10 tracks out of the box is actually seven songs with three bonus tracks, all of which are non-instrumental versions of songs that are already on the album—and two of them are the same track.
Such an emphasis on specific songs is usually reserved for the box set on the album’s 10- or 20-year anniversary, when there’s reason to dump in a mixture of demos, alternative versions, and live tracks.
Here, though, their inclusion feels like a tease, especially since the vocal tracks naturally enhance the songs so well. These singers give us a taste of what Second Sun could have been. And while its current version is outstanding, it appears a dedicated singer could have elevated the entire album even further.