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(43 min, Translation)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ellipsis I 3:38 2. The Trembling Edge 6:15 3. In Your Dissolving Arms 6:51 4. Ellipsis II 3:28 5. Shadow Lies 2:13 6. When Soft Voices Die 8:36 7. Then Wake to Weep 2:29 8. Ellipsis III 9:51 LINEUP: Jason Blake - Grand Stick, Stick bass; programming Mike Milaniak - acoustic & electric guitars Jim Boyle - drums
Prolusion. AZIOLA CRY hails from the American city of Chicago. Although the outfit counts less than two years of its existence, they've already had time to write and record a full-length album. "Ellipsis" was released last December via the Translation Music label, initiating the group's discography.
Analysis. The album is made up of eight instrumental compositions. I find "Ellipsis" to be free of any direct traces of others' achievements, but since its makers assert they are influenced by King Crimson, Tool and Gordian Knot, I will venture to maintain their suggestion to speculate on the topic and even to continue the line of the trio's latent teachers in absentia. The angular Crimsoid (or positively schizoid, if you will) maneuvers come often hand in hand with the hypnotically repetitive movements that aren't atypical of Tool. Most of the basic themes are set up by the Stick, which we also have in the case of Gordian Knot indeed, though on the other hand there are no improvisations on "Ellipsis", at least genuine ones. Not exactly the execution, but at least the construction of many guitar riffs refers to Black Sabbath. The occasional Techno Thrash structures evoke associations with the mid-period Voivod and the earliest Sieges Even, amongst the other adherents of harsh-and-heavy progressive music with no keyboards. (Oops, I had to use the latter remark more than once this year.) The strong predomination of low tones and dark colors in conjunction with a raw energy and the presence of exclusively odd meters on the first piece, Ellipsis I, makes me think of it as of a nicely angular Doom/Cathedral Metal. (It needs to be said that complex time signatures are one of the hallmarks of the material as a whole.) Ellipsis II begins with an inventive interaction between the solos of drums and Stick; Shadow Lies features some beautiful atmospheric arrangements in the middle section. Overall however, both are designed to evolve the direction paved on the opener and are the most unique, complex and compelling Doom Metal-related works I've heard in years. The hypnotically repetitive guitar riffs typical of the said genre are an integral part of The Trembling Edge as well, but they much more frequently shift in tempo this time around and are always accompanied by the ingenious passages of Stick and acoustic guitar. The most intricate events are free of any heaviness at all, but nonetheless the music remains dark, disturbing and mysterious alike, almost throughout. However this is not the case when the band follows some specific formula far and wide. One of the tracks that best of all display the seriousness of the band's ambitions, When Soft Voices Die is mostly fast and intense, very effectually combining, say, aggressively progressive arrangements with those of intellectual guitar Art-Rock, still featuring a rather strong acoustic component. Very complex, yet instantly attractive. The composition has also some sense of English folk music. It very rarely manifests itself in open form, but when it does, I hear some echoes of the progressive Folk Metal stalwarts from Great Britain, Skyclad. On each of the remaining two longer pieces the acoustic guitar plays a very important role, in places being much more often brought to the fore than its electric counterpart, though it's Stick which sets the fashion in most of the soloing battles here, as well as everywhere on the album. Ellipsis III and In Your Dissolving Arms are much less angry and, on the other hand, are positively much less disciplined than most of the other pieces. Both are masterworks of electrically acoustic Stick- and guitar-laden Prog with only occasional, yet still essential excursi into the area of Metal. The title of Then Wake to Weep suggests that its bearer was intended as a continuation of (the brilliant) When Soft Voices Die. Nothing of the kind! This is an ambient atmospheric piece with a slight flavor of Oriental music, which looks like a foreign body in this dynamic album. What is more, a drummer is absent here for some reason, the track being filled with synthetic sounds of electronic drums and percussion.
Conclusion. It's hard to believe that "Ellipsis" is the first effort of its creators. This is a varied album, delivered with taste and deliberate confidence. Highly impressive! The only reason I can't rate it as a masterpiece (no exclamation mark in the rating) is the presence of the next-to-last track, of course.
VM: May 12, 2006