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Echoes - 2010 - "Nature/Existence"

(53:03, Progrock Records)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Epilog (Is Where We Start) 2:48
2.  Rude Awakening 6:32
3.  Leaf Motif 6:12
4.  Lullaby 4:21
5.  Bonfires 3:21
6.  Unfair 6:15
7.  Seasons Came to Pass 1:45
8.  Far From Coincidence 4:16
9.  Despair 5:33
10. Wings of Dread 3:40
11. Farewell 3:32
12. Prolog (Where We End) 4:48


Javier Landaeta – guitars 
Rafael Sequera – guitars 
Antonio Silva – guitars 
Alfredo Ovalles – keyboards 
Miguel Angel Moline – drums 
Jorge Rojas – bass 
Dave Duffus – saxophone (9, 10)
Carl Webb – vocals (2, 8)
Nick Storr – vocals (3)
Tobias Jansson – vocals (6)
Pedro Castillo – vocals (10)

Prolusion. The Venezuelan act ECHOES started out in 2004, and was originally an instrumental only outfit seeking to combine the sounds of ‘70s progressive rock with contemporary math metal. As the years have passed the band's members have met with both recognition and some slight confusion, as they have constantly sought to add new flavors and expressions to their material, which they aim to showcase on their first effort “Nature / Existence”. This initial effort was finished in 2009 and issued in 2010 just after they were signed to Progrock Records.

Analysis. For a band seeking to incorporate a multitude of stylistic expressions into their material, I have to admit that the end result comes across as somewhat lacking in diversity. My initial thoughts on the style explored here is first and foremost that it relies heavily upon the same components that a band like Dream Theater has made a career out of – riff structures of a metal nature, contrasted by keyboards and synths in the back of the soundscape, placed in compositions that shift in pace, intensity and expression often enough to warrant a progressive tag being attached to them. There are elements that venture beyond the scope of vintage progressive metal to be found here though, but while neatly incorporated into the sound these hardly dominate the proceedings. First and foremost among these are the guitars. With three wielders of this instrument in its line-up, Echoes make good use of the possibilities for diversity in sound this permits. Leaden, heavy passages are used to good effect, while an additional texture with wandering clean or acoustic guitars is a much used feature that adds subtle touches to most of the compositions on this production. Space-tinged keyboard textures are another feature that adds a neat subtle touch to the proceedings. A few other touches take this band outside of the most heavily explored parts of the progressive metal universe, though. One feature that is noticeable is the lack of elongated sequences where the instrumentalists are given the opportunity to showcase their virtuosic abilities. Echoes' approach to the art of composition seems to concentrate on melodies and themes to a much greater extent than your average progressive metal outfit, and to some extent it shies away from the guitar and keyboard shredding that has become so much of a central feature of the genre. Another feature is the mix and production on this effort. The guitars are toned down, the overall sound is warm, and for lack of a better word I'd describe "Nature / Existence" as a slick effort or, perhaps, produced with half an eye looking towards a mainstream-oriented audience.

Conclusion. I remember that Queensryche was once described as a heavy metal band that made music that would interest people not normally able to enjoy that type of music. And I think that much the same can be said of this Venezuelan act, to the extent that I'd imagine many fans of a band like Queensryche might find this album to be an intriguing affair. The overall sound and style bear a closer resemblance to Dream Theater though, but with more of a pop music polish to the proceedings.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 13, 2010
The Rating Room

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