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(54:20, Generation Prog Recordings)
TRACK LIST: 1. Crib 8:12 2. Zorya´s Dawn 10:34 3. Pavement Canvas 8:58 4. Undercoat 2:54 5. Swimming through Deserts 7:11 6. Shuteye Wanderer 16:31 LINEUP: Nicki Weber – vocals; flutes; percussion Dave Mola – guitars; Mellotron Sebastian Ott – bass Tim Ivanic – guitars Tobi Suss – drums
Prolusion. The German band EFFLORESCE has been around for a good few years, but it wasn't until 2009 that the band solidified with a stable line-up. They made an initial EP later that year, and in the spring of 2012 their debut album "Coma Ghosts" was released, courtesy of the newly formed German label Generation Prog Records.
Analysis. When you have a constellation of four guys and one girl singer playing metal, the genre’s symphonic branch and bands like Nightwish do tend to be automatic associations. Effloresce is one of the growing number of bands around that will fail to live up to such an initial expectation, even if their music might find an audience among symphonic metal fans too. Instead of honing in on the melodramatic parts of the progressive metal universe, Effloresce has opted for variation. Perhaps a tad too much, so for people outside of the progressive metal circles, as there's a fair amount of it to be digested, an album of the kind where the listener will notice new details and nuances even after getting thoroughly familiar with it. And they cover a lot of ground. Atmospheric laden gentle inserts and sequences are used to good effect, melodic chorus parts verging on hair metal in construction (albeit with a much beefier arrangement), galloping power metal and quirky progressive metal – all territories covered, with a distinct emphasis on the latter. A few brief flirts with extreme metal appear too, and a few detours into thrash metal territories are also a part of the package here. That the band finds room for Mellotron and flute solos in this already multi-flavored brew should perhaps be an indicator in itself for many, those who can't envision those instruments used within a metal palette might not be the core audience of this band either. The compositions basically appear to revolve around the skills of guitarists Mola and Ivanic. It is by and large a guitar driven affair after all, and the men’s elaborate and frequently refined riff constructions are just as enjoyable as the instrumental parts featuring guitar solos and subservient, supporting riff structures. From majestic vintage progressive metal cascades to aggressive, staccato stomping guitar walls, these two cover all grounds with relative ease, altering pace, intensity and delivery at the drop of a dime, with a good, tight and sophisticated rhythm section behind them without doubt a major asset in such a context. But also when the band hits off into calmer territories the guitars remain crucial and of excellent quality. The dampened, acoustic based piece Swimming through Deserts is a perfect example of this. A gentle affair that I guess many will reference as a ballad, but with more intensity in the performance and with some subtle folk music references that might make “ballad” a slightly misleading description, at least for a metal oriented audience. Be that as it may be, for me this gentle affair was a rather pleasant surprise, and just about the first time I'd select such a composition as the clear highlight of a metal oriented production. While the guitarists do get a lot of praise from me, Ott and Suss on bass and drums respectively aren't slouches either. They both excel on about an equally high level throughout the plethora of stylistic expressions visited, and on Zorya's Dawn they also get to showcase their abilities when taking on a gentle mode of delivery with a brilliantly engaging standalone bass and drums only construction, one of the recurring parts of that song that really sticks to your mind, in a good way. Vocalist Nicki Weber is a fine singer with a controlled delivery, taking care not to switch over to an operatic delivery and able to handle the different styles visited with relative ease. I do believe that she can develop her talent even further, however. A fine vocalist at present, with diversity as her main strength, but I didn't experience her as a vocalist that can manage to elevate a composition to a higher level by her contributions alone at this point. And while my hearing might be somewhat impaired by a summer heat, as I'm writing this in July, I did think her delivery on occasion got a nasal quality to it, a small and not really important detail, perhaps one where my own set of ears deceived me. But at least I'm confident that this doesn't occur in the few instances where she opts for growling rather than singing, that's for sure. How good or not her qualities in that particular department is I'll leave for others to voice opinions on however, as with many others in the prog environment I'm not too well versed with that mode of delivery. But as an effect they functioned fairly well when utilized on this disc.
Conclusion. "Coma Ghosts" is a rather impressive debut effort by the German band Effloresce. Refined progressive metal of the vintage variety is perhaps something of a foundation, but as the band frequently heads out to gentler and more extreme territories both, the end result is a disc that is fairly innovative and diverse, and merits a check by those who find such a description tantalizing.
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