Monday, 2 January 2012

(EchO) – Devoid of Illusions review for Alternative Matter

“Devoid of Illusions” has that quality that is rarely found in an album that is attempting to fuse together elements of doom, atmospheric space rock, “progressive” rock and “post rock” and pure metal, in that it is successful and does the Italian band (EchO) proud. After the initial tantalizing introduction, the album faces these disparate genre elements and makes full use of them on “Summoning the Crimson Soul”, in equal part sensitive atmosphere and brutal snarling vocal, which on paper appears to contradict, but in practice makes for some genuinely exciting pieces. “The Coldest Land” again for the most part, ebbs and flows with the ambience of a desolate interplanetary landscape with soaring guitar lines and pulverising riffs breaking through the horizon, but at no point would the listener feel uncomfortable with the experience.
The use of the dual vocal style may be problematic to a few listeners as growling vocal passages are woven in with clean, conventional lines, but this can only add to the texture that these longer pieces are allowed to create. “Once Was a Man” is probably the one track on the album which gives the listener some stability and respite, and is, for the most part, six minutes of delicate whispered, other worldly vocal without the sense of impending hazard. A perfect example of how (EchO) have successfully fused psychedelic ingredients into the mix can be found on “Omnivoid” which utilises repetitive motifs and changes in direction and mood with ease and confidence. A standout track in particular is “Internal Morphosis” which steadily builds over its nine minute duration with true menace and anxiety, to eventually fall over the precipice into a maelstrom of powerful symphonic riffs and majestic vocal lines. Always a sense that, whilst the song is playing, imminent dreadfulness approaches.
The production throughout “Devoid of Illusions”, by guest vocalist Greg Chandler, is fresh and defined, and helps the listener through some of the more densely layered pieces. Mention should also be made of the albums artwork which, again, has that rare quality in perfectly capturing the atmosphere on “Devoid of Illusions”, part darkly malevolent and part enigmatic and unfathomable. There is authentic excitement in these tracks which lifts them above more pedestrian albums in this arena, and may be held up as an example of how it is possible to release truly original material without the confines of genre compartments. 

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