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I don't know what dragged me back here, I really don't. I pretty much despised the last album Echoes of Eternity released, and although it had some good features (or rather one in the form of their singer), it was an abysmal piece of work. But, for one reason or another I am back to look at this and decide if the band has improved at all between records.
And oh my goodness, they actually have! I was totally not expecting that. I was expecting more shitty guitar chugging with random notes that don't fit in to just dominate the music, but that's not the case. Can it be counted as the greatest work man has ever achieved? No, not by a long shot, but it's progress. There's still a lot of chugging, but there is more variety throughout and every song actually has its own style to it. The melodic sections actually fit in without me questioning what the hell the band was hoping to achieve, and I'm actually tempted to stand up and applaud the lead guitarist for his improvement.
Unfortunately the biggest loser as a result of this is the drummer, whose average level seems to drop drastically due to not having another instrument that merits a negative score to compliment his skills. Most of his stuff is blast beats once again, but it fits in better this time than last. Once again the vocals are a bit of a contrast with this, which is slightly off-putting, but with the guitars actually working this time it makes the band sound surprisingly good. It is an unusual mixture, but one that the band could most likely profit from using. Francine certainly has a voice worth listening to at any rate.
I can kind of see how this is progressive unlike on the last record, but there are so many different elements on display here. You'd be surprised to hear that they combine metalcore, groove, progressive, heavy, gothic and symphonic metals here (even a very small amount of black/death), but despite that sounding like too much for them to handle they pull it off far better than I'd have thought they could have. If someone had said that they'd tried that on As Shadows Burn then I would have listened to it much sooner, simply to hear the band crash and burn so that I could point and laugh. Never in a million years did I expect to hear them pull that off. Are we one hundred per cent sure that this is the same band that recorded The Forgotten Goddess?
I might have made fun of them for what they did on their last full-length, but this is an improvement worth telling people about. I genuinely was expecting to hear the same shit recycled into a package, possibly to the extent that it became worse than before, but this is definitely not like that. Maybe they were just acting bad on their first album to make this one seem better (in which case the guitarist deserves an Oscar). It's actually unbelievable. My mind just can't process it. I've never heard a band improve this much in two years.
The last time I got this excited about something was when Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock in Brazil with 400 metres to go before the end of the race to win the world championship by a point. Jesus, I'm getting worried about myself now. Go and listen to it now, you'll be surprised just how much better they are on this album!
Since becoming a bit better acquainted with Echoes Of Eternity, I’ve come to see them not so much as an American answer to the booming female fronted gothic metal scene of The Netherlands (though they are American), but more of an actual adherent to the scene living abroad. The riffs and just the overall feel of everything sounds like a literal what if story where Mark Jansen decided to create another project and simply strip away all the symphonic and harsh vocal elements that make early After Forever and Epica slightly more than a gallop happy thrash metal band with the lone accident of a consonant female vocal impresario at the helm. But with the release of their sophomore effort “As Shadows Burn”, some distance has been put between what was a highly derivative niche in favor of something slightly more unique.
Stylistically this isn’t too far removed from the blend of angelic gothic melodies and violently thrashing rhythmic backdrops that dominated “The Forgotten Goddess”, but some more things have been added and a greater sense of focus has been given to the elements that have been maintained from before. A thicker, punchier guitar tone resides amongst a sea of rapid fire riffing that surpasses the largely derivative Jon Schaeffer gallops of before and occasionally adventures into melodeath territory. Blast beats, machine gun drumming and Immortal-like tremolo melodies are also more of a common occurrence, particularly during the early part of the 2nd half of the album on such frosty blazers as “Twilight Fires” and “Buried Beneath A Thousand Dreams”, almost as if Abbath himself had offered some songwriting input into this album.
On the whole, the feel of this album is a bit more agitated and forceful, though also a good bit more progressive and eclectic in its usage of ideas. The acoustic elements that were frequent on the debut are all but absent here, and in their place is an even more uniform, yet more effective collection of songs that betray a solid sense of consistency. One wouldn’t be too far off in calling this approach a branch of extreme metal, though the vocal work is a bit counterintuitive as it brings into the mix a smooth, crooning character that at its most climactic doesn’t even come close to sounding harsh. Francine Boucher doesn’t quite possess the distinctive charm of Cristina Scabbia or the overwhelming power of Simone Simmons, but her voice provides a nice flavor of familiarity and stability amid what is a very chaotic instrumental assault, and is also thankfully free of the over-processed sound that sort of hamstringed the last album.
While the chief target audience of this band may be the same one that Mark Jansen has been cultivating for more than a decade, there’s a strong case to be made that “As Shadows Burn” could appeal to a number of fans of modern melodeath and the modernized, melodic thrash character of recent offerings out of Death Angel and Kreator. It’s all a matter of how important the vocals are to those who normally like their melodies countered with a percussive, semi-intelligible scream, as what is heard on here vocally is anything but that. It’s technical and fairly progressive, so shred fans who normally eat up Malmsteen’s outputs may find a bit to like here as well. This isn’t just a mere hipster trap with a pretty face at the fore, but a very musically credible and polished machine that shouldn’t be ignored.
From sunny California in the United States of America, comes an interesting band called Echoes of Eternity. The band has been a part of the metal scene since 2005 and the new CD ‘As Shadows Burn’ is their second offering. Led by female vocalist Francine Boucher, by all accounts Echoes of Eternity has been labelled a goth/prog/modern metal band. That may have been the case with their debut release entitled ‘The Forgotten Goddess’, but with ‘As Shadows Burn’ I now consider those genre tags to be untrue; well some of them anyway.
In fact, trying to categorise Echoes of Eternity’s music on the latest album can change with almost every track. While I think there is now just a tinge of gothic metal in their sound, primarily ‘As Shadows Burn’ would be considered traditional modern heavy metal with progressive metal and slight black metal influences (yes you did read correctly). I say black metal influences because on a number of tracks you can hear the traditional and typical core sound played by black metal bands. Rolling, swift and lightly touched double bass and beat blasts, combined with short bursts of archaic guitar riffs. The vocals however, don’t conform to black metal and remain true to a traditional modern metal style. The voice of Francine Boucher may not be soft and angelic like goth metal queens such as Simone Simons or Liv Christine, but they are still harmonious and strong.
One highlight of the music on the album is the impressive guitar riffs by both Brandon Patton and Bryan Eagle. Fierce, energetic and intricate, the riffs are quite creative and powerful and contain plenty of crunch for that extra bite. The only issue overall I feel when listening to the songs, is that the music is fairly erratic and a bit of a mess at times because the band members are just trying to do so many things at once.
It’s only when Echoes of Eternity are playing songs that are much simpler, catchy and straight-forward, is when you can fully enjoy what you’re hearing and really get into it. These are the tracks where the band is at their best. Check out “Veiled Horizon”, “The Scarlet Embrace” and “Descent of a Blackened Soul” for examples of tracks that have been written much simpler. That’s not to say that any of the black metal influenced tracks are no good. While a few tracks arguably miss the mark due to their weak or sporadic nature, tracks like “Twilight Fires” and “Buried Beneath a Thousand Dreams” are very powerful despite their chaotic feel. For the instrumental lovers out there, the final track on the album, “Funeral in the Sky” is also a highlight.
Given the label Echoes of Eternity are currently with (Nuclear Blast and Massacre Records), I expected better in terms of the production of the release. The snare drum sounds a bit tinny, while the double bass can sound fairly weak at times as well. It’s obvious to hear that the album has been produced in a way that it is more guitar and vocal driven, while the bass guitar and drums take a back seat.
Overall, despite the ferocity and the prowess of the commendable guitar playing on the CD, a lot of the tracks I think are just too sporadic, with the band really trying to do too much and as a result some of the tracks are messy in quality. Once the album has come to an end, I am unsure of what musical direction Echoes of Eternity are trying to move towards. Maybe the 3rd album will give a better indication of where this band is heading, while also improving on the weak-points on this release.
‘As Shadows Burn’ is a decent metal album that will attract and gain new fans from quite a few different metal genres, but just don’t expect the disc to stay in your CD players for very long.
Originally written for www.themetalforge.com
The American progressive/thrash metal band "Echoes of Eternity" came out with their second album "As Shadows Burn", in 2009, which I was not verry excited about listening to after listening to their debut "The Forgotten Goddess". "The Forgotten Goddess" was straight up terrible, the guitars sounded like a deeper version of nails on a chalkboard, and the vocals were layered with tons of special effects. But that was then and this is now, and what a turn around for this band. The guitar tone is much better and take more leads, and Francine Boucher's vocals are more honest and more out going, also this release is heavier with double bass drums, and shot-gun drumming.
The opening song "Ten of Swords", is probably the weakest song on the album, that takes things slower, which allows room to grow, while other albums put the best songs up front, and the album just gets worse. The third track "Memories of Blood and Gold" is verry heavy on shot-gun drumming and has some sort of foreign influence, that I can't really put my finger on, it might be Middle Eastern, but probably not. The best track on the album is the fifth song "Descent of a Blackened Soul" is calmer during the first part of the song, but than starts with a faster more exciting drive.
The next song "Twilight Fires" is darker and has an ominous touch to it ,it also has a suprise back up vocalist, who does a powerful scream. Then the eighth song, "Letalis Deus", is more high pitched and misterious, which leads to the final track "Funeral In the Sky", which is a seven minute long instrumental that is just as heavy and fast paced as any other song on this album. The second album by "Echoes of Eternity" is heavier, more melodic, and more real sounding.
Highlights: Memories of Blood and Gold, Descent of a Blackened Soul, Twilight Fires, Letalis Deus.