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Second effort an improvement over the debut - 65%

TrooperOfSteel, July 13th, 2011

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.

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