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Echolyn - As The World CD (album) cover

AS THE WORLD

Echolyn

 

Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 224 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
4 stars While I can't really deny the Gentle Giant influence here, I think many reviewers are overstating this. I think it is just the most recognizable influence to the average prog fan, but I think it does the band a severe injustice to imply that that is their only, or even main, influence.

For one thing, they have way more drive and energy than GG ever had in their entire career. The rock much harder, have a better and more dynamic drummer, and have almost none of the baroque, medieval atmosphere that GG had (and I'm a huge GG fan). But I suppose my even dwelling on this is going to give the wrong idea, so enough about that.

Echolyn had/has a unique sound. They are American, but seem to have more depth than most American prog bands of the 90's and 00's, and avoid just about all the cliches and traps most of those bands fall into (like Spock's Beards "prog by numbers" approach with Morse..........and far more blatant GG rip off songs). It took a few listens, and the enthusiasm of a friend, to really get a grip on what is going on here. I had Suffocating before this, and it was a much more immediate album that appealed to the prog head in me more readily. This album has more complexity than nearly anything else in my collection (which is really saying something), yet it is not readily apparent on the first few listens. The band has an unusual melodic sensibility which gives them their unique sound, yet they ARE nothing if not melodic. It's interesting that this, their first and only major label album, would be so complex and challenging. And yet, at first listen I was disappointed because it didn't seem all that challenging to me. Not to the extent that they had sold out, but just somehow less adventurous than the previous album. The fact that this is not really the case points to some pure genius on the part of the band. This is the charm and delight of this album, that only after repeated listens can you start to realize just how complex and involved the compositions, playing, and arrangements are. Fantastic stuff.

I have the original Sony release, bought used through Amazon several years ago, so my biggest complaint is the production. It seems to lack dynamic range, which may have something to do with why it took some time to realize how intricate all the compositions really are. But it is not bad production, just not as crystal clear and dynamic as more recent Echolyn albums. Hopefully, the remaster by the band themselves addressed this. I was also surprised when I pulled this out for this review, to see that it was 70 minutes long. I didn't recall from my previous listening sessions that it was this long and it seems to go by much quicker than that. Perhaps it is the short song lengths that account for this, I don't know. Their is a suite of sorts, The Letters, divided over 4 tracks, but to my ears it doesn't really come across as a single composition. More like 4 tracks with similar lyrical themes but nothing else. Maybe that was the intention, I don't know.

So overall, I have to give this high marks. The energy, complexity, melodicism, and tightness of this band has never been more apparent for me. This was an impressive statement for a band to make, and on a major label no less. Echolyn still strikes me as one of, if not THE, most original American prog bands around, even not (though I still have not heard their most recent album). I can't quite call this essential, but I'll give it a 4.5 and round down to 4. Definitely an excellent addition to any prog music collection, just be sure to give it time to reveal itself to you. Once it does, you will continue to notice new things every time you listen to it.

infandous | 4/5 |

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