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Rishloo - Eidolon CD (album) cover

EIDOLON

Rishloo

 

Crossover Prog

4.05 | 46 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

JLocke
Prog Reviewer
4 stars So much more does Rishloo offer in their sophomore release, ''Eidolon''. By contrast, it's almost a night-and-day difference to me; the first album was very, very simple musically, hard hardly any rhythm section, the overall mood was melancholic, and the topics broadly drawn. This time out, the technical side of their playing has amped up drastically, the drum and bass are much more furious and prominent, the tone of the album is much more melodic and hopeful to my ears, and . . . well, okay, the topics are STILL broadly drawn. Haha.

Lyrically, ''Eidolon'' is just as much of a slowly-unraveling mystery as its predecessor, if not more so. Drew is still singing his heart out through obscure, poetic symbolism, but the words do seem more profound and meaningful this time despite that. So really, everything about this album is better.

Since I find myself so much more impressed by this album than the first, I felt the need to give a song-by-song approach to this review. I hope that is alright with whoever may be reading this. My reviews are typically on the longer side, so hopefully if you're already familiar with my style, you won't mind reading a little.

The record starts out with 'Prosag', a fairly basic (yet interesting!) ambient intro. Not even a minute long, it is merely an opening act for the album's first true 'song', which I will go to now.

Track 2, 'Freaks & Animals', is where this opus truly kicks into gear. Already, everything is better than ''Terras Fames''; the guitars are so much fuller and heavier, the drums sharper and more exact, the bass is crunchier, no longer as much in the backseat as in the previous release, and the vocals are completely out of sight. For one thing, Tyler, the band's first drummer, has been replaced with a much more capable player in Jesse Smith. The man is absolute electric on the kit, and his more complex, original approach to the skins really help add a certain flare to the band's music that now feels painfully absent when going back to album number one.

Another significant change is in Drew Mailloux's vocal style. On ''Eidolon'', he is his own beast. Any similarities to Maynard Keenan that may have been there, Mr. Mailloux left behind on the ''Terras Fames'' record. Now he can be heard boasting a much more aggressive lead voice, fueled by much more power and confidence. Anything he may have held back before comes spilling through considerably, and this is just the first track! One moment in particular, around the 2:22 mark, hits me the most on an emotional level. Such beautiful melodies accompanied by such a powerful voice makes for quite the enjoyable vocal experience. As mentioned earlier, Rishloo's music may be a bit more voice-heavy or even vocal-RELIANT than many here would prefer, but I find Drew's voice to be such a crucial element, and so wonderfully integrated, that I find myself giggling like a little kid every time he throws a new and interesting melody, which, by the way, is quite often on this album.

Let's not leave out Dave Gillette's heavily improved guitar, either. I was fan of his playing before, but he too has come more into his own on this outing, In fact, they all have. Now, instead of being a bit buried in the mix and shy in execution, the distorted guitars are front and center, giving the songs a much heavier edge full of complex arrangements and solos that the stuff on ''Terras' was nowhere near.

Sean's bass playing, as I mentioned before, is much more audible this time around, and I'm so very glad that it is! This guy can play! I had my doubts due to his absence on so much of the first record, but listening to this over the past couple of years, it's quite obvious to me that he is a tight, rhythmic player with plenty or originality that adds a lot to the music. Too bad he wasn't shown enough love on the first album, but good thing he finally got the proper treatment on ''Eidolon''.

I've already touched upon Jesse's abilities, and not being a drummer myself, I can only imagine how much fun these new tunes must have been for him to play. Since everything has been stepped up from the last release, we find ourselves hearing the odd time signatures here and there, and plenty of wonderful flourishes and fills. Without the proper guy behind the sticks and skins, a band's music has the potential to fall apart quite easily, but here no song ever feels loose or uneven, and every beat is correct and exact. The music flows and grooves according to its own rules, and never does it once feel forced. That is due in no small part to Smith, so again, I think the right choice was made in giving him the duties of replacing the first guy.

'El Empe' Continues the same enthusiasm and unconventional beauty of the last track. At this point in the record, it already becomes obvious that the guys are preparing to integrate a lot of sound effects and atmosphere into the music. Don't worry, it never becomes 'too much', or crowds the actual music; it just adds additional layers that were absent from the first release, and as a result helps the album as a whole sound much fuller and more complete. Also, this song features what is arguably Drew Mailloux's best vocal performance to date. It's just staggering to hear the notes he can hit, and how long he can hold them, milking each one for all the possible emotion they can hold.

The next song on the list is once again just fantastic. Titled simply 'Pandora', it is the first song that musically is quite similar to something you may have heard on ''Terras Fames''. Perhaps this song's origins lie somewhere on the first album's cutting room floor, but it has clearly been enhanced and pumped full of much more emotion and attitude than anything on ''Terras''.

So far, the album, for me, is a straight-through listen with no skipping of tracks being necessary. That claim remains true for a few more songs, but ultimately this album DOES run out of steam for me. I'll explain what I mean when we get there, but for now, let us continue to enjoy all the riches ''Eidolon'' has to offer.

'My Favorite Things' is just an interlude track, but very cool and worth listening. So far, so good. Can the band keep my no-skip desire going for yet another track?

Why, yes they can, as it turns out! 'Alchemy Alice' is the most unusual track on the record so far, and has a very interesting main riff, featuring an extremely high-pitched, synth-enabled spacey guitar. Not as easily-digestible as the songs before it, perhaps (especially for RIshloo fans who are not typically Prog-inclined), but this is Prog Rock, dammit, and the music SHOULD require multiple listens sometimes. Certainly the most diversity yet can be heard here. I find myself dropping everything else I may be doing when listening to this song on my headphones during the explosive outro.

'To Tame The Temporal Shrew' is a very spacey, airy song full of manipulated guitars and hard-hitting bass. At 1:22, Drew lays another signature-style melody on our eagerly-awaiting ears, and does what, in my opinion, he does best, which is . . . he has this incredible ability to seduce us with small pieces of much larger potential melodies that never were; melodies that only appear once in the entire song, yet leave us wishing for so much more. WIth so many melodic changes going on in nearly every song Rishloo has to offer, this 'teasing' us with these short but sweet vocal flourishes has become somewhat of a signature that he has seemingly continued into the band's third album, ''Feathergun''. Though I won't go into that right now, and I will instead save my comments for the actual ''Feathergun'' review, whenever I get around to that.

Anyway, the song soon moves into a completely new realm, and this is where Sean's bass playing really begins to shine. What a player! His fast-moving fingers playing complex rhythms underneath the vocal lines like a sharp knife cutting through butter; the perfect combination. After the song finally comes to its end, it segues into my personal favorite interlude track, 'Weeble Wabble'. I can't really describe it, so you'll just have to hear it for yourself. It's great, though, if you're as big a fan of he band's vocals as I am (can you tell?).

After 'Weeble Wabble', it's time for the album's centerpiece, and arguably the best track on the whole thing: The title-track 'Eidolon' two-parter. First up is 'Alpha', and already you can tell things are calming down before the storm, with Gillette playing a simple, hard-hitting guitar line that comes to ahead about one minute in, playing single notes underneath Mailloux's long, melodic breaths, setting up for the song's true beginning, which starts off building up and never stops. Plenty of awesome rhythmic and melodic surprises follow, one of my favorites being around the 2:10 point. Think of this song (and its second part, as well) almost like making love to a new, exciting partner for the first time. Things build, then dwindle, only to rise again even more intense and powerful than before. At 3:48, the first hints of this epic track's 'main theme' are heard, and the listener has no choice but to surrender to wall of sound to follow, taking them away much faster and more intense than any roller-coaster ride ever could.

By the time part two, 'Omega', begins, the band's rhythm section kicks into high gear, pushing forth a stirring drum and bass beat that I have never been able to resist bobbing my head to no matter how many times I hear it. That wave continues to ride out throughout the rest of the song, which is so rhythmically sound and varied, I get the chills and always feel saddened whenever this amazing song finally comes to a close. Too short, if you ask me, but it does what it intends, so perhaps leaving me in want for more is the best thing for it.

Sadly, this is where my personal, steady enjoyment of this album ends. I've been listening to it for over two years now, so I'm sure all the opportunities for the remaining four songs growing on me have long past me by. 'In Pill Form' may have served as a fine closing track, but the truth of the matter is, the 'Eidolon' suite felt like the natural, logical ending to this record to me. Had they stopped there, I would have had a hell of a time NOT giving this album a full five star rating, but as it is, the Rishloo crew for some reason felt the need to press on, and so for me, the album ends up feeling a little too long. Nothing is wrong with 'Zdzislaw', per se, but it certainly isn't as good as the other songs, in my opinion. Although Drew's chanting-style vocals and the cool, groovy guitar DO give it a certain charm. Ultimately, though, this is where things start to feel a bit stretched thin, if you get my meaning. Songs that could easily last for only three minutes end up taking five minutes and longer to fully realize.

For instance, 'Disco Biscuit' starts off as a fine little tune, but the actual amount of music heard feel a bit recycled a few times to me. I think had these final four songs ('In Pill Form' included) been saved for either a very good EP or carry-over material for a future album, they may have gotten more praise from me. It isn't really the songs themselves that are the issue; it's the placement and amount of said songs. After the tenth track, I experienced a bit of listener's fatigue, and this is because the songs that followed it sounded too similar and dragged out the album's length past the point when it felt the most comfortable. Sure, had they stopped after the title track, ''Eidolon'' would have ended up being a shorter album than the first in terms of actual length, but now I think this album FEELS considerably longer than the first, because the final twenty minutes or so are full of good ideas, but poorly executed. These last few tracks to me sound like a grouping of disjointed afterthoughts and wasted, rushed potential. It is as if the need to deliver a longer album this time around drove Rishloo into throwing in some last minute, not-quite-finished tracks for the simple sake of padding things out a bit. Not something I think was the best move, but it happened, for whatever reason, and now' we are left with this.

I can definitely say with confidence that this 'Disco Biscuit' track in particular was a birthing ground for many new ideas the band would later fully realize and flesh out on album number three. In fact, Dave Gillette's screeching guitar solo towards the song's end is basically a slightly less-polished version of something he would later take on in full force on ''Feathergun''. Such decisions to include stuff like this on ''Eidolon'' has led to the final quarter of the album to have almost nothing on common musically with the rest of the record. This one is a transition track, and I don't think it should have been made part of the second record, since much of its content clearly got re-worked and implemented into ''Feathergun'' (and much more successfully, I may add).

'Shades' is the final track. If any of these final four tracks have the right to be on the album, it's this one. Still not as up to par as I feel the rest are, but it's certainly a step away from the obscure and towards the familiar. The vocals are really quite good, and this song overall isn't that bad, but it's still just too much extra 'excess' to digest, in my view. However, despite this, I would say it serves as a fairly decent ending to the piece. I still think 'Omega' would have been the better choice, but hey, what do I know? I merely listen and critique. These guys are certainly better songwriters and musicians than I could ever hope to be. Still, my honest opinion IS my honest opinion, and this album goes on far too long.

Oh yeah, and there is a pointless 'hidden track' at the end to waste even more time.

Okay, okay, so these final few paragraphs may have made you think I'm going to give ''Eidolon'' a low score, but honestly, despite what I consider to be a lot of 'filler', ten (and arguably eleven, when including 'Shades'!) of these fourteen tracks are absolute gems. Ten out of fourteen. Not only that, but every second of music on here, even the stumbling moments, far exceeds everything heard on the band's first release, and that shows clear evidence of true progression, which is something Rishloo should be extremely proud of. Many bands stumble completely with sophomore releases, it seems, and for so much of this album to be done the right way, it heavily outweighs the more lackluster moments. On top of everything, the bottom line is simple: I keep coming back to this album again and again, and have done so ever since I first laid ears on it. That's gotta mean something.

So, all in all, ''Eidolon'' is a much more mature, risky, original and enjoyable album than the first, and currently remains my personal favorite from the group. So much has been improved, and so many moments are swelled with raw emotion that I cannot give this sucker anything less than a four. And I honestly don't think that is too high of a rating, even with the excess stuff considered. The fat here is very small in volume, and for the most part, the quality of this album is very lean. Most musical efforts stumble in many more places than these guys did on this album, and it isn't fair to give it a three, since it is clearly better in every way than ''Terras Fames''.

So it is with no regret whatsoever that I give Rishloo's ''Eidolon'' a huge, resounding 4 out of 5. A true gem that should not be missed by any Crossover Prog fan. You're missing out on some trule incredible stuff if you don't give this one a listen. An excellent addition, indeed.

Happy Listening.

JLocke | 4/5 |

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