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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A well made début effort from this Venezuelan act. And one that should please fans of bands like Dream Theater looking for something slightly less complicated to listen to. Vintage progressive metal appears to be a distinct inspiration for the sonic excursions on this disc, but unlike many of the artists that have taken on this type of music Echoes seems to prefer reaching out for a slightly less demanding audience as far as intricate features go.

The passages focusing on instrumental virtuosity are fewer, the compositions generally less intricate and mostly slower paced. The shifts in sound and expression are less brutal, and the production warm and nice to the point of being slick.

And while I rarely found myself thrilled by this album I did find many good ideas here, the utilization of slightly space-tinged textures a nice feature to name one example. And while heavy and clearly metal in expression, the mix and production is slick enough for this album to possibly be of interest to those not normally listening to metal music as well. A similar description was once given to a band like Queensryche, and I think many listening to that band might find this effort intriguing as well, despite the difference in musical foundation.

Report this review (#299564)
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The new white hope........

My phrase above was taken from the pro boxing circuit where everyone was looking high and low for the new white heavy weight boxer who could take the sport to another level and to greater pay days. That white hope never materialised though and that sport floundered.

The prog metal scene has also been looking for the next great thing after Dream Theater has been a bit wobbly lately. Echoes from Venezuela may just be this next big thing. This, their debut album has been praised like gold dust in most prog metal magazines around this globe. With good reason.

The first part of this album tells tales about a band engrossed in Dream Theater. Much of the sound has been borrowed from the theater and recycled by Echoes into this album. But this album and Echoes also have something Dream Theater has lost lately: The ability to surprise and to come up with something extra. Echoes is by no means just a Dream Theater clone. You find a lot of Queensryche and Rainbow in their music. Echoes must also have had a look at the likes of Sigur Ros and the post rock scene. The result of this amalgation of influences is an album which sounds very much like 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. That's what makes this album to what it is.

Nature/Existence is a truly great album which throws up surprises, certainties and brilliance at the same time. Even the vocals are great here. There are no truly brilliant songs here and that is my only gripe with this album. But this is very much a great album which points out the road ahead for the progressive metal scene.

4 stars

Report this review (#381497)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Promising Young Prog Metal Band

Echoes is a (sort of) instrumental prog metal outfit from Venezuela who produce music well within the genre's typical sound. I picked up this album as one of their guitarists came to the forum asking for feedback, and I was impressed by the quality of the recording and musicianship. While firmly within the Dream Theater style of prog metal, Echoes rarely devolve into showy chops displays, and overall I'd say that NATURE / RESISTANCE is a more musical and listenable piece of work than most of the recent DT I've listened to. The band has plenty of energy, a few personal touches, and the album flows well so that my attention never lags. Unfortunately, the band seemed undecided about how to deal with their lack of vocalist. Rather than do a completely instrumental album, they chose the lead vox by committee route, and the results are predictably mixed.

Carl Webb lends his voice on "Rude Awakening" and "Far from Coincidence." His tracks have the most distinct identity and his lyrics seem the most focused. Both he and Pedro Castillo try a more personal approach than the typical prog metal howler, something a bit like early prog metal band Damn the Machine's vocalist. Nick Storr and Tobias Jannson are less memorable, and I think the band feels the most comfortable with Webb. In addition, there are a number of instrumental tracks which vary quite a bit in style and theme. The opening track is extremely strong, but the later, orchestrated "Farewell" is pretty but seems a little out of place with its almost Baroque strings. Sax weaves in and out of several tracks, and this seems to fit better. Keyboardist Alfredo Ovalles adds some industrial and psychedelic layers at times which also adds to the variety.

Metal is about electric guitar and Echoes boast a three axe attack that allows the band the ability to reproduce their multilayered music live. Clearly, the parts are carefully composed and meant to compliment each others. I'd definitely use the word tasty to describe the work, though there is some fire-breathing just to please the usual needs for some chops. The production quality is quite good.

Overall, this is a promising band that first needs a permanent singer (hopefully one with a distinctive vocal tone) and to decide how they are going to make their individual mark. All of the building blocks are there already. Though I would consider this album equal to many of its peers already, I hear more potential in this band. I'll be keeping an ear open for their next offering.

Report this review (#414150)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I have to confess that my knowledge of the Venezuelan music scene is pretty poor, in fact it wouldn't be a stretch to say that it is totally non existent, but at least I do now know one band that comes from there, and mighty fine they are too. Echoes first started to get attention for themselves in 2005 when they won the prestigious 'Alma Mater' Rock Festival and since then they have been playing as many shows and festivals in their own country as possible to hone their craft. This is their debut album, released at the beginning of 2010, and shows that these guys have a view of metal and prog that is going to gain them many friends in countries well outside of South America.

The press release says that it is a mixture of prog rock with math metal and loads of other stuff thrown in for good measure and I reminded myself that yet again I shouldn't read the press release before playing the album as how could that be right? One eaten humble pie later I can say that I totally get where that statement is coming from ? there are bits and pieces, in fact whole passages, that could have come straight from the latest Protest The Hero opus, while at others the guys definitely show their prog inclinations. There is a section in "Despair" where they combine all of this with some great sax (care of guest Dave Duffus) that tries to bring all of their influences into a VDGG maelstrom and it works oh so very well indeed.

This is an album that does benefit from being played very loud indeed, yet while there are huge metal elements there is no way that this could be confused with being a straight metal album. So okay it is prog metal, but much more in common with Dream Theater than acts like Threshold, and then not really like them either. Imagine Protest The Hero playing prog and that is the best analogy I can come up with, and as they are one of my favourite bands you can see how much I have enjoyed this. The vocals appear to be all guests, so it is probably no surprise that a) they are top quality and b) there are very long instrumental passages. But this is much more than fancy metal, as there is delicate piano, acoustic guitars, strings and so many other musical ideas to discover.

These guys are incredible musicians with great songs, and overall this is an album that needs to be discovered at once if not sooner.

Report this review (#604334)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 | Review Permalink

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