Thursday, January 28, 2010

Right In The Pocket

ECHOES – “Nature Existence” CD ’10 (ProgRock, Venezuela) – "Amleto Monacelli." Those are the first words that come to my mind when I hear mention of the South American country, Venezuela. Now I would suspect that a goodly percentage of you are saying to yourselves, “Who the hell is Amleto Monacelli?” and this reaction is entirely understandable. In fact I would dare to say that, unless you’re like me and have actually purposely watched professional bowling finals on TV, you would truly have no idea who the hell Amleto Monacelli is. So, for what it’s worth Mr. Monacelli was one of the most kick-ass bowlers this lifetime 10-pin fan has ever seen. Taking off on the power game developed in the ‘70’s by Mark Roth, Amelto lit up the PBA Tour during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s with a devastating, hooking strike ball that seemed to make the pins explode. The only international pro bowler to be inducted into the PBA Hall Of Fame, Monacelli is from Venezuela. So is ECHOES.

Now I would suspect that a goodly percentage of you are saying to yourselves, “Who the hell is ECHOES?” and this reaction is entirely understandable. But, you know that after a typical, lengthy intro I’m going to explain all this…kinda like listening to a Metallica song, eh? Anyhoo…. ECHOES are a 6-piece band and the first thing that struck me when I looked at the insert for this CD was the fact that they had 3 guitar players. You must understand, my friends, that seeing 3 guitarists in a band’s line-up is always going to grab my fucking attention. Sorry to be coarse, but there are some things I get passionate about. Squire’s Pizza is one. A weekend alone with my beautiful wife is another. A triple axe attack is right up there as well. Colossus, early Lynyrd Skynyrd, that’s some pretty bad-assed stuff…so, ECHOES had my interest piqued from the outset. But, as we all know, you need a whole band as well as a clutch of fine ditties to make an album. And, folks, we got one here.

If I was going to hang a genre on ECHOES, I’d hesitate ‘cause I know what you’re all going to say when I utter “prog metal.” But before you get your knickers in a bind, let me explain. Sure, there are keys in this, sure there’s some left-turn kinda song structures, yes indeed. Thing is, this is one seriously good listen that will never bore you with some 18-minute yawn fest induced by a brace of Julliard grads trying to cram 64th notes up your ass. ECHOES take that metallic base and instead of trying to prove what great technicians they are, they infuse it with the kind of melody and soaring dynamics that permeates the folk music indigenous to their own land. Layers of guitars, both electric and acoustic from Javier Landaeta, Antonio Silva and Rafael Sequera build a metalized yet emotionally charged base for the band to top with glorious, memorable songs like “Leaf Motif” and “Rude Awakening.” Wonderfully, the soloing is breathtaking and vibrant, not overwrought with the genre-typical neo-classical shit that’s become so commonplace. Oddly, the album features the lead vocals of 4 different guests (Tobias Jansson, Nick Storr, Carl Webb and Pedro Castillo) and reading this before listening made me wonder how cohesive a listen it could be. I’m happy to say that the quartet, while each sounding different, fit perfectly into the rich sonic storm created by the band firing on all cylinders behind them.

ECHOES has produced a record with “Nature Existence” that is not only striking for a new band’s debut but one that would be a scorcher for a bunch of wily old veterans. I wonder if Amleto Monacelli has ever heard these guys? Ripping The Rack

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