TheRecordLabel: Pop & Rock

Echoes > Nature | Existence > Reviews

Echoes - Nature | Existence

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.

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...Melodic, complex, adventures, emotional and ecstatic Progressive Metal music carrying all the Power and passion that this music should have: This is what Echoes are offering to the listener. They are also importing many folk and ethnic features into their music. We can take as an example the "cuatro" which is a traditional Venezuelan folk instrument similar to an ukulele. Diving deep into the concept of this album we can point an Epilogue as the beginning of a new experience… An Epilogue is where all starts... and in the case of Echoes we got a magical musical trip already started… a trip full of emotions: passion, love, sorrow, nostalgia and melancholy… everything is now turned to music touched by the magic hand of this band.

...Should we pick some highlights? No. The album is superb in its entirety. Every song has its story to tell. Every song touches a different emotional string. I can only list my personal likes, which are "Leaf Motif", an unbelievable track graced by Nick Storr’s voice (from the Tasmanian The Third Ending), "Unfair" (on the chorus Tobias Jansson is making a small miracle), "Far from Coincidence" (Ovalles here adds a J.M. Jarre flavor) and the orchestral "Farewell", which is a classical variation of the main themes of the album performed by the band and the Anechoic Chamber String Quartet. So, this is an impressive start by these Venezuelans. Nothing more to add. This is an album that will haunt your player and definitely you can’t afford to lose...

...From 70s Progressive Rock to 90s Progressive Metal the band is creating magnificent and inspired music. Three guitars, six string bass, drums, percussion, keyboards plus slide guitar are creating piece by piece this very special and unique puzzle of Echoes. The band also recruited several guest vocalists, the gifted saxophonist Dave Duffus (Winds of Dread, Despair) and a chamber string quartet (Farewell). Well I guess that you should be able to get an idea of the richness of music that is hidden in this little diamond. Melodic, complex, adventures, emotional and ecstatic Progressive Metal music carrying all the Power and passion that this music should have: This is what Echoes are offering to the listener. They are also importing many folk and ethnic features into their music. We can take as an example the "cuatro" which is a traditional Venezuelan folk instrument similar to an ukulele...

...Nature Existence presents us a sonic trip through melodic progressive metal with an obvious emphasis on the progressive side of it. The tracks are constructed in a way that, despite better characterized as mellow/melodic prog-metal, may enthusiasm neo-prog and contemporary symphonic prog lovers, math rock listeners and even some more mainstream alternative lovers. They do put some weight and relative aggressiveness in their riffs and basic architectures, but the prog-rock sense is always present through their use of calmer parts, keyboard tapestries or even some more post-rock-driven approaches. The result is quite good, as the band is able to transpose all these concepts into something that is immensely compact and dynamic, as it is fluid, compelling and consistent. While always maintaining a more accurate tendency to the prog-metal, this band is able to introduce certain nuances to their music that makes them not only original but also a band to follow, making the listener wait in expectation for their next release. The way they incorporate (subtly) folk instruments, sax, strings and other details, not only varies their spectra and adds colors to an already colorful palette but also makes the listener come back to find more details in the next listening experience. The obvious Dream Theater and Shadow Gallery references are enriched by the math-rock capabilities and a certain Floydish feel that they sometimes hide and other times make quite explicit...

I had no expectations at all before I started listening to this debut from Venezuelan band – no expectations, shouldn’t not to be misunderstood as low expectations. And basically that is the best way to get into the new album, by this, for me previously unknown band. Nature | Existence sets the stage form the very start, the stage that is solid mixture of the older progressive rock and classic progressive metal. Once this fundament is established the band colors it with endless line of influences be it the Venezuelan folk, more traditional pop or electronica. Common for all these aspects is that they add the new dimension to the music, but never take the focus from the above mentioned fundament. This results in a truly great flow of the album and the music that is vibrant and interesting. The balance between melody and heavy riffing is simply perfect, never compromising any of the two.The performance too is spot on, with competent musicians and a number of gust vocalists who deliver anything from James LaBrie to David Coverdale feel to the ever vital melodies. Music too is well written and despite the journey through many genres, the music feels a one entity partly because of the production, but mostly because of the clever songwriting and arrangements. Echoes get away with pretty much everything, even with two consecutive instrumentals one after another and in just about any aspect, this album delivers that, which is set to deliver. Highly recommended.

...Firstly all four singers are very good and not wildly different in their styles. Secondly the way the tracks tend to flow into one another, means that the instrumentals often appear as just extended intros/outros. Finally, despite being complex compositions, all the tracks on this album are just swimming in great melodic ideas. And, boy, can these guys play? Echoes consists of four guitarists, including slide and lap-steel guitar along with bass, keys, percussion, drums and sax. I bet they’re a riot live? In short, this is a very impressive debut from a band with a very bright future ahead, especially as the music here will easily appeal to fans of both ProgRock and ProgMetal.

Maybe Venezuela isn’t the land where Progressive music rules over other genres, but it seems Echoes have encompassed in their debut album all the influences of old and modern Progressive music as just a band with a career at full speed would do. The music found in Nature/Existence is mostly instrumental, with the addition of several guest vocalist such as Tobias Jansson (Silent Scythe), Nick Sorr (The Third Ending), Carl Webb (Oceanwerks) and Pedro Castillo (Tempano/Aditus). If that wasn’t enough, Echoes spices its music with the use of a saxophone, played by Dave Duffus, and the Anechoic Chamber String Quartet, that emphasizes the most dramatic parts of the album. The story told deals with love found and lost. In this contest, the epilogue and the prologue are placed so that one is the beginning of the other and vice versa, to give the feeling of the continuity and cyclical orientation of life. What is clear is that Nature/Existence isn’t a predictable album at all, on the contrary most of the time it steps out of the confine of Progressive Metal with a huge richness and emotive charge component.

..Honestly, I can't say enough about Echoes's Nature/Existence as there were times, when listening, I found words failing me in description. Nature/Existence is a true progressive metal delight, a work of singular accomplishment by which others, past and current peers, could easily be judged. I know it's too early in the year, but Nature/Existence is on my (very) short list of best prog albums of the year. It is that good! Highly recommended!

...This is the band’s first CD and the music on Nature/Existence is dramatic, panoramic and yes at times even a bit bombastic with the emphasis on heavy guitar. But like the sonic references mentioned there’s a lot more going on musically here than you might expect. There are a total of 12 tracks and while none of them is overly long some are joined and segue from one to the next, creating the impression of longer material. The music is at times very guitar centric, but the keyboard orchestrated symphonics play a vital role in fleshing out the dramatic sound. It’s big…at times huge with the requisite crunchy guitar and yet it never gets to point of overkill. It’s all about putting the accent on the right point and Echoes seem to have it figured out. They create huge dramatic sonic landscapes and still provide plenty of moments for the composition to breathe and transition from one mood to the next...

...Prog metal that veers towards the mellow and melodic, Nature / Existence is weaved around an abstract concept that (in the great tradition of The Wall) ends up going full circle with thte first piece entitled "Epilogue" and the closing number "Prologue"). Mixed by Ola Sonmark (Within Temptation) and mastered by Svante Försbäck (Apocalyptica) this comes with a huge sound, packing a punch during the aggressive riffing of "Rude Awakening" and choppy instrumental "Bonfires" in particular. To single out one or two songs does the rest a disservice as there is a strong coherence about the whole piece, despite the varied styles of the vocalists, but the aching melancholia of "Winds of Dread" is a real highlight that springs to life with the sax solo and conveys an atmosphere of loss and despair. Elsewhere, the shimmering vibe of "Leaf Motif" blends lush vocals, ambient keys and a stirring melody against a backdrop of industrial riffs. On the evidence of their first effort, Echoes clearly have the potential to evolve into something special. Innovative, sophisticated and inspired, this is one band that should be on the radar of prog fans old and new.

... There are elements that venture beyond the scope of vintage progressive metal to be found here though, but while neatly incorporated into the sound these hardly dominate the proceedings. First and foremost among these are the guitars. With three wielders of this instrument in its line-up, Echoes make good use of the possibilities for diversity in sound this permits. Leaden, heavy passages are used to good effect, while an additional texture with wandering clean or acoustic guitars is a much used feature that adds subtle touches to most of the compositions on this production. Space-tinged keyboard textures are another feature that adds a neat subtle touch to the proceedings. A few other touches take this band outside of the most heavily explored parts of the progressive metal universe, though. One feature that is noticeable is the lack of elongated sequences where the instrumentalists are given the opportunity to showcase their virtuosic abilities. Echoes' approach to the art of composition seems to concentrate on melodies and themes to a much greater extent than your average progressive metal outfit, and to some extent it shies away from the guitar and keyboard shredding that has become so much of a central feature of the genre. Another feature is the mix and production on this effort. The guitars are toned down, the overall sound is warm, and for lack of a better word I'd describe "Nature / Existence" as a slick effort or, perhaps, produced with half an eye looking towards a mainstream-oriented audience...

This is the debut of the Latin American prog rock band Echoes, and what a debut it is!! The music is a blend of prog rock, metal, post rock, pop and industrial electronics. Normally Echoes is an instrumental band, but for this album they recruited a couple of amazing singers like e.g.: Tobias Jansson, Carl Webb and Pedro Castillo. The line up of this band from Venezuela is also remarkable as it features 3 guitar players, a drummer, a keyboardist and a 6-string bass player. The music is adventurous, dynamic, mature, diverse and filled with great guitar melodies and solos, especially the instrumental tracks like: Epilogue, Lullaby and Bonfires which are musical masterpieces. Echoes’s musical influences range from Dream Theater, and Pain Of Salvation to Genesis and Pink Floyd and these guys are so creative. On Despair and Winds Of Dread you can even enjoy some saxophone solos. If you love great nostalgic progressive rock music then you really SHOULD buy this album. For me this is already one of the musical highlights of 2010!!