Review Summary: In their fourth album, Italian progsters Eldritch stray away from prog/power metal in order to devise an incredibly catchy extreme metal hybrid.
Back in 1998, Italian power/progsters Eldritch were being considered as one of the key players in underground progressive metal and only a few steps away from entering the major league. 1998's El Nino
attained such high quality and originality that made quite a few people within the prog metal circuit to compare it directly with critically acclaimed releases such as Images And Words
. In effect, Eldritch enjoyed moderate commercial success, they were widely featured within the metal press, while the calls for participating in live concerts and major summer festivals at both banks of the Atlantic ocean, were numerous. The ensemble of this increased activity made Metal Blade Records to offer the band a record contract.
Soon enough though, Eldritch were forced to experience the negative aspect of their acquired fame. Excellent keyboard player (and main responsible for the band's seminal artwork) Oleg Smirnoff begun to behave like an arrogant rock star and eventually left the band so as to cash in his newly attained fame, according to his point of view, that is. This unexpected behaviour significantly delayed the recording of a new Eldritch album. As if this wasn't enough, drummer and founding member Adreano Dal Canto also left the band due to serious problems with his back. Eldritch took considerable time in replacing all departed members and channelled all their anger and frustration for the delay in getting a new album out to the world in their new work, titled Reverse
, an album which captures the band's departure from the established prog/power sound of previous releases for the sake of a more extreme, yet equally diverse metal approach.
In short, Reverse
is an incredibly catchy hybrid that revolves around nu rock/metal, tech-thrash and industrial/electronica. The change in sound with respect to past work comes as a really big shock, despite the fact that Eldritch had always had a thing for extreme metal in their previous records, both in terms of overall sound (incredibly heavy guitars) and style (a serious twist for speed/thrash and their technical/prog leanings). With respect to the sound production, the newly adopted extreme metal hybrid prompts for an excellent sound production and Eldritch easily acquire the desired result for all rock instrumentation and the vocals, albeit some may find the sound of the rhythm guitars somewhat (I repeat, somewhat) “compressed”. The latter are played by guitarist Eugene Simeone. Although his style in Reverse
brings little-to-none innovation as it is heavily influenced from bands such as Nevermore, Coroner, Machine Head and Pantera, his riffs are incredibly catchy and fresh, giving high replay value for every song. The work in lead guitars is also effective, as a good portion of it is a fantastic tribute to Tommy Vetterli from Coroner, while in the remainder, Simeone shreds in a rather “cacophonous” kind of way.
The high quality of the guitars is not the only treat of the record, though. The work of Sean Henderson in keyboards is awesome, as it adds something new with respect to how guitars and keys converse within a prog or extreme metal band. On occasion (“Reverse”, “Suffering Degree”), he adapts/distorts the main riff of the song for industrial/techno and strategically places his samples within them, so as to combine the delight of listening to both a good metal and industrial/electronica tune. As for the rest of the material, he crafts some really dystopic/minimal/sublime samples which fit perfectly inside the songs, regardless of their general mood, atmospheric or angry. The overall outcome, as well as the dedicated attachment of the rhythm section to the guitars could merit a reference to what Fear Factory are doing with their own demons, however Reverse
remains far from being characterized as an FF rip-off. This also holds due to the vocals of Terence Holler, whose voice shade is the only link connecting Reverse
to the previous three Eldritch releases. Holler's is not singing high pitch, while he sounds harsher and angrier than in before, especially in view of the lyrics describing the emotional distress the band went through after the release of El Nino
Instead of a proper prologue about repeating how awesome Reverse
is: The new album is a big bet for Eldritch and not only because they are striving for establishment within the roster of a big label such as Metal Blade records. In addition, and in the light of the turmoil caused after the release of El Nino
, the band seems to have recklessly left aside its awesome prog/power style in order to issue a spontaneous and pissed off manifesto about getting by against every drawback. In the light of the above, a highly interesting question arises as to how the new album will be received by prog fans, because the first verse of “Suffering Degree” clearly states that Eldritch are really “in the mood of breaking some rules” baring no remorse whatsoever.