Review Summary: Children of the sea, the sky, the Earth.
Few may have heard of Mandroid Echostar, a six-piece Progressive Metal band whose name (an interesting one too) might just be about to become well known in the scene, at a national or even international level. Fact is that they've spent well over a year working on a debut EP that aims to see its listeners amazed ; one that might just precede a very successful career.
As soon as the EP starts playing it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary modern Metal band. On Mandroid Echostar
, every member feels like an indispensable element on the lineup. Matt H-K’s drumming serves as a great backbone to the rest of the band, while displaying a very insightful input, but never going over the top or smothering the rest of the band. “Hexaton” is the song in which Matt shines the brightest, delivering a wide range of playing techniques and excelling in them all ; bassist Adam Richards makes for an ever present, groovy bass that guides and delights the listener throughout the whole EP. Check “The Percursor” or that beginning of “Hexaton” for a great bass input – all the right notes, wonderful execution and an incredible feeling – Richards knows what he’s doing.
Staggering, immense, beautiful. These are just a few of the many adjectives I can find while examining Mandroid Echostar’s guitar work. James Krul, Sam Pattinson and Stephen Richards are the men taking this release to higher heights. While James seems to take care of most of the monochord and palm muted riffs (in a classy way too), he also puts out a helping hand on Sam and Stephen’s rich lead work. Said lead work is constantly enhanced by precise harmonization, or by a simple and equally precise layering work that adds to the bright, beautiful nature of the riffs. Take the solo just a bit over the second minute of “The Percursor” as living proof of these guys’ talent. Or the whole first minute of “Kingdom And The Crown”, in which the complex nature of the Protest The Hero-esque
riffs seem like no obstacle for the godlike trio. Or that same song’s chorus. Or any section of any song on the EP (basically), as there are no “down” moments for the guitars on this release. Having all this said, each guitar knows its place in each and every section. As a result of thoughtful songwriting, by no point the songs feel bloated or overwhelming – the inclusion of slower passages by the end of the first halves of the first three songs are game changing, and not only feel like adding to the widely sensible and excellent songwriting, they also give the listener some space to regroup and marvel on the band’s creativity. So not only does the band (and mainly the guitarists) know how to deliver highly technical, intricate Metal (“Hexaton”…? Check), they also do know how to “step it down” a few notches and create beautiful, sometimes haunting Prog-Metal moments (… and check).
If Mandroid Echostar
was a cake, Michael “The Cheech” Ciccia would certainly be the cherry on its top. If you’ve heard Coheed And Cambria at some point of your life, you’ll know that The Cheech’s voice sounds at least familiar. Now, while Michael seems directly influenced by Claudio Sanchez from Coheed And Cambria, he stands as a very original singer on his own. Matter of fact, The Cheech holds a very heartfelt delivery, and sounds better than many even dare to dream of sounding like. Besides his high vocal range, The Cheech knows how to let the instruments breathe and never comes off pretentious in his singing. Adding to the already great vocal input comes guest vocalist Adam Lambert (Farewell To Freeway) , who delivers two lines on “Lost Luminaries” and takes control over “Hexaton” by its last minute, partnering up with the rest of the band to deliver the heaviest moment of the release. One can’t help but wish to have more of these inputs throughout the EP, as it really adds to the dynamic nature of the album, one subject that The Cheech by himself still has a great weight on. Best moment of the album vocals-wise? “Lost Luminaries”, the whole of it. The group chanting part is a remarkable one, and so is the part in which Adam Lambert comes forth, and the last minute of said song, where The Cheech and guitarrist James Krul team up to deliver a memorable ending to the song. But it doesn’t stop there. Besides handling guitar and vocal work, James Krul also plays the keyboards for the band. The quality of this input is on par with everything the band has accomplished on their debut. Examples of essential keyboards usage come scattered around the EP. The chorus of “Kingdom And The Crown” wouldn’t be the same without it, the last minute of “Lost Luminaries” has an extremely intense atmosphere going on also provided by great synth – keyboards were certainly a great idea.
Playing over 19 minutes, Mandroid Echostar
is packed with technical work, seamless song structures and an atmosphere that grabs our attention from the first second. Adding to all of this, the lyrics for it are incredibly well written. As soon as I started following the already perceptible voice of The Cheech with a textual support, I got hooked and only stopped when the music stopped. The lyrics seem focused on mysticism and on our standing as human beings within the kingdom of Mother Nature. It makes for a compelling conceptual-like narrative and hum, did I mention that they're also incredibly well written yet?
I’ve spoken volumes about what makes Mandroid Echostar
such a brilliant release, but what unequivocally makes the band’s efforts come together in the best way possible is the production. Jordan Valeriote (Dead and Divine, Silverstein, Structures) engineered, mixed and co-produced the EP, while renowned mastering engineer Roger Lian (Rush, Muse, Deftones, The Mars Volta) mastered it. The outcome is the best produced release I’ve came across in a while. Every single instrument sounds perfectly mixed and integrated in each and every song, and so do the vocals. Masterful work.
The Mandroid Echostar
EP is one to write home about. Every instrument adds to the experience in a continuous sequence and every song becomes familiar fast, in a good way too. There’s plenty to look at here – to grasp the essence of the album in one play might present a challenge. The beauty of it is that for such a full-fledged release, it will hardly leave you with something less than a strong first impression. If anything from Art By Numbers to Periphery tingles your senses, chances are that the imminent strong impression is bound to settle and grow into a bigger level of appreciation.
A new band arises to take the world by storm, and the inquisitiveness settles where their debut ends: How will they capitalize upon this formula in the future? Will they be able to deliver with this quality without forcing new elements into their sound, or will they run out of ideas? Either way, it will surely be very interesting to see what Mandroid Echostar do next.