Review Summary: On the merits of many.
Confession: I’m a sucker for specific niches of post-hardcore, mostly because of that shimmery guitar tone which comes off as iridescent in my mind’s eye.
On To Speak, To Listen
, Eidola definitely get down the key characteristics of the style that they play: the unpredictable drum patterns, the alternation of clean and harsh vocals, the simultaneous expression of pain and beauty. But wait. The familiarity of this model. That means I’ve heard these things before, haven’t I? Past reincarnations of this particular post-hardcore style, long lineages that can trace their origins to a certain long-necked bird. Oh well - similarities are no big matter, in the end, if things are done well here. I’m just hoping to add to my collection of bleeding hearts.
So I go into the first track, “The Abstract of a Planet in Resolve”, with a general idea of what I should expect. I’m rewarded with an initial burst of harsh vocals that quickly switches into soothing, dream-like harmonies. The drive of the song is no-nonsense, and upon reading the lyrics, I’m convinced that this musical call for a better world is sufficiently colourful enough to not be overrun by the wheels of repetition. “Tetelestai” gets more personal with its themes; its rapidly-firing instruments and fluid, shifting structure make it reasonably exciting, and once I encounter the fury of “Primitive Economics”, I’m slightly disappointed at its overall lack of ambient reprieve. The one taste that I get makes me crave it even more. “Querents” tells me to stop worrying; it promises to deliver with its light-footed introductory waltz, but it clings onto its requisite peak for a little too long.
When I get to “Amplissimus Machina”, I’m wondering if I have heard this song before. It doesn’t really break into any ground that hasn’t been already covered by previous tracks. It’s only at the stop-start pattern at the end that it takes on its own proper identity. Hands clasped, I patiently await whatever surprise may come next. And lo and behold, there comes the tranquil “Loti”, which uses a climactic chorus accentuating a gorgeous guitar motif that seems as if it hangs around in blue skies. I appreciate that Eidola hasn’t given me a heart attack by inserting something overly tumultuous afterwards; indeed, “Dendrochronology” practically floats on a bed of resonating chords, and its aquatic feel pulls me into an underwater trance for the better part of two minutes. “The Familiar” opens my eyes with its curious hard-rock tinge; might I actually be feeling a little guilty for thinking that I was missing out on originality? The funky, dub-style bassline of “Houses Movement III: Rust/Rebuild” suggests that my guilt isn’t unjustified; this song is straight-up spicy
, and it’s a stylistic breath of fresh air.
The conspicuous spiritual inclination of “Sri Vishnu Yantra” and the “Transcendentium” two-parter affirms the direction that To Speak, To Listen
takes. “Dendrochronology” had name-dropped Siddhartha, a.k.a. the Buddha, but being inept at following lyrics I confess that I didn’t become aware of this underlying theme until now. “Sri Vishnu Yantra” and “Transcendentium: Part I: Zoroastrian” are suitably meditative, the former even featuring a spoken-word section that mercifully fits coherently into the song. However, with sadness, I must report that “Transcendentium Part II: Fourth Temple” is the odd one out of the trio. It’s unusually uniform and missing the emotional resolution that a closing piece should give. And, what’s worse, I have to charge it with the crime of being generic.
To Speak, To Listen
is close to breaking out of the mold. Even within the established framework, there are many moments of ambient beauty that make it worthwhile. Nestlings must learn to fly on their own, and I think Eidola will be able to find their way to the skies.