Review Summary: Taking all of the elements found on their first album and improving each aspect with accurate precision, Degeneraterra is proof of a band looking to make their mark.
After riding the waves of obscurity for some time, Eidola have finally made their defining mark with the release of their sophomore album “Degeneraterra”. Newly signed to Dance Gavin Dance guitarist Will Swan’s record label, Eidola have taken everything they’ve learned on previous musical ventures and wrapped it up in a package that far exceeds previous attempts.
Right off the bat, frontman Andrew Well’s improvement in the vocal abilities he implements throughout the album stand out as an exceptional highlight. On tracks such as “Humble Ledger” and “The Great Deception of Marquis Marchosias”, he proves that he is just as capable of writing and performing melodies that are reserved as he is more determined and heavier sections. While his higher register on their previous album came out as strained, he shows much more control this time around too and knows exactly when to use it (as opposed to many other vocalists in the genre). The only complaint that I can find regarding his efforts on the album are the sometimes weaker backing melodies he uses on tracks such as “Omni: First Temple”.
Talking about vocalist Andrew Well’s talents, one other important aspect of the album are his lyrical themes that revolve around concepts of religion and philosophy, amongst other things. Carefully crafted to display a polarity of subjects throughout, each song is written with the overall scope of the album in mind as well as its own individual place in that story. One of my favorite examples of this is the first and last song on the album that are structured with the same lyrical stanzas, but opposite motifs regarding Angels and Demons. This is further demonstrated in the song titles whose English meanings are interpreted as “Hierarchy of Deamons” and “Book of Angels”.
While I can go on for some time about Andrew Well’s wide reaching vocal/written abilities, it’s the instrumentals that really create the foundation and set the course for this album. Holding strong to their more progressive roots, Eidola generally forgo choruses in place of longer song structures that start at one place and end up somewhere completely different. It’s the journey from beginning to end though that really keeps listeners, such as myself, interested as they display a strong use of dynamics throughout the albums 13 tracks. “Omega: Third Temple” is one song in particular that exemplifies this behavior. Branching off at one point from subdued vocals behind scattered guitar notes, the song goes through several stylistic changes until it reaches a climax that relies heavily on tremolo guitar to create a truly grandiose moment. It's parts like this that truly define some of the best aspects of the album. The only instrumental drawbacks found throughout Eidola’s sophomore release are sections that go on slightly longer than necessary or aren’t quite as interesting as other parts of the track. Considering that each song has more than enough unique and well-written parts scattered throughout though, I thankfully find it’s something usually pretty easy to ignore.
Although Eidola experiences some missteps here and there, Degeneraterra is truly a piece of work worthy of all the time and effort that no doubt went into making it. Even as an album whose sum comes across as greater than the individual work of its parts, I find every song to be an engaging piece that holds my interest throughout their extended track times that can lead up to six minutes in length. Considering the recent large influx of bands flocking to write in their genre commonly known as swancore, Eidola also does an incredible job of embracing some of their peer’s tendencies while still maintaining a unique identity of their own. In addition to this, the band also excels at drawing in inspiration from a wide range of other bands outside their scene, such as Tool, to diversify their sound. This is one key element that really sets their music apart from other bands who fall prey to the habit of drawing in ideas from only the immediate bands surrounding them. It’s these aspects and more that really come together to make Degeneraterra the unique and well written album it is. While I unfortunately can’t give it a perfect score, I feel like it sits pretty well at a 3.8 and displays a lot of qualities that are evident of a band that will only get better with time.
First off, thanks to anyone that took the time to read this! I’ve recently been trying to get back into some older artistic hobbies of mine which lead me to writing this review. Unfortunately I haven’t done much writing in quite awhile, but I think this turned out well and hopefully did some justice to the amazing album that Degeneraterra is. That being said, any comments or criticism for future reviews would definitely be welcomed. On a side note, this review is also written in the perspective of taking place right around the time that the album was released. Considering that no reviews for this album have been posted up to this point on here, it just made more sense for me to write in that perspective.