Review Summary: Groove, electronics, technicality, and melody
ECO was released around the same time as project EGO, in EGO David tackles the way in which his projects come to fruition from Define to Devise. It's a dark and groove centric effort, and then theres ECO which is the complete opposite of that. ECO is very serene, vibrant, and soulful, a complete contrast to the EGO project.
ECO is probably David's most emotionally charged effort to date (although that's not to say his Bilo projects do not have their fair share of emotion). ECO begins this notion right out of the gate with Universe in a Crayon, a beautifully constructed piece that was composed with the upmost of passion and desire. The track features a multitude of classical instruments such as piano, violin and cello. It completely engroces the words peaceful, wonderful, and majestic.
Immediately after groove based Satellite offers a fantastic prog venture of meaty guitars and also a roaring bass tone. The drums are quite high in the mix which is something I see people complaining about David for, but it is truly something you love or hate in my opinion. For example, I love it because the snare sounds so huge, it really brings the track to life imo. Overall I think this track definitely succeeds in what it sets out to do, its massive chorus fills me with enthusiasm and joy every time I hear it.
Guest guitar solo in this song by Richard Henshall (from Haken) is probably one of my favorite guitar solo's of all time, this guitar solo is masterfully phrased and performed, it really brings a tear to my eye. The solo features string skipping, tapping; and great use of intervals, a perfect solo for all of the guitar nerds that say "David's songs dont have many shred solos". This solo is not only shredding, but is a perfect balance of all different modern guitar playing styles, wonderfully pleasant in so many ways. Around the end portion of the track, there is a section with just David and his guitar. How wonderful and refreshing it is for an artist to take literally a minute of just guitar doodling of a track, quite admirable to me I have to say. David's guitar playing compared to Dan is nowhere near as flashy or technical as Dan's, but some how stays just as captivating as the latter. This is one of many reasons that make me love David so much.
Although as much as there is things I enjoy about this track, there is also some things that could have been better, like the song length overall I feel could have been shortened, and some sections overstay their welcome quite a lot. In fact, most tracks on the album could have been cut short in some subtle ways, especially the track 500 Seconds Before Sunset, its lengthy runtime can become tiresome overtime as it can get kind of a repetitive beat throughout the entire track.
This EP probably has the most guest vocal spots on any of David's EPs. Vocal features are on tracks Satellite, The Flock, and Stardust, and to be honest, I dont really know if these tracks necessarily 'needed' these vocal spots in these tracks, all that I can say is these parts dont ruin the songs for me at all, and all of them add at least a little something to them in some way. For example The Flock is a very stripped back track that has a beautiful soundscape to it, and Scampi's vocals fit the music fantastically, probably the weakest track on the album but that is not at all a bash towards the song for me. Also Miyoki's performance on Stardust is absolutely beautiful, such a passionate performance, she absolutely did an incredible job with the vocals on this track. Satellite is probably my least favorite in terms of the vocals because the vocalist just is not really my preferred vocal style, although that's not to say he hasn't got a great voice because he absolutely does.
Tracks 500 Seconds Before Sunset, Voda, and Stardust are the best the project has to offer imo because these tracks display the perfect blend between great groove, emotion and electronic elements. Although a bit lengthy, the beautiful tranquil atmosphere in 500 Seconds and its wonderful mix of EDM and prog rock styles is definitely resonates with me on quite a few levels. Also enveloped with emotion, Stardust (which is the closer to the album) just oozes brilliance and grandiose, it makes my heart ache, never have I ever heard a track that almost brings me to tears as much as this one. And Voda, how peaceful, how tranquil, how vibrant, how heart-warming is this barely even 2 minute track.
I see this EP as an evolution upon other contemporaries within the Progressive Metal vein such Dream Theater, Periphery and so on, but David adds a nice unique and (in my opinion) refreshing take on the genre of music as a whole. Adding some lofi beats, synth wave sections, and a lot of electronic elements really makes this EP shine in a very serene way. Although comparing this EP to David's Bilo projects is tough because one would argue those where more creative than this project, I think it is a very close scuffle between the projects as some elements where done better in the Bilo projects and some where done better on this one.
Overall the EP will definitely impress people who enjoy some great groove sections, great guitar playing and some really atmospheric sections too. It's got a great mix of a lot of styles and I think it works swimmingly despite perhaps its overly lengthy portions that probably could have been shortened down just a little bit. Although instrumental, I think ECO has a lot to say even without the aid of lyrics in most cases, and this is the crux of my joy for the project as this aspect resonates with me on quite an emotional level. If you are interested in something out of the box and different from other types of Progressive Metal projects out there, this may be the project for you.