15 July 2017

Echotime - Side

Echotime are a band who I cannot find out that much about, but I do have a few pieces of information before I start the review of the second album 'Side'.  They hail from Italy, their style is a mixture of jazz, pop, rock, latin and funk music, with further influences from the soundtracks from action and adventures movies.  Their main focus of their sound is progressive rock/metal and this album is a concept record which according to their press release from Rockshots records (and I quote) "is a journey through an allegorical world where all the narrated lives are blended together by music which create different atmosphere story by story".  Now, this is quite a big claim, but it is also something that a lot of other prog bands make similar claims all the time. Is 'Side' going to be any different to be honest? Now, a few of the songs are accompanied with a short segue track, so I will merge both of these together with the next song as I go through the album.

01 - In-Side/ 02 - Mr. Valentine

After the short introduction piece 'In-side', Echotime launch into a classic rock/metal song that sounds like a cross between Extreme, Living Colour and Dream Theatre.  It has a massive riff in the chorus, the funk driven verses are brilliant and it grabs the listeners attention straight away.  There is also a retro vibe going through this, but with the modern production Echotime are winning me over from the start.

03 - The Fourth Estate/ 04 - The Lighthouse

Another short segue track and then Echotime start with 'The Lighthouse', this time they are on full prog mode.  There are harsh dynamics, there are horns, layer upon layer of synths and double blast drumbeats, it is a massive song and sounds great.  However, I have heard other bands deliver similar material and it had the same effect.  Not saying this does not sound good, but it there is a familiar sound to this track.

05 - Money/ 06 - Sickness

Now there is a little bit of 90's grunge/alternative rock running through the veins of this number, adding yet another dimension to this prog record.  The song is a moody number, one that has dark depths that could take you over.  Being a man who was around the first time grunge took over the world, it is interesting to see it mixed with prog and it has unleashed a fantastic beast with 'Sickness'.

07 - 'Addiction'/ 08 - Hymn of Glory

The sound of the Middle East of the world has been added to this song, once again giving it a new dimension, albeit one that has been explored by many acts over the years.  It is well played, these guys are really good at making metal sound large and important (something that is missing from the pop end of the market), but I am not as engaged with this song as it is one I have heard by other acts before.

09 - Millstone/ 10 - The Orphanage

Another slice of dramatic progressive metal/rock here with a vocal delivery that could be the soundtrack of nightmares and horror films, but in the best possible way.  They add further darkness to their already burden sound and it makes for a thrilling song, one that keeps you captivated and the album moving in the right direction.

11 - The Bends of Love

A song without an introduction of segue!!!  There is a feeling of the funfair to this song, it feels like it could have been created for 'The Last Temptation' album by Alice Cooper, it would have been a fantastic song for the showman Alice to perform. However, this is not saying that Echotime do not nail it, they hit the mark perfectly as they hit the classic prog rock/metal with ease.  It is a great song, one that ends with a brilliant coda that makes the world fade from view for a few moments, as you are immerse yourself in the experience.

12 - Lust & Desire/ 13 - The River

Progressive music is always about drama, if there is not drama, it is not prog.  To say they are laying it on thick with 'The River' is akin to say that the politics of the world at the moment are a little crazy, as they add so much emotional baggage to this song that it needs a trolley to move it.  It is well performed, it gives a welcome break to the metal element of the album and lets the keyboards flex their muscles at this point.  A decent number, but not one that makes sense.

14 - Black Dunes/ 15 - Stream of Life

This album is playing with the devil as it progresses, getting darker with every beat of its wounded heart and I am enjoying every step.  It is another slab of progressive metal that keeps things slow and steeped in sorrow, this is not a happy song on the slightest.  But why would we want this drama to sound happy, it needs that emotive downward spiral as the album heads towards the exit.  I love the sound of the band here, they have once again kept me listening and enthralled.

16 - I Have Seen.... / 17 - Freakshow (The)/ 18 - Out-side

There are so many styles happening on this ending trio make up for a dramatic ending to a very dramatic album, this time they have taken a lesson from Devin Townsend and turned everything up to maniac and let the hounds of hell loose.  The story that has been played out comes to a dramatic conclusion, the sound of hell's own personal circus comes to town and everything burns.  As ends go, I think it fits the album perfectly.

First off, these guys have a sound that I can only describe as being the illegitimate offspring of a one night affair of Dream Theatre and 'Operation: Mindcrime Part 1' era Queensrÿche, but with fresh ideas and timings.  They have a lot of talent, a huge amount of ambition and they have a drive and passion which helps brings this album and story to life.  If it has a fault, it does try to be everything to everyone, which is both its blessing and its curse.  It sometimes disrupts the flow of the record, but only slightly as these guys are talented boys. Personally, I would have added the segue tracks onto other sings and be done with it.  But that is just my opinion and I can see the argument as to why they were added separately. Also, they have kept the songs very short and compact for a prog album, this is a refreshing change for me and it adds another layer of intrigue to this record.  My prog love can come and go, but I know quality when I hear it and this band has an interesting sound that keeps on giving.  They are only two albums into their career, I am sure that they will only get better with each record, for now - it is prog dear reader, but not as we know it with this good album, one that has been a joy to listen to.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

You can purchase Side from Amazon here.

You can visit the Echotime website here. 

You can follow the activities of Echotime on Facebook here. 

You can stream Side on Deezer here. 

You can stream Side on Spotify here. 

You can stream Side on Tidal here. 

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