Review from Makeshift Altars
Posted by Nick Skog on Thursday, September 3, 2020 Under: English
From: Makeshift Altars
Published: September 2, 2020
You can't not attract me with an ISIS inspired name like Wills Dissolve. That's my favorite track off of Panopticon, c'mon now. Not that Wills Dissolve, whom I will henceforth refer to as WD to avoid confusion, have anything to do with ISIS or post metal (maybe a little bit); but hot damn do they pretty well live up to such a name.
WD are a progressive metal band at heart with healthy smatterings of blackened death metal, and Echoes is their new half-hour tirade on the emotion that accompanies spaghettification. As a single song, Echoes functions similarly to the myriad other progressive epics of its ilk, and thus reminds me heavily of such contemporaries. Specifically, it feels incredibly like Green Carnation's Light of Day, Day of Darkness, though half as long, as well as a fair bit of Opeth's discography. While in this way it does feel somewhat derivative, I have to say it holds an enormous weight on its shoulders, evident from the opening moments thru to the end, and justifies its existence as a single piece of music. There are a couple modes that WD move thru to make a behemoth song make sense and they are as follows: atmospheric clean stuff, prog rock noodly stuff, and heavy ass death metal... stuff. Descriptive, I know. But it seems fitting that I break each of these pieces down on their own to lighten the load of such a record.
Firstly, the atmospheric stuff sets the scale of Echoes perfectly. There is an art to presenting an epic as exactly what it is: a monolithic piece of art. Part of that art seems inevitably to be having these ambient intros and interludes to break up the action. Echoes opens with a tapestry of soft synths, clean guitars, and samples of NASA mission dialogue between mission control and crew. Immediately it is evident WD intend to paint a mural of agoraphobic emotions with the immensity of their mix and of their composition. Before the soothing, masculine vocals even seep into the scene, it is easy to get lost in the image presented. There are many sections like this as Echoes progresses, where minimal instrumentation and the near-operatic cleans take over telling the deep space themed story of a man lost in space, bound for a distant event horizon. The vocals here are exceptional at conveying the melancholic, all-hope-is-lost sort of feeling, while also sounding overtly triumphant. This is a story of an unsung hero venturing into the "challenger deep of the milky way", and the gambit of emotions on display is quite something to behold, on all fronts.
Next, the progressive noodly bits, which are initially what made me fall in love with Echoes. The first one on the album to crop up feels like it was pulled out of Stewart Copeland's soundtrack for Spyro. They all tend to evoke this sensation of wonder, with energetic clean guitar and bass that bounces and pulls the whole arrangement forward into new frontiers. It's a special talent to make music that sounds this bubbly and organic, especially alongside what comes next. However, there's always that bit of hopelessness you know is around the corner, and these sections tend not to last long. They are almost always taken over by the crushing blackened edge that revolves around this albums gorgeous core of dynamic movements.
Last, the metal. What, no doubt, plenty of people come for. I don't have a whole lot to say about the heavy parts; they are perhaps my least favorite sections. That's not to say they are bad: they take on a presence akin to Damnation-era Opeth mixed with a hefty scoop of Ceremony of Silence. Crushing rhythm guitars overtake somewhat dissonant leads and pounding beats that drag the beautiful center of this album down beyond the point of no return. It is here that the helplessness becomes utter defeat, as the music reflects the hostility of what was once beautiful. The universe doesn't care about our protagonist, and as his body is martyred by the coming mass, the lines I find to be the crux of Echoes is delivered: "Life support disengaged". We all knew it was coming, and as it confronts us the music slows to an absolute crawl before ramping back into a triumphant eulogy.
It's hard not to feel something in Echoes. It is a project WD evidently care about deeply, expressing emotions of dying alone, of facing the vastness of space as an inevitable end. It is the feeling of staring into an absolutely dark night sky, counting infinite stars. It usually isn't in me to write this poetically about albums, especially when I think about them day in and day out. But Echoes caught me off guard in quite the right way. It has been a long time since I've hear Light of Day, Day of Darkness, a song I used to revere for its monolithic length. Now, I feel like Wills Dissolve (the band, they deserve their name said fully) have surpassed even that achievement, making a record that feels massive, memorable, unforgettable. Echoes should be on your must play list, no matter how you feel, and you should lay down outside when it starts to cool down, stick this album in your ear holes, and meditate on why you don't want to die floating in space. It's all gonna be okay. Wills Dissolve says so.
Reviewed by: Dalton
In : English
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