ELDRITCH (ITA) – Eos, 2021 🇬🇧
Every now and then the Italian beast roars. We are not talking about Etna, but about ELDRITCH, the eruptive band that never gives up. Decorated with a cover and a title that reminds us of Greek mythology, Eos means for the Florentines to have reached the not inconsiderable figure of twelve studio albums. The ELDRITCH who have endured the vicissitudes of time on this punished planet present themselves in 2021 with some new faces and an emotional reunion. The debut of bassist Dario Lastrucci (SUBHUMAN, SUICIDAL CAUSTICITY) gives an extra forcefulness to the increasingly groovy progressive metal of the Italians. But undoubtedly, and although the contribution of the new bassist is remarkable in Eos, it also means the return of keyboardist Oleg Smirnoff, who had played in the first stage of the band, that of albums like Seeds of rage, Headquake and El niño. Currently, also a member of another classic metal band from Lombardy, LABYRINTH, Oleg‘s contribution in Eos has meant a certain change with respect to Cracksleep, adding a more fantastic and, I would even dare to say, science fiction component to the already characteristic sound of the band.
As with their last few albums, Eos is an album to be digested nicely. And, once you get the hang of it, it becomes essential. That is why ELDRITCH‘s discography is pure gold; almost all the albums they have made can be catalogued today as timeless progressive metal. A brief intro that serves as Oleg‘s initial greeting after his long absence, gives way to one of the catchiest cuts on the album. «Failure of faith» is an excellent sample of the current ELDRITCH, which in essence have not changed with respect to what they have been doing in the last decade but where it is quite noticeable that they have wanted to cling more than ever to the purely Italian progressive of bands like LABYRINTH, virtuosity in keys and guitars, power metal overtones, fantasy ambience, a demolishing rhythmic base that’s very thrasher; together with the portentous voice of Terence Holler, an illustrious character who deserves a marble statue, who at fifty years old sings as if he was twenty, chiselling choruses destined to last in time.
The whole first part of the album is truly brilliant. «The cry of a nation» leaves aside the Italian power metal to offer us the hardest and most extreme side of the band, one of those songs that NEVERMORE could have signed with a high dose of progressive and thrash metal, even with the addition of gutturals. Instrumentally impeccable. Next comes «Circles«, presented as a single and with its corresponding video clip. Here they pull off the keyboards again, in a song that comes to characterize the style that the band has been practising since Gaia’s legacy when, with the signing of the drummer Raffael Dridge, the band gained a plus of groove. If MACHINE HEAD wanted to make Italian progressive metal, they would probably come out with songs like «Circles«. After a more rambunctious and mid-tempo «No obscurity«, comes what for me is the jewel in the crown of the album: «Sunken dreams«. The whole band shines in this cut that reminds us at times of the current SYMPHONY X. If I had to tell someone who doesn’t know the band how good Terence Holler is, I would put «Sunken dreams» on loop. What a way to rock you and what memorable memories that chorus brings back to Andi Deris‘ best HELLOWEEN.
The second half of the album is one that contains tracks that don’t quite stick with the first half and require a more attentive listen. «Fear me» is a rather nougaty and thrasher cut in which they include, perhaps in a somewhat forced way, those keyboards so typical of VISION DIVINE. But they fix it from the middle onwards both with an exquisite piano part and with the duel between Oleg and the guitarist Eugene, another basic pillar of the band.
The ballad of the album comes in the form of «I can’t believe it«. Perhaps one of the most expendable songs on the album. The classical piano base is fine, the cello and violin contributions of the new bass player are also good, but perhaps they have overused an artificial percussion that tries to give that soft and modern touch. It seems that they have included the ballad for the simple fact that a progressive metal album has to contain a ballad. Fortunately «The Awful Closure» is back on the same path as «Circles«, power and technical mastery in equal parts. Perhaps what might be lacking here are some very unoriginal vocal lines.
The title track is the big one. I had a hard time getting the hang of it because it starts off very calm and progressive, but without a doubt, it is another piece to let yourself be enraptured by Eugene Simone‘s guitars. I think it’s a track that breathes a lot of the greats of the scene like FATES WARNING and therefore it’s one of the closest to classic progressive metal. Finally, the band chooses the formula of a cover, something they have already done in other albums, and this time it is surprising that the chosen band has been BON JOVI with their «Runaway«. Of course, they have added some heavier guitars, but as far as keyboards are concerned, it maintains the AOR essence and the eighties flavour that has always been present in ELDRITCH to a greater or lesser extent.
Translated by Irene López