- Album Reviews

Ethereal Architect – Monolith

Hey folks!

You know, the progressive metal scene is vast and filled with all sorts of flavours and everyone can find something for their specific taste.

But if you you look at it from afar, you notice that some of the formulae out there make the bands and sub-genres converge into a small range – especially with the “progressive vocals” that we all know and love. Think normal distribution; although there are many aspects that can distinguish on band or sub-genre from another, especially to the trained ear, the true outliers who make you stop on your tracks and go “hmmm, what is this then?” are very rare.

That brings me to our true outlier today, Ethereal Architect!

I am one of those who like variation in their music. If, throughout an album or even a song, the feeling of sameness prevails, I pretty quickly zone out. These guys are very well versed in their twists and turns and kept me locked on their tunes throughout. I can tell you that contrast is in the DNA of this album – both amongst and within the songs.

And the creators of this goodness, we have four guys – pretty impressive musicians. Their unique approach yields very good riffs, tight sound structures and brilliant performances. It is very high quality progressive metal and I can tell you right now, you will love the clean vocals and the melodic tunes throughout!

Seriously! Tunes are very intriguing – some parts there are downright Latin with the other end full of eclectic, extremely metal builds. The album fulfills all your technical satisfaction needs as would be expected from a progressive metal goodness. From beautiful keys to guitars ranging from clean to razor sharp heavy, and to brilliant vocals it is the complete package.

There’s a subtle aggression and heaviness to their sound… It is just the right amount so much so that it would satisfy both the heavy addicts and those who are not very accustomed to it. David’s (Glass) mad skills are what mainly creates the darker, more forceful sound. All the riffs on offer here are yumm!

Adam Contreras is pretty unique and this is actually one of the more prominent aspects of their music that makes them an outlier. His vocals are very powerful, soulful, impressive… different. Also, I believe his Spanish is a good added value to the album – when you least expect, songs switch vibes and languages even. I’m very much into using everything you have to offer variations – me likey…

As for the vibe, their control over it, the games they play with it comprise the second bit that make Ethereal Architect a very different band. The atmosphere jumps around all throughout the album from downright heavy metal to prog rock.. At times, Latin feel creeps in and all these are just around the corner to scratch where it itches… There are several songs in the album which are the epitomes of this diversity; they feature a several different sounds all in one place.

Of course, Adam’s skills may be one the few things that makes their album unique but I shouldn’t make you feel like he is all there is to it – melodies, solos, riffs, the rhythm, that is everything else that create the perfect medium for Adam to showcase his skills are very important.

Thad Stevens is fortifying everything with his beautiful fretless bass lines in uncanny ways. Jake Koenig’s drums are absolutely fantastic from start to finish. Of course, the role of percussions in the Latin bits are very important.

Overall, beautiful sound, masterful production – a very good classical progressive album with a refreshing, unique approach.

Now, on to the songs!

I never pass up a chance to headbang to your classic headbang song especially if there are catchy hooks there! Kalingois loud, heavy and melodic. Beast of an opener! The song grabbed my attention instantly – I would say, this one is probably the best tune in the album. Very good frantic drumming, shredding guitars, distorted riffs, all ooze charisma and technical prowess! Addictive from the first listen.


Source: Cheezburger.com

As can be seen in Oceans, these guys can do acoustic as well. The song, actually a good showcase of their capabilities, begins with a clean intro that kicks off into a nice heavy riff… Vocals are soft and at places, thick. Very tasteful layering job throughout. Drum fades into oblivion first and a classy solo fades into the sound of rain – tasty!

Revolutions is another showcase – this time for David’s command of his instrument! The feats he pull in this number are so sick, I am not ashamed to say that I lost my cool a couple of times throughout the song 🙂 Pace, choice of tones, phrasing… a very enjoyable roller coaster ride!

Obscura is a nice little flavour in the album – the same way all the other obscure things in life 🙂 Not very representative of their overall style, the song sets itself apart from the rest of the album. The first time I saw my name – albeit, with the origin meaning, dark – it was pure bliss. But believe me when I say, my love for this song is far from a personal reaction. The song is beautiful, to say the least.

Since it does not fit in with my general taste in music, I find it harder to explain its beauty – it just is a cool breeze… so very different from the rest of the album. The bits where Adam hits the high notes are very impressive – the band again show their ability to come up with beautiful vocal harmonies. Time signatures are very good… Ten out of ten!

Submission brings more diversity with percussions giving the song a more traditional vibe and a Latin feel which works even better when followed by the heavy riffs and drums. Like they did in Oceans, Submission starts off with a short acoustic intro and ties in to the riffs when the song explodes into a frantic guitar phrase accompanied by aggressive vocals, solid drum work and blaring bass. Then it goes back to acoustics with impressive changes in vocals – it is as if someone else picks up the song. It is as if Adam showing us what he could do, a little taste of his capabilities.

Mc Arthur is a tasteful finish to the album. The main riff will stay with you for a long while, it is beautiful. As for th vocals, very good melodies and brilliant delivery! The song features a number of great performances from each and every member in turns… vocals covering quite a range again with low notes and screams. Overall, with the rich drums, a full sound experience!

All in all, I am loving the album and I expect myself to come back to it over and over again. Diverse but cohesive sound throughout. If you are on the prowl for something different and fresh while keeping to its progressive metal roots, I recommend Monolith!

You can find more about Ethereal Architect here!

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