Eldritch – Cracksleep (Scarlet Records)

Friday, 23rd March 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

No doubt the musical development of Italy’s Eldritch is a study in longevity and embracing outside influences while never losing the crux of one’s style. Originally more of a power/progressive metal-oriented act through their first couple of studio records, their third album El Ninõ made an indelible impression on the scene – adding AOR and technical thrash aspects to critical and audience acclaim. Since then, the 2000’s and current decade have seen Eldritch expand horizons into groove and thrash pastures – but never relinquishing their power/progressive metal roots. Cracksleep as the band’s 11th studio record keeps diversity top of mind, delivering numerous hooks and dynamic songs that can be dark and brooding, uplifting and magnificent, sending you on a journey of endless entertainment opportunities.

The magic and depth of skill sets guitarists Eugene Simone and Rudj Ginanneschi employ throughout the variety of material speaks to their professionalism and intuitive execution. Ramping up the technical chops on the progressive thrash effort “Aberration of Nature”, they’ll then a couple of songs later hone in on more of a mid-tempo, staccato-oriented Machine Head shuffle for “Silent Corner” – alleviating any chance of ear fatigue. The drumming of Raffahell Dridge has a sledgehammer precision on “Reset” and then thunderous flurries against a conventional slamming tempo for the very catchy “Night Feelings” – an asset that Eldritch utilize often. Keyboards provide that orchestral punch or offer another musical hook landing point – almost in an Evergrey/Kamelot-like montage for another favorite “Deep Frost”, the closing instrumental section of which harkens back to classical days. Meanwhile, vocalist Terence Holler continue to reflect the lyrics in his own unique, multi-octave range – passionate and vibrant as ever, all the way from the atmospheric, emotional ballad closer “Hidden Friend” on through to the AOR-rich harmonies for the chorus of “Reset”.

Much like their last album Underlying Issues, the appeal for Cracksleep can be that multiple audiences who love progressive, thrash, semi-modern groove, or power metal can dig deep into Eldritch and their outlook on the genre. Another European treasure that shows no signs of slowing down in the creative department, let’s hope for another decade of solid material.

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