Aquila – The Great Fire (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 10th August 2022
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Previously gracing a Sifting Through Bandcamp column back in July 2020 for their Jewel of the Empire’s Crown EP, Ontario’s Aquila returns with another four-song EP for The Great Fire. Victim to the pandemic for full-on band get togethers in terms of the songwriting, the group also faced a lineup change with new guitarist Tony Medina entering the fold. Channeling that natural swirl of emotions into something dynamic, heavy, and diverse, listeners can expect another intriguing mix of melodeath and metalcore with progressive, thrash, and groove nuances.

The duality vocal-wise between main singer Mark Arruda capably backed up by Tony allows Aquila to convey a range of growls, roars, and screams – evident right out of the gate for the opening title track, an arrangement that starts off in a slower slumber before the Swedish melodeath riffs and twin harmony accents accelerate the tempo, soon allowing the groove/metalcore parts to damage limbs. The band are great at switching up elements genre-wise within the same song – semi-blast parts next to straightforward thrash or groove/modern metalcore movements – without losing the plot so to speak as far as chemistry, cohesion, and proper sense of flow. The eight-minute plus “Emperor’s Curse” incorporates all facets of these dynamics, pulling from influences like In Flames to God Forbid, or Lamb of God/Machine Head during slower sequences where the catchier lead breaks plus quieter vocals build anticipation for the next musical swirl. What’s most satisfying in terms of the performances, tones, and songwriting is the fact that these musicians never succumb to the low hanging fruit of predictable breakdowns or intricacy for the sake of showing off – the proof is in the solid construction of the material track by track.

Ideally ready for a full-length should they choose to go in that direction, Aquila strikes that excellent balance between aggression, heaviness, and constructing memorable earworms that keeps up listener engagement. The Great Fire embodies an ideal melodeath metalcore product – ready to take the band up from the underground into making worldwide impressions with their music.

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