Eldritch – Underlying Issues (Scarlet Records)Thursday, 5th November 2015
Spanning 24 years and now 10 studio albums, any act is bound to let ‘underlying issues’ subside for the sake of longevity – such is the case for Italy’s Eldritch. A survivor of the power/progressive metal deluge of 1990’s in a country that had its fair share of Dream Theater wannabes, this quintet carves out heavier nuances as they glide into this eleven track record.
The melody factor often comes from unexpected places musically – a particular trailing guitar hook, a solid groove, or an echoing keyboard passage that cements itself early on and then loops around the other song elements. Check out “Danger Zone” (a lot of darker Evergrey meets neo-classical off-time chops here), the mid-tempo swaying “Bringers of Hate” or the biting “Piece of Clarity” for Eldritch’s varied maneuvers to capture the listener’s attention while still maintaining a high level of power and progressiveness. Lead guitarist Eugene Simone engages the aural space with proper respect for individual arrangements – able to shred and simultaneously pick his spots for memorable sparseness, as “Broken” illustrates the duality brilliantly.
Vocalist Terence Holler has a rare quality to his voice that puts him in unique company. Floating mid-range notes in kind of that sinister snarl that gave Jon Oliva and Charles Rytkonen their metal voices but adding in that progressive, airy melodic slant, one listen to “All and More” or the up-tempo closer “Slowmotion K Us” makes me believe that despite any lack of bird call propensities normally associated in the genre no other singer works better for the band. The multi-level cover art also mirrors the possible multi-level title implications – mental food for thought indeed.
El Niño represents Eldritch’s peak from their vast discography – while 2011’s Gaia’s Legacy showed the band’s ability to juggle a little more Forbidden-oriented thrash bursts into the proceedings. Underlying Issues pushes the band into heavier/current pastures yet never forsaking their established power/progressive metal roots, making it well worth your time and energy to invest actively. Perfect for those who love a musical stew of Annihilator, Evergrey, and Fates Warning.