(EchO) – Head First Into Shadow

It’s not always easy to speak objectively about a band when you’ve had the opportunity to get to know its members, especially when they turn out to be guys driven by great passion, talent and above all humility.¬†(EchO), fortunately, have made things easier than expected: their new Head First Into Shadow, in fact, is certainly not a work that requires a particular benevolence on the part of the reviewer because it can be called the worthy successor of the already excellent Devoid Of Illusions. That magnificent first full-length constituted, at the time of its release (2011), a pleasant surprise, the more so because the Brescian band was able to manipulate in a personal way the always difficult doom material, enriching it with post metal nuances that did not distort at all the matrix of a sound more melancholic than dark; the album was recorded in the London studios of the guru Greg Chandler (Esoteric), a musician who has written a good part of the history of funeral and surroundings, and the fact that a band (moreover Italian) could use the help of a character of such fame was symptomatic of what was its potential. If Devoid of Illusions widely demonstrated that this credit was not absolutely usurped, the long discographic silence that followed, combined with the abandonment of the band by vocalist Antonio Cantarin, made it not entirely obvious that ours could, at least, to confirm at that level. Meanwhile, for Head First into Shadow, (EchO) have decided to do everything themselves, relying on Chandler only for the final mastering and if, at the time, was the same British musician to appear as a guest in the song Sounds From Out Of Space, here the prestigious external contributions are two,¬†those of Daniel Droste, vocalist of Ahab, “melvillian” champions of the German funeral, and Jani Ala-Hukkala of the Finnish Callisto, among the precursors of that mixture of rarefied melodies and extreme sounds that would later take the name of post metal. The presence of these two musicians, representing bands that, in some way, are the two opposite poles of a certain way of composing dark, melancholic and evocative music, clearly delineates which is the territory within which (EchO) go to range with the same mastery demonstrated just under a five years ago: the six songs proposed, for a total duration of fifty minutes, bring the band back to the place that competes, the top of a musical movement that has its roots in doom but with an oblique approach, like what was done a few months ago by the equally good Plateau Sigma. On the occasion of the concert in Imperia in the company of the latter, I had the chance to listen to a preview of four of the songs that have come together in Head First Into Shadow, being pleasantly impressed at first listen, and savor them again in a cleaned up version from the roughness resulting from the live impact has not made me change my opinion. The album opens as it couldn’t be better, with a magnificent Blood And Skin, a track under the sign of a melodic and painful death doom, driven by an inspired guitarism and by the absolutely appropriate voice of the new entry Fabio Urietti, persuasive enough in the clean parts and angry as needed in the growl passages. The first minute of A Place We Used To Call Home turns out to be only partially deceptive, because if it’s true that the relaxed pace is rippled by a sudden surge, it must be said that the song always keeps its dreamy and melodic aura. Beneath This Lake, with the contribution of Daniel Droste, brings back again to the darker moods of the opening track, to flow then in passages close to sludge in its descending part; really, this is a song that is the perfect business card to propose to those who want to approach (EchO), because here there is everything: the delicacy of post metal, the (in)sustainable heaviness of the most extreme doom, electronic nuances that underpin the most intense passages, in short, a kaleidoscopic alternation of feelings. Following Gone, which sees the participation of the other guest Ala-Hukkala, exhibits perhaps the most usable moments in the immediate of the entire work, also explicating the artistic maturity of this group of musicians: the sound flows slowly, evocative and, above all, fluid, of course, Head First into Shadow can not be dismissed nor even less try to describe after a few distracted listening, here we are in the presence of music that must be processed with a patience that will be directly proportional to the amount of emotions that will be able to make us feel. The last two episodes shore up the value of an excellent work: A New Maze represents the moment in which (EchO) reach the maximum point of closeness to their friends Plateau Sigma, while Order Of The Nightshade closes the curtain with its dramatic tones, enhanced by the voice of Urietti that lashes the sound wall erected by the talented and punctual Simone Saccheri and Mauro Ragnoli (guitars), Agostino Bellini (bass), Paolo Copeta (drums) and Simone Mutolo (keyboards). Who was expecting a work that consecrates the value of (EchO) has been largely satisfied: Head First Into Shadow is a treasure chest that contains precious music and never obvious, angry and exciting at the same time and the only hope to be done is that you should not wait as much to enjoy again the fruits of a band’s compositions that certainly abroad we envy. And we, instead, what are we waiting for to adequately support similar musical realities expressed by our country?

2016 – BadMoodMan