Review: Nova - Eschar
Released: 3 April 2015
For those who follow post-rock, post-metal, noise-rock, etc. you’ve probably become aware of a certain annual festival held in the UK that’s turned into something of a high-water mark of the scene. I’m of course talking about ArcTanGent. Eschar, also hailing from the UK, are one of the plethora of phenomenal bands part of this year’s line up (which you can see/drool over here) that have really caught my attention. They have also just put out a new record, Nova. And it is also phenomenal.
From the very beginning, this album is done extremely well. An intro of shimmery, glistening guitars bloom and build before being joined by a creeping dissonance that morphs into the aptly name second track, “Monolith”. The winding track shifts dynamics too many times to count over the course of its nine minutes, but it does so effortlessly. It is busy, and in a very good way, which is really a good description of Eschar’s overall sound on Nova.
The progressive metal influence is heavily apparent, which I love, and their writing avoids some of the genre’s more common pitfalls. Throughout the entire record you’re hard pressed to find a section that feels over-indulgent or lazy. Fast, technical guitar work weaves in and out of each composition over a tight, and often just as complex, rhythm section. The guitars sit in a sweet spot that is engagingly intricate but never needlessly wanky. Just as important, Eschar know the value of the ‘less is more’ aesthetic. In between sections of arpeggiations and recurring melodies you’ll find ambient, textural passages that allow for some much needed sonic breathing room that often gets forgotten on other records. Nova is arranged to flow smoothly from start to finish, and not become an endurance marathon in the process.
It would be inaccurate to say it is rare that I really enjoy a track, or a record for that matter, while considering it for review. However, it wouldn’t be a lie to say it’s rare that I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and just listen to it. Nova has more than a few of those moments. The warm intro of “Apothic”, the noise on “Nova”. The build and drop off of “Echoes and Reflection”. Basically the entirety of “Discovery One”, which, if I had to pick a favorite track, that’d be it. To how everything comes back to a thematic resolution at the end of “Contact Light” that is both familiar and new, and serves as the perfect warm and even almost nostalgic end to the record. It is because of these moments and more that I can’t recommend this album enough.
Eschar’s second album, Nova, is available now through their Bandcamp. Physical copies are £10 (about $15.75 for those Stateside), and digital formats are available by naming your own price. And if you’re lucky enough to be going to this year’s ArcTanGent festival (unlike a certain blogger who is totally not bitter about missing it again this year or whatever…), make sure to check them out. Word on the
street internet is their live set is pretty killer, too.