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jools green
Jools Green

lord matzigkeitus

'Head First Into Shadows', the second full length from Italian melodic doom/death Metal six piece (EchO) has to be not only one of the most beautiful albums I have had the joy of listening to but also one of the most broad ranging.

Their sound encompasses death, doom, black Metal and post-rock seamlessly and weaves all these elements together with beautifully mournful melody adding a rich atmosphere so the doom aspect is generally reflectively uplifting rather than mournful or depressive.

Vocally it's a blend of powerfully and hauntingly delivered cleans, and you won't hear me say this often as I'm not much of a cleans fan but these are superb, alongside equally powerful growls which are rather reminiscent of Chain Collectors' Svenn-Aksel Henriksen and they are also delivered with good degree of clarity. The vocals are the "icing" on this rather excellent "cake".

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The album also features guest musicians adding to the richness of the mix; Daniel Droste, guitarist and the vocalist of the German funeral doomsters Ahab and Jani Ala-Hukkala, vocalist of Finnish post-metal band Callisto.

Sound-wise you could equate them to a mix of Kauan, Paradise Lost and the recently reviewed here on MetalTalk, The Morningside, just to get the general idea, but it's more than that. Somehow it reaches out to you and touches the very core of your being in such a way that's just breathtaking.

The fifty minute offering consists of six generous length tracks; opening on 'Blood And Skin', here reflective haunting guitar work, clean vocals and piano are balanced against harsh growls and tremolo picking along with some sublime closing lead work.

'A Place We Used To Call Home' opens as a post-rock offering, smoothly ramping up to crushing Melodeath before an atmospheric twist with some simple melody and keyboards and with this winning pattern creating the format of the track it is both superb and effective.

'Beneath This Lake' features guest vocals from Daniel Drost which add a very haunting edge and the epic eleven minute 'Gone' features the album's second guest vocalist, Jani Ala-Hukkala, and has a subtle folk Metal edge in places, particularly as it opens, offset with crushing doom laced death Metal.

The 80s style progressive keyboards that open defy any insight as to how 'A New Maze' will continue but it's a sublime blend of soaring cleans and harsh growls over haunting guitar and keyboard work.

The hugely reflective 'Order Of The Nightshade' has superbly protracted doomy bass lines alongside the harsh vocal parts, giving a crushingly heavy mood that contrasts superbly against the cleans, higher melody and haunting lead work.

'Head First Into Shadows' was mastered by Esoteric's Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios, Birmingham, UK.

'Head First Into Shadows' is a sublime and sophisticated piece of genre spanning Metal of the highest order, rich and evocative, atmospheric and delivered with craft and precision. It's the thinking (wo)man's Metal.

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