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Communic - Where Echoes Gather

Communic
Where Echoes Gather
by James Peterson at 19 November 2017, 12:06 PM

COMMUNIC are a band that I’ve had personal familiarity with for a number of years, as far back as when I was watching my initial inspiration to do album reviews more regularly: the Youtube channel CoverKillerNation run by veteran music critic Mark Horvath. If I am recalling correctly, in one of his videos, he was doing a Q&A in which he answered my question of what his “Album of the Year” was for each year going back a number of years. His answer for 2005? None other than COMMUNIC's debut album “Conspiracy in Mind.” Upon researching this album I was immediately infatuated by the cover art (so much so that I’m even going to try and hire its artist Mattias Norén of www.progart.com to do the cover art for my own band), but only checked the music a little bit. The band’s new album, “Where Echoes Gather,” has been my first foray into getting my feet wet with listening to an album from the band front to back. And by golly, it’s high time I gave myself the opportunity to delve into their music. This album is truly fantastic. Let me try and explain why.

For starters, the first thing anyone who looks up or buys the album may notice, is that Oddleif and his band are offering very long and engaging compositions, including the longest song the band has committed to recording to date: "The Claws of the Sea." This, as well as two other big pieces of music here are split into parts 1 and 2, so that the band could more easily make music video content from these songs with the budget they are working with, as Oddleif told me in an interview I conducted with him that hopefully will be up here on Metal Temple before too much longer. This choice to split up these big pieces also makes sense musically, with a prime example being the title tracks because part one is very much distinct in what it conveys musically to part 2, but it’s still very clearly a single song composition because of the flow through both parts and their cohesion as one piece of music. I find this to be true of the aforementioned “The Claws of the Sea” as well.

It may be because my promotional copy is a bit glitched for these opening two tracks, but part one and two of the opening piece “The Pulse of the Earth” didn’t flow seamlessly for me. I think it’s supposed to based on what Oddleif told me, though. Regardless, this is a really great song to start off the album, wasting no time to throw deliciously groovy heavy riffs and Oddlief’s distinctly tense melodic vocal tone at the listener. The band’s use of very progressive odd-time signature changes in the instrumental bridges here also come across as very naturally composed to suit the songs. To touch on the production, it also is serves the music well. Oddlief got a really good sound in tracking these instruments at his home studio, and since a great mix is often bred by a great sound at the tracking stage, this is no exception. “Where Echoes Gather” as an album sounds positively beefy for a three piece band, and it’s very crystal clear. I wouldn’t say it’s without it’s flaws, though. The bass is a bit buried, but it’s the kind of buried where you can still hear all the notes it’s playing if you listen for them (very similar to the last WILDERUN album in that regard). The drums also all sound very triggered, which is a bit of a shame because there’s a really organic sound to the guitars and I feel like a more organic drum sound would complement them well.

My favorite track on the album is definitely “Where Echoes Gather (Part 2 - The Underground Swine)” which starts with an absolute barrage super gnarly odd-time riffs before the vocals come in over a chord progression of minor chords separated by a half step in a sort of pre-chorus… before the super doom-y main hook comes in and the name of the album is sung. It should be noted that this band is from Norway, and it’s totally possible to compare that pre-chorus to the black metal genre, but this similarity in tonality is probably entirely coincidental because the band is primarily influenced by late 80s and early 90s prog metal and “Big 4" bands like MEGADETH and METALLICA. The lyrics here are also a clear jab at the failed state of the media, and other songs touch on themes of large bodies of water. Both these things are also present topics in earlier COMMUNIC, and it’s nice to see them return here. But again, “…The Underground Swine” in general really just gives off this uniquely dark vibe that’s just delectable. It’s almost spooky, but certainly ridiculously heavy for a band that isn’t in one of the extreme genres like some of the (unfortunately) more “exportable” bands from their region of residence.

“Moondance” is a great calm after the storm of the title song with it’s clean guitar and pretty melodic vocal intro: even the heavy parts are beautiful. It’s a great extended ballad to have in the middle of the record to break up the disgustingly heavy bangers of the track that precedes it as well as the two tracks that follow it, the first being “Where History Lives.” Here you can hear Oddleif evoking a vocal tone and amazing catchy writing (even in the bridge section!) that would potentially feel right at home for the right sections of a record of any of the classic bands that inspire COMMUNIC, such as FATES WARNING, PSYCHOTIC WALTZ or QUEENSRYCHE. This one’s another one of the best tracks here: almost as groovy as parts of “The Pulse of the Earth.” But it’s not as groovy as what comes next. "Black Flag of Hate” is also a standout for its brutal thrashy riffing intro and having the heaviest grooves on here, which are well contrasted with the clean break it also sports. “The Claws of the Sea” (And in particular part 2) really closes the record effectively. It gives you the sense that you’ve reached the end with it’s anthemic sense of finality in the riff melodies and it’s sense of scope with extended instrumental passages, being the band’s longest composition yet. It has a sense of depth as well. This is one of the songs that really makes you marvel at how the band are able to do so much with only three members. Part 2 of this song is extremely cohesive and really hammers home that aforementioned sense of finality to close the record. Especially after one of the strongest, most memorable licks on the record hits at 2:08.

There are a good number of twists and turns on this album and it’s jam-packed with super dope riffs, performances and overall song presentation. Highly recommended for fans of the above-mentioned bands that influenced them. I have a feeling we’ll not have to wait another five years for a new COMMUNIC album, but I surely hope not at the very least.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Pulse of the Earth (Part 1 – The Magnetic Center)
2. The Pulse of the Earth (Part 2 – Impact of the Wave)
3. Where Echoes Gather (Part 1 – Beneath the Giant)
4. Where Echoes Gather (Part 2 – The Underground Swine)
5. Moondance
6. Where History Lives
7. Black Flag of Hate
8. The Claws of the Sea (Part 1 – Journey into the Source)
9. The Claws of the Sea (Part 2 – The First Moment)
Lineup:
Erik Mortensen - Bass
Tor Alte Andersen - Drums
Oddleif Stensland – Guitars/Vocals
Record Label: AFM Records
     


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