Into the top three now, so it’s getting very serious at this point. Want to know who wins the bronze medal for 2015? Then wait no longer…
Those who know me will not be at all surprised to find so much progressive music within this list and today, as we near the summit of 2015, I bring you another prog metal album that has well and truly rocked my world. I remember discovering Kingcrow a few years back around the release of ‘Phlegethon’ when I reviewed that album for Powerplay Magazine. I wasn’t overly keen on it at first but after a little perseverance, it grew on me to the point where I now really love it. I have therefore kept a close eye on Kingcrow ever since. And, based on the music contained within 2013’s ‘In Crescendo’, a release saw itself rightly nestled within my Top 20 that year, it has been clear for a while that this is a band well and truly on the ascent.
The difference between ‘In Crescendo’ and this, the Italian metallers’ sixth album is that ‘Eidos’ has an almost intangible magic about it all of its own, a certain something that resonates deeply with me and as such has held me captivated ever since its release. It is, stylistically, quite similar to previous releases and so ‘Eidos’ has just about everything; melody, complexity, ambition, professionalism and lashings of drama and emotive atmosphere. It is also one of the most elegantly constructed and sophisticated records of 2015 as far as I’m concerned.
The latter comes, in part, from the sophisticated and deeply emotional lyrical themes that are explored on the album. The concept completes a trilogy that began with ‘Plegethon’ and continued on ‘In Crescendo’. These two records looked at life from the perspective of a child and a youth respectively, whereas ‘Eidos’ takes the perspective of a grown man, looking back at his life and the decisions he has made. The concept is reflected in the stunningly dark and powerful cover artwork and is brought to life wonderfully by the highly talented vocalist Diego Marchesi. If, like me, you can look back and identify a wrong decision, a missed opportunity or a dark period at some point in your life, the lyrics suddenly strike an even bigger chord and make a lot more sense. That’s not to say that the lyrics are exclusively melancholy or regretful in tone as they are not; if you listen carefully enough, an undercurrent of hope and positivity becomes much clearer.
One of the most impressive things about Kingcrow and ‘Eidos’ however, is the way in which the compositions are so subtle when it comes to the ‘progressive’ aspect. There can be no doubting that Kingcrow are a prog band and as such, there are occasions where the complexity really comes to the fore to challenge the listener. However, a lot of time, the technicality is almost hidden within the compositions. You see, Kingcrow understand that it is important to write songs first and foremost; songs that the listener will get drawn to and enjoy. Once hooked, then Kingcrow go to work and those clever little embellishments, time signatures, key changes and everything else begin to reveal themselves.
With every listen you discover something new but from the very first spin, you’re left in no doubt that you’ll love it. Much of this has to do with the rich and warm-sounding production which pulls you in from the beginning, not to mention the ingredient which has become something of a Kingcrow trademark: the acoustic guitars. Coupled with some really majestic keys and synths alongside the more standard metallic fare, the acoustic guitar is a masterstroke, providing the material with a much more organic and unique flavour, in keeping with the band’s Latin roots.
Earlier in the year, I conducted a mammoth interview with principle song writer and guitarist Diego Cafolla where we chatted about many things including a track-by-track breakdown of ‘Eidos’. Therefore, should you feel sufficiently intrigued to know more about each individual track, check out the interview via the following links:
However, to offer a little flavour of the album here and now, tracks such as ‘Adrift’ boast huge melodies that hit me immediately and remain powerful after several months of continuous listening. On the other hand, songs like the quirkier ‘Slow Down’ take longer to make their mark. Lead single ‘The Moth’ creates a bold and compelling introduction for the album thanks to some great riffing, superb drumming and a strong chorus. Elsewhere, ‘Open Sky’ slows the pace majestically whilst ‘At The Same Pace’ creates real drama, blending the heavy with the quietly subtle. To gratuitously quote a review I penned for another publication, this track ‘builds steadily before metaphorically jumping off a cliff face at the midpoint, plunging into an atmospheric and emotional abyss of subtle beauty’. The combination of acoustic guitars, powerful piano and expressive guitar solos is nothing short of sensational.
And then there’s the epic closer ‘If Only’ which is peerless; it is sensitive and beautifully melodic building to a powerful crescendo via an uplifting and infectious chorus that underlines my point about the hope and positivity that’s present but often hidden within the music.
For many reasons, ‘Eidos’ is, to me, a very special and magical album. Each and every track is more than satisfying from a purely musical point of view, whilst the lyrical concept is exceptionally powerful and multi-faceted. Quite simply, in a year that has been exceptionally strong for progressive music, Kingcrow have delivered one of the very best. The phrase ‘criminally underrated’ was created for a band like Kingcrow but I maintain the strong hope that ‘Eidos’ will finally create the buzz and ultimately the success that this band richly deserve. Don’t be mistaken, Kingcrow are one of the best and most intelligent prog metal bands out there and are ignored or overlooked at your peril.
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 4
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And from previous years: