Whether the music or band name came first is something to ask in the future but certainly the sonic tempest of sound which progressive hardcore/post metal band Echoes casts over air, senses, and emotions is a resonating and lingering incitement which leaves little room for respite in its oppressively smothering presence. The Pursuit, the debut album from the UK quintet, thrusts the band into the imagination and mistrust though the latter is not a concern for the undoubted technical and imaginative craft of the band or of their emotively intrusive exploration, just a wariness of the damage the erosive might and intrusive rabidity of the release is treating senses and psyche to The ten track immersion is not an easy listen at times, not a merciful encounter which allows senses to breath and regain a foothold in its caustically acidic soundscape, but one which captivates with just a few reservations.
Taking inspirations from the likes of Devil Sold His Soul through to Hans Zimmer, Echoes emerged in 2010 with the intent ‘to create a sound that is entirely true to them’. Undertaking a gigging regime as intensive as their sound, the band has played around the UK and Europe numerous times, taking in over 150 shows and sharing stages with bands such as Devil Sold His Soul, Feed The Rhino, Heights, and Our People Vs Yours along the way. Intensively created across time and effort, The Pursuit lays down a potent marker and imprint as the band forges another potent step in their ascent. It is a sonically carnivorous encounter, one with a hunger which consumes with little consideration for emotional relief in its recipients but one which even in its suffocating dark depths infuses a melodic hope and positivity, just no respite.
Opener Empty Lungs has no care for a gentle coaxing into its maelstrom of enslaving textures and atmospheric voracity, the guitars of Angus Cadden and Karl Koch an immediate grazing courted by the intimidating throat of the bass of Steve Tolloczko and the predatory rhythmic challenge of Oliver Todd. The sonic submergence is like a free fall for the senses until they reach the passionate raw squalls of vocalist Joshua Thurbin where intensity engulfs before spreading out into more restrained but just as intrusively testing scenery. The slow immersive crawl of the track which takes over is as magnetic as the previous vitriolic incitement was violently bracing, their subsequent merging a stimulating canvas for imagination and emotions to place their own narrative before being dosed in that provided by Thurbin. It is an exacting experience but one, which as the album, over time unveils the richest persuasion and understanding upon the emotions.
As the first track drifts away the following Leaving None Behind flows in, a commanding but respectful acridity wrapping ears before the raising of an intensive temperature which itself flows into another melodic caress with sinister shadows. Again the track takes time to share all of its rewards but does so eventually as the guitars and rhythms sculpt a powerfully evocative landscape to ponder and explore. The following title track is similarly a long term investigation and journey but one which mentally ignites thoughts and feelings as rigorously as it does physically. Like the album, it is impossible not to fall into the immersive ambient depths of the song even as the sonic endeavour sears and scars.
Both Honour Lost and Rivers takes things up another level, or is that down, to darker intimidating corners; the first a bordering on anthemic engagement of group calls vocally aligned to an imaginative and harsh traverse of raw climates whilst its successor provides an initially muscular confrontation which evolves impressively into an expanse of crystalline intrigue and shimmer mystique within a rhythmic sky which is always mere seconds from inviting a fury of vocal angst and voracious sonic design. The pair are the most potent and thrilling provocations stretching the already accomplished thought and passion of the band musically and emotionally.
As stated The Pursuit is not the most painless proposition, though there is never a second where adventure and unpredictability do not reign, but there are elements which prevent it scaling the heights of personal acclaim which it could have deserved. The lacking of truly memorable moments other than the just mentioned songs does leave it standing out against other contenders, as does the fact that it is easy to lose yourself within its familiarity s at times songs are hard to distinguish from others without purposeful attention. Also the vocals of Thurbin make the release a struggle at times as in For What It’s Worth and the beginning of the following and thrilling Wooden Hearts as examples. Certainly his delivery and craft is impressive and potent to match the fire of the music and invention, but without a lack of diversity, only occasional additional group additives giving that, it does leave that part of songs a little one dimensional though certainly also passion drenched. It does not prevent the album from stirring up appetite and eager emotions for itself though.
Safe it Seems bursts in next to rage and snarl at the senses, anger and reflection soaking every syllable and note within another pleasing tempestuous range of piercing sonic peaks and lush melodic hues. Its drama clad presence is instantly tempered by the opening ambient caress and floating melancholia of Navigate, the piece a vision inspiring instrumental with scathing edges to its elegant beauty. It is the one time the album allows breathing to be engaged in without a savage incursion; that left to the closing See & Believe to explore within its emotively intense and creatively vibrant body. It is a powerful finale to a striking full debut. There are elements where the release could have truly stolen the passions and misses out but The Pursuit still leaves you eager to invest in its consumptive depths, even if nervously, and push Echoes into a band to fully recommend.
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