Arch Echo – Story I
How about a good dose of what I love to call nerd metal? Arch Echo are some of my favourite instrumental prog maniacs out there, aiming for the prog-djent area inhabited by the likes of Intervals and Plini. With two albums under the belt, they have proven themselves to be absolute masters of virtuous immaturity in their own unique way, and that trend is further enforced on their brand-new EP, “Story I”. For anyone who ever said that instrumental music is boring, I strongly urge you to crack an ear at this little beauty. You couldn’t be more wrong! It’s a ridiculous and extravagant phenomenon that will put a smile on anyone’s face in a matter of minutes. And yet, the level of musicianship on display is off the charts!
I think this might be one of the most technically impressive and outgoing prog/djent bands I’ve come across in recent years. Every band member is a master on his instrument and they all come together seamlessly, putting together a truly impressive sonic dynamic. Drummer Richie Martinez blows my mind every time I see/hear him play. It’s not only the incredible skill, creativity and uniqueness of his style that gets to me but also the sheer energy and charisma that he can give to the instruments. He is the wielder of odd times and healthy vibes, and sets the pace for the nerd-party to unravel. The riffs laid down by bassist Joe Calderone and the dynamic Adams on guitars (Adam Bentley and Adam Rafowitz) never disappoint, whether what you’re looking for is complex djenty slicing or just a good reason to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow. But where the magic really happens is in the lead sections. I could say that Arch Echo’s music plays out almost as if it was written to have a voice, only instead of a vocalist, all the singable melodies are carried out through keyboard and guitar lead sections. Incredibly hooky themes soar over every tech-pattern and force their way into your brain before you know it, building up the level of fun to match the one of progressive intricacy. Keyboardist Joey Izzo’s parts always pump me up, getting me all giddy and excited. His choice of keyboard sounds is quite diverse, always matching the mood of the moment that the song is going through, and when you look at the playing itself… well… it sounds as if Jordan Rudess dropped to mental age twelve and had a Red Bull with a pack of M&M’s (family size) before getting down to business. It’s as hyperactive and head-alterringly quick as it is cheerful, light and refreshing.
Arch Echo’s secret is that they truly give meaning to the technical wizardry. All those who like to see insane shredding and technicality, probably have a sweet tooth for flashy extravagance, and that is exactly what Arch Echo’s music seems to express. It is happy, energetic, fast, exciting and off-the-charts heavy when the song calls for it. But it sounds honest and genuine at the same time. It’s that childish playfulness that society taught you to hide behind a straight face if you want to be taken seriously. But they do take that mood seriously, in the sense that they put in great effort to perfect it, and have it shine through in so many different ways. You have feisty riffage, fiery solos and happy melodies coming together to form vivid emotional pictures. The title couldn’t be more fitting, as they do tell some sort of story. It feels somewhat cinematic but unlike most cinematic effects in metal, it’s not epic or dramatic but rather chill and carefree, like living the life. At times I feel it would fit as background for one of those happy outdoors city life scenes you see in movies. And I’m also getting strong travel vibes. I’m telling you, it may seem nerdy and shallow on the surface, but it’s actually a beautiful thing.
To top it off, the production is incredible, clear, impactful and offers a tremendous amount of impact on the drums. It has the djenty and maybe even slightly metalcore-ish effect, especially when the breakdowns hit (see ending of ‘To The Moon’). It may be just over 20 minutes of music, but this release really lifted my mood big-time. At the end of it all, what I can clearly say is that Arch Echo is an amazingly talented bunch of bombastic brainiacs, fully deserving of your attention, time, and dare I say…money.
- To The Moon (04:12)
- Strut (04:32)
- Leonessa (05:02)
- Measure of a Life (07:14)