Opening with the short and delicate ‘Aphotic’, ‘Monolith’ truly kicks off the album with blistering guitar work taking the centre stage whilst chugging guitars and a steady-paced rhythm section compliment them. Without a doubt, this Guildford group are skilled professionals and experts of their instruments, but at nine minutes long, it out stays it’s welcome.
The title track manages to lift you with its striking introduction before easing you into a section dominated by soaring guitars and impressive drum work from Rory Gilhespy. Add to that a flourishing guitar melody that builds as the track progress, and you’re left with an album highlight.
‘Discovery One’ sees Eschar’s metal side creep in with thrashy guitars before spiralling finger work from guitarists Rob O’Murphy ad Sam Beattie sees them settling back into their long-winded ways. Despite this, the structure and tempo ebbs and flows throughout; highlighting the bands versatility along the way. It’s here where the preceding compelling sense takes place. Eschar keeps you guessing.
An issue I have with ‘Nova’ is its lack of variety. Tracks like ‘Falling Through The Universe’ are dense and almost challenging to listen to but at the same time reward you for your patience. The latter involves a sharp, slow-burning build with swirling guitars gradually coming into challenge and overtake a deep, pulsating bassline. The tracks ultimate payoff comes when pounding drums and powerful, soaring guitars end the track on a glorious high.
However in contrast ‘This Is Not For You’ and ‘Contact Light’ highlights Eschar’s lack of versatility. Sure the instrumentation is impressive and their technical prowess will appeal to fans of the djent variety, but it ultimately gets lost in the shuffle. Nearly to the point where you’re reaching for the skip button, which is something I hate to do.
Obviously bands like Eschar aren’t here to create 3 minute wonders. They’re here to create an album; a body of work that represents them in their current state. That is what ‘Nova’ succeeds in doing. It’s a record that requires patience but only offers the occasional reward. It’s made to be listened to as a whole; the brief interludes of ‘Echoes And Reflections’ and ‘Turn Skyward’ simply add to its cohesiveness. Whilst its length is imposing, the quintet don’t come off as self-indulgent. ‘Nova’s downfall is that Eschar don’t use the long running time to expand on some promising ideas. Nevertheless whilst they may struggle to succeed on record, I’m sure the outcome would be different in a live setting.
‘Nova’ by Eschar is out now.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)