Eidola released their third album, To Speak, To Listen, on June 2 of this year. Eidola has definitely made a name for themselves as an up-and-coming band to know in the progressive metal scene. Their previous two releases were met with much acclaim from both modern metal review sites and progressive metal sites as well. Eidola is one of the artists featured on the Blue Swan Records label, which was started by Dance Gavin Dance’s Will Swan. Because of this association, Eidola has been grouped together with the other artists on the label, and further given the genre label of Swancore for their sound- which, like any label, is clumsy and potentially limiting. However, according to fans of this subgenre of progressive metal/post-hardcore, Swancore can be identified by highly technical, math-rock like technicality, punk-ish aggression, and high pitched/screaming vocals throughout. All three of these things are present in Eidola’s releases, but this album is much more than those labels.
From the second that you put the record on, you’re able to hear a band that is overflowing with energy and comfortable with highly technical music and challenging instrumental passages. Eidola has both singing and screaming (by Andrew Wells and Matthew Dommer, respectively) in most of the songs. Wells’ vocals are precise and clear, and serve as a melodic constant to the intricate, heavy, and even cacophonous music throughout the album. Dommer’s screams serve as an aggressive counterpoint to Well’s melodic singing.
The first few songs are straightforward and somewhat similar sonically. “Telestai” and “Amplissimus Machina” were both released as videos for the album, and make strong statements as standalone songs, but are more typically what you would hear from their label mates. This is not to say that the songs are derivative. They are solid tracks that showcase Eidola’s strengths- technicality, melody, spirit, aggression. But the turning point of the album is the ballad, “Loti”, which is both tender and atmospheric, and also aggressive. The subsequent songs, while less straightforward as the first few songs, seem to be Eidola flexing their progressive metal side. The band takes the listener on a unique, dense journey through the metaphysical. Whether it is the spoken word poetry heard in the fantastic “Sri Vishnu Yantra”, or the double bass heavy finish on “Transcendentium Part II- Fourth Temple”, the second half of the album seems to reconnect with the adventurous spirit of the previous albums, while simultaneously channeling a new, more realized sound and energy. The band delivers spirited, strong,and instrumentally impressive passages, chock full of equal parts polyphony and emotion.
From a narrative perspective, the lyrics and references are highly introspective and philosophical on this album. From interviews, it is clear that this album represents, in the 3 album story arc, enlightenment. From a technical perspective- What I see is a progression from the visceral edge of The Great Glass Elephant, to the chunky but technical Degeneraterra, to the clear and crisp soundscapes on To Speak, To Listen. Even if these production decisions were not intentional, they add on another layer of narrative progression from album to album that manifests even in the sonic quality of the music. Eidola’s latest album is a strong, dense, and powerful musical statement, and their recognition and praise for this latest release is deserving.
I have been listening to progressive metal for a few decades now. When prog metal became a thing, it meant that a band was going to sound like Fates Warning or Queensryche or Dream Theater. Over time, boundary pushing acts would combine the aggression of metal with other diverse interests. I am really pleased that bands like Eidola are drawing from new, diverse interests to create music that is just as technically challenging as the prog bands of before, but incorporates fresh influences that range from hardcore to punk (which might have even seemed antithetical before).
Eidola’s latest album, To Speak, To Listen, was released through Blue Swan Records on June 2, 2017. Order the album here.