Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, Arch Echo has risen from the minds of five brilliant and youthful musicians that have put their efforts together to produce, write, and compose one of 2017’s most in-depth instrumental progressive metal albums yet. Slipping right into the early tracks of the record you may find yourself completely overtaken by the energy behind songs such as “Earthshine” and “Hip Dipper”, but rest your progressive hunger for further exploration on “My Head Sometimes”, as you may be brought to tears. This album is joyful, melancholic, romantic, and nostalgic; simply a slew of emotions wrapped in a beautifully constructed super-effort from a super-group of young achievers. Prepare to feast on virtuoso shredding talent and heart crushing passages that leave you wanting more and more.
Tonally, the production is a masterwork and balance of “soupy-enough” to feel the massiveness of the groove, but tactically punctual and clear in sense of elaborating on the instrumentation, which is focal to the needs of your progressive heart. Playing both the roles of guitarist and engineer, this record was mixed by Adam Bentley, who in this sense truly makes the flow of the musical exploration emotional and visceral. As expected, the composition titans Joey Izzo and Richie Martinez bring the animus of the record to life, and without a doubt display their creative and tenured shred everywhere. Frankly, if you’re a fan of hard hitting progressive grooves and light and delicate passages in the realm of a shred fest, this record promises to deliver the entire palette.
Arch Echo is: Joey Izzo (Keyboards), Adam Rafowitz (Guitar), Adam Bentley (Guitar), Joe Calderone (Bass), and Richie Martinez (Drums). In short, a sensational team of songwriters and busy guys that love progressive music and dared to take it to new heights.
OKAY, PRESS PLAY
“Earthshine” beautifully dances its way to the foreground of a musical canvas that defines the current instrumental progressive comfort zone. There’s something nostalgic about its symphonic and jazzy layering of joyful jazz, melodramatic fusion, and subtle heavy groove. “Afterburger” then shows the fine line between shredding and maintaining a beautiful balance among clarity in progressions and musical essence. Listening, I get that ‘Steve Vai’ taste in my mouth, but there is something of a Holdsworth-esque transition of fusion to modern progressive metal that melds what you miss from older prog music and what you wish were present now. It is, without a doubt, forward-thinking music.
You may be constantly reminded of a soothing jazz orchestration that nevertheless remains fun in that Steve Vai/Frank Zappa realm of wonderfully directed musical passages. The piano and orchestration pieces are enough to bring you to your knees. There were several moments of bravado as well. In terms of melodic direction, there is indeed something vocal about the scope of all their compositions. “Hip Dipper” does a phenomenal job as the record’s main single, and the writing and ideas truly are emblematic in this piece. It is debatable whether it is the best piece on this record, but what is true of it, is that it is a marker for their stamp on instrumental progressive music. As their debut, this record is enigmatic of the taste that so many instrumental bands strive to achieve today. It is a milestone without a doubt. Two minutes into “Hip Dipper” I found myself doing the ‘hip dipper’ addictively; I found it fun to jam to this. These elegant groove riffs are just what the doctor ordered!
Talk about evocative progressions – “Color Wheel” sets the tonal spectrum of this record. The song brings the listener into a feel-good moment amidst what was already a technical display of writing savvy. “Color Wheel” has a little of that Owane/David Maxim Micic feel that we have grown to absolutely adore, but with perhaps a little of the melodically romantic moments of a gospel jazzy sound you can’t find everywhere in prog records. It is soulful and really reaches across the table to try different things out.
A LASTING FIRST IMPRESSION…
Could this be the bridge between the typically ‘play-it-safe’ instrumental bands of now and the technically daring and progressive juggernauts of tomorrow? We can only hope that their next effort retains this gallantly outward exploration of every corner of creativity laid on the table. There is more feel in this than your ears allow for upon first listen. My recommended spin number would have to be in the 20’s, just to get a clear notion of all the parts you missed. The massive scope of the music is about flourishing within the sound of a complex multi-layered piece; Beautifully done, I must add.
Arch Echo is phenomenally serious and mature while preserving the fun and joy of progressive music that dares to explore the tangibly distant edge of persevering creativity. It is constantly surprising and satisfying. Look forward to tracks such as “My Heart Sometimes”, that culminate in a tidal wave of arrangements and fast, complex, and immersive textures. This album completely shreds, but does so with grace and always controls the emotional atmosphere for you to actually enjoy the scope of everything given to you on this masterwork. It is a must-have for 2017’s collection.
Arch Echo’s Arch Echo is epic, and that would be putting it lightly.
Notable Tracks: “Earthshine”; “Hip Dipper”; “Color Wheel”; “My Head Sometimes”
FFO: Plini, David Maxim Micic, Owane, Sithu Aye, etc.