Sometimes, I just need some no holds barred progressive metal that actually delivers on its promises. Unlike a couple other releases this year, this new album from Communic is a great heavy experience that is worthy of their legacy, while also giving us some new ideas and a good dose of cheese, though nothing enormously innovating or anything like that. Sometimes, that is all I really want. “Where Echoes Gather” is set to release on October 27th.
Communic is what I would call a veteran of progressive metal. This new album is their first since 2011, so it’s been some time since we’ve last heard from them. I was honestly assuming that they had disbanded. However, they are back and the lineup includes Oddleif Stensland on guitars and vocals, Erik Mortensen on bass, and Tor-Atle Andersen on drums.
The style here, as stated before, is progressive metal with lots of huge riffs, searing solos, relentless energy, and a certain level of cheese. No, there isn’t much in the way of delicate moments or melody, and in that way this album sounds very early 00s to me, not to mention the titles of the tracks are all lyrical statements within their respective songs. That’s not a problem for me because it’s a very welcome and rare blast from the past, and I think fellow prog metal fans will also appreciate the ultra serious lyrics and the over the top nature of the album. The sheer power and variety of riffs, however, ensures that this is a strong album that draws you in from the very first track.
The vocals are definitely something straight from early 00s prog metal, with lots of off-key moments and sober manliness. Oddleif has a powerful voice, but he also has tons of range, too. Yes, his guitars are awesome. They never skip a beat, blowing us away with heft and lots of fantastic breaks. Upon hearing the album, you’d almost expect dual guitarists, but Oddleif pulls it off by himself. Erik’s bass is surprisingly audible and very full in tone, especially in the last half of the album. Tor-Atle’s drums are a constant, never bordering on pretentiousness, but always pounding the beat into our brains.
The first two tracks of “Where Echoes Gather” make up the song “The Pulse of the Earth”. The power between them is unending and they start the album with fire and grit, right from the first riff. Tracks 3 and 4 make up the titular song, “Where Echoes Gather”. It feels more haunting and a little squishy, with a very atmospheric chorus.
“Moondance” is probably my favorite on the album, and it is also where this album really begins to shine, in my opinion. This song is a bit spacier than the rest of the album, and it evokes feelings of being in the moonlight. I love the eerie, almost howling chorus harmony and the nostalgic guitar work near the end. “Where History Lives” follows and is a cheesy song that I really like, with lots of ominous guitars and straight-faced dogma.
“Black Flag of Hate”comes next and is a monstrous song with enormous riffs and lots of well-placed pauses that make it feel epic and pounding. The final two tracks form “The Claws of the Sea”. This song has a central guitar lick that I really like, and I find it to be more melodic and almost more story-oriented than the rest of the album: The lyrics are well written and almost poetic. Because of the more rhythmic nature of these tracks, Erik’s bass really stands out more.
Communic are back and their style is intact, for sure. They have offered up some more atmospheric ideas, though, that really bind this album together. “Where Echoes Gather” is a fantastic journey that is powerful, but also nostalgic in its sound. I honestly miss the days when prog metal sound more like this, though I wouldn’t want to leave it there. Especially if you are already a fan, this new Communic album will be a total win for you.