There is nothing I enjoy more than a band that has their own particular sound, and especially a sound that is almost indescribable. It just exists. IO Earth is one of those bands, and their music has always been at its best when they have clung tightly to their own sound without trying to emulate anything else. IO Earth released their fourth studio album, called “Solitude”, back on February 3rd during Cruisin’ to the Edge, and I daresay it is their best album since their debut.
The band has changed singers once again. The lineup includes Rosanna Lefevre on vocals; Luke Shingler on sax and flute; Christian Nokes on bass; Adam Gough on keys, theremin, guitars, vocals, and programming; Dave Cureton on guitars, vocals, keys, and programming; Christian Jerromes on drums; and Jez King on violin and guitar. For what it is worth, Rosanna’s voice is a huge improvement over Linda Odinsen on the last album. While I do miss the original singer Claire Malin, Rosanna’s voice is sincere, pure, and has lots of range. She can hit notes and hold them impressively.
IO Earth is hard to describe musically. They have a distinctly European sound with plenty of progressive rock portions, but sweeping orchestrations, ambient and breathy interludes, world music, prog metal, and sizzling instrumentals are all part of their sound, too. So, while guitar solos and riffs are the name of the game at times, so are intimate violins and vocal harmonies. I have been following the band since their debut back in 2009, and I remember that they specifically stated they wanted to create a sound that had not been done yet, and I heartily agree that they have succeeded.
“Solitude” is truly an electric album with extensive orchestrations and cinematic flairs. The band doesn’t always use this to create the same climactic song structures over and over, but instead experiment with various loud/soft techniques and ambient portions that add personality and the feeling of scale and height.
The performances are masterful, as well. As I said, Rosanna has a great voice that really matches and keeps up with the music. Dave is one of the best guitarists in prog today. He can be emotional but also very technical, too. His guitar playing on this album is full of hefty riffs and grand solos, and I feel like he will be standout player for 2018 as a whole. From Luke’s sax to Jez’s violin, there are plenty of flourishes and accents that make the music come alive. I’m also impressed by the rhythm section from Christian Nokes on bass and Christian Jerromes on drums: The bass has lots of oomph and the two musicians work splendidly together to elevate the whole album.
There are several mesmerizing songs on this album. “Solitude” starts the album with gusto. The song has a very shadowy and spacey feel to it, but guitar riffs bring us down to where the rubber meets the road with grit and an enormous sound. “Strangest Ways in Life” is a grand song with mighty orchestrations paired against delicate piano.
“Hold On” is my favorite on the album. It starts out with electronic ambiance and a vocal lead, but explodes into a monolithic orchestral instrumental that combines with a vocal harmony that absolutely stuns. “Embrace” is a wonderfully wispy song that climaxes tremendously but comes back down to cool off before it ends. “Race Against Time” wastes no time in sounding huge and cinematic: It barely lets up at all. “Find a Way” ends the album with a fantastic orchestral melody and a very gentle vocal ending that I love.
IO Earth has created their best album since the debut. It is huge and sprawling and melodious, and it will take you away. “Solitude”, while melancholy lyrically, will uplift you and help you fly. The album is only available at the band’s website, so go buy a copy.