I’ve discovered that I enjoy penning these EP battles. It’s like sitting back with a book of short stories, just for a change of pace from the normal album format. I’ve chosen three more EPs to discuss briefly, and the contrasts between them are starting to become rather large. Read on to hear about Sight of Theia, SomeWhereOut, and Lucas Ray Exp, in the order that I heard them, essentially.
Now, I’ve been pondering what makes a good EP: It’s certainly different at times than what makes an album great. While an album could have weak moments or even be a little aimless at times, an EP suffers greatly from these things. I mean, an EP is designed to offer a snippet of the general concept of the band’s sound, so if they cannot express that in short form, then there might be some problems to address.
Sight of Theia is a perfect example of this. The other two EPs are grounded and conceptualized experiences, while “Red Sun” is more aimless and disjointed. The band plays instrumental progressive metal with heavy bass and lots of finger work on the guitars. While they do not fall completely into the djent void and they don’t focus on riffs alone, they do unfortunately sound like a hundred other bands. This band seems to be technically skilled, at the very least. The artists are Alex Buhlig on guitars and keys, Renzo Ruiz on bass, and Eric Dansie on drums.
Now, you may pass through “Red Sun” and totally forget it, save for one track. “100 Millions Guns” does change things up somewhat. It sounds more American. More classic rock. More heavy metal. More Southern. That might not be my favorite sound in the world, but it is at least different, and I’d at least listen to a full album of it.
SomeWhereOut is a trippy little affair. While they may have more of an arc available than Sight of Theia, this band has their own issues. “Eternity, Infinity” is one of those EPs that you want to love, but there’s just something keeping me from embracing it fully. I can say, though, that it is chock full of interesting ideas.
The band offers a mix between prog rock and prog metal, and there’s definitely an alternative slant to the sound. The riffing is light, the rhythms are quick and interesting, and the overall sound is not derivative. There are two singers, male and female (cannot find the names online), and that alone sets this EP apart from most others. There is a tiny bit of jazziness to the female singer’s voice, too, and the whole EP comes across as slightly quirky and odd, in a good way.
Like I said, the band has great ideas, but some are just not executed all that well. Each song has moments that are glaringly weak, almost like the band needs to work on transitions and the endings to vocal melodies. Overall, it’s an enjoyable EP, and I think the band could really produce something great in the future.
Lucas Ray Exp (LRE) offers a different breed of EP than the others; and, indeed, a completely different perspective on music, too. In fact, “Sphinx” is hardly an EP at all, being around 40 minutes long, and it feels whole and well planned. Lucas Ray is the name of the artist here, and he seems to handle literally everything here.
The music here is eccentric and intensely eclectic, mixing prog rock with jazz fusion, Santana vibes, Egyptian themes, prog metal, and even some rap vocals. The guitar work here is purposeful and clear, like Plini, but that is combined with light riffing, bizarre moments, and adventurous beats. That means that we get soothing synth solos and fusion beats in the same release as world music, rap vocals, and just this overall sense of class and taste.
If there is one weakness here, it may be Lucas’ vocals. While his voice is good (not great), you can tell that he struggles at times and the vocal melodies are not very memorable. This does not detract from the overall effect of the music, though.
While all the tracks are interesting and well composed, the two-part “Sphinx” at the end of the EP is the main draw of this release. It provides all the elements I mentioned in one succinct and exciting package, probably in their strongest outings on the album, especially the vocals and guitars. And the lyrics keep mentioning something about acid melting faces, so there’s that, too. This two-part song is just so incredibly strong that I’m tempted to list it as one of my favorite songs of the year.
In the end, LRE is the clear winner here. The music is simply more interesting and fresh, and a full release could really be something special. I will definitely be following LRE to see what he does next.
Find the bands online: