I promised myself I wouldn’t mention Sound of Contact when I reviewed the new project from Simon Collins, but I ended up feeling that it is necessary. Simon Collins is back with eMolecule and is releasing The Architect on February 10th. Sound of Contact Part 2, this is not.
Simon Collins and Kelly Norstrom were part of Sound of Contact and their debut, Dimensionaut. That album was so well accepted that fans have been begging for a follow up, though it was 10 years ago now. That’s hard to believe, I know. Fast forward to today, Dave Kerzner has been busy with multiple projects, Simon has released a solo record, and Simon and Kelly have formed eMolecule. I should also mention that Matt Dorsey has a new solo album releasing soon, too. It feels like all the ideas that brought Sound of Contact its special sound have now been dispersed. That is somewhat depressing.
But any time Simon releases anything, fans seem to think it will sound like SoC. Emolecule is definitely not this; if that is what you want, you are better off listening to Dave’s In Continuum project. Emolecule is a progressive rock band, yes, but it is much heavier and guitar-driven. In other words, Dave’s illustrious keys are not here to slice through the distortion. Yet, The Architect is a powerful and fierce sound in its own right. While it has plenty of atmosphere, it is darker and possibly angrier than anything I’ve heard from Simon or Kelly.
I mean that. The lyrics on The Architect are submersed in social commentary, and whether you agree with its implications or not, one still has to admit how effective it is. The imagery, the sci-fi concepts, and the blatant references to modern day are convincingly transmitted with a healthy level of both angst and wisdom. This is one of those albums, I think, that may never have existed but for the sudden and societal inspiration of its writers. This is, honestly, Simon Collins pissed off and sporting a tiny red mohawk.
The Architect certainly isn’t short on ideas. You’ll hear piledriving guitars, electronic flourish, emotional vocals, and some rather weird choices that actually work after you’ve heard them a few times. The singles show this pretty well, with “eMolecule” opening the album with a mostly instrumental, monstrous sort of piece. It feels like a statement about the nature of this album.
“Mastermind” is another odd work, but it has become a favorite. I love the strange slow-burning, high anxiety first half with its vocals feeling like short emotional outbursts, and yet the second half reveals a orchestration-laden climax that is absolutely killer. “Beyond Belief”, lovingly placed in the second half of the album, is a catchy rock song with electronic accents, and I feel like it needs to be there with all the other ideas present in that part of the record.
In general, I feel like the first half is angrier than the second half. The album gives us excellent tunes like the proggy title track and its lengthy ambient interlude, or one of my favorites, the groovy and rocking “Prison Planet”. “Dosed” is another terrific track with its brazen lyrical ideas and confident ring. At track 6, we experience another instrumental called “The Turn”; this track is heavy and even contains what some might call harsh vox, but it is a searing and deliberate song that gives way to a second album half that is possibly lighter and more thoughtful.
In the second half, songs like “Awaken” and “The Universal” keep things bright and maybe hopeful. The former is almost a drifting ballad, while the latter has plenty of drive, though the angst is gone. “My You” continues this with a melody-driven song that is quite beautiful and has some great guitar soloing. The closer, “Moment of Truth”, feels like a lightbulb moment of sorts, though it ends in a shadowy way, and with one of the heaviest portions on the album.
The Architect is a unique album in various ways. It never feels like it resting on its laurels, but is always pushing forward, even if that means hysteria, anxiety, and paranoia. It can also mean hope, wisdom, and light, though. I like how the album is constructed with “The Turn” at its heart; I think that is a brilliant move and the band mostly stays within those mental guidelines in each half. Time will tell if this album can reach the heights of past works by these two artists, but I can tell you that I’m really enjoying the light and dark sides of eMolecule, and there is no denying how hard this album rocks.
Find eMolecule online:
I wasn’t nearly as impressed as you were. The musicality is there, but Simon may was well not be. His vocals are heavily masked under excessive effects probably to hide the fact that the vocal melodies are at best lazy and arguably remedial in execution.
Make no mistake, this is a different person than the vocalist for SoC, he’s obviously faced many demons since then and I get the feeling he’s still fighting them. He’s capable of beautiful work as evidenced by the magic release of SoC, but this album is a tremendous step down vocally and the competent heavy jam isn’t enough to compensate for it.