Echo Tail - Drowning The Pacific
Post-Rock / Progressive Rock / Metal
Review Summary: Echo Tail has found its voice, and it is full of emotions.
Since releasing their first album in 2014 (Mirroring), Echo Tail have released five more albums. Needless to say to in two years, this band has been very busy. Introducing vocals in Fields Of Vision, their previous record, the band has continuously evolved into their latest sound, "Drowning The Pacific". While the beginning of their discography revolved around instrumentals in the metal and post-metal genre, Mark Stebbing (mastermind of the band) and his brother Tom has since been incorporating more diverse and experimental sounds to their composition.
The album's opener, Pacific, is the perfect example of how the band has evolved. Starting off on a calm and clean riff, the vocals are full of emotions and drive the song towards an explosion of saturated guitar riffs. The leads present on this song are outstanding and are probably the best part of this album. Mark really knows how to create melodic and perfectly fitting guitar leads whether acoustic on 'Ends To A Mean' or electric on 'Pacific'. Although present on one song in Fields Of Vision, the vocals are the main new feature of this record, and they work perfectly. In fact, they add a whole new dimension of emotions with the lyrics and the intensity of the singing. Most of the time they are calm, but a few times Mark screams like on Pacific.
Although the compositions feel perfectly thoughtout, they sometimes end abruptly and leaves you feeling like a little more time to think about an ending would have been necessary. The perfect example for this is the ending of 'Season of Violence', where the song ends on a fading repetitive guitar riff. Talking about a repetitive pattern, the record relies a little bit too much on the high pitch tremolo picking. Although it creates a mystical atmosphere, the repetition over the whole record makes it lose its importance and feels almost like listening to the same song over again. What saves the record from that feeling is the little variations like at the end of 'A Shadow Among Us' that fades into a Pink Floyd-esque beginning for Midori.
The atmosphere created by Echo Tail is the one of the Post-Rock/metal genre with a touch of progressive rock. Although this release isn’t a concept album, the lyric’s theme focuses on problems of trust and secret revealing. Finding highlight on this record is a little hard as the whole album flows perfectly (minor a few endings) but some songs stand out, mostly thanks to the leads and songwriting. Those songs are the opener Pacific, the closer In The Absence of Faith and Ends to a Mean.
Drowning the Pacific is definitely a move forward for Echo Tail. The addition of vocals really sent the band towards more emotional composition. Whether the band will continue in that direction is unknown, but Mark hinted that he will probably take a break and continue in the indie rock or electronic spectrum, being more comfortable for his vocal range. Whatever the future of this band will be, they can be proud of their work and this record shows their ability to evolve into new territories and still have a creative mind after seven releases in two years.
Interview with the mastermind of Echo Tail, Mark Stebbing:
Tell me about your musical background, did you study music? Do you have other bands?
I never actually studied any Music when I was in school or university! I was recommended to take music forward when I was younger, but back then, I was not very serious with my guitar playing so I stupidly decided to ignore the subject itself. This was one of the biggest regrets of my life so far because who knows how much better I could be if I took Music further in my life. Echo Tail is the only music band that I am currently in at the moment, I have been in small bands with my friends before but they did not last long, we never even created one proper full length song!
What are your favorite artist (name a few) and what mostly inspires your work with Echo Tail?
Currently, my favourite artists are Thrice, Russian Circles and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, they have had the biggest influence on my songwriting at the moment but overall I shape my creations around the bands like Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails in some ways, they have been the bands I have looked up to since a young age and has had a major input on how I shape my music. Another influence, though slightly bizarre and not obvious, is when I am thinking about concepts and lyrics, I tend to look towards the Final Fantasy video game series for inspiration for some reason. From a very young age, I grew up with the fascinating stories in these games and I tend to draw some ideas from these into my own music too in terms of coming up with a concept.
How was Echo Tail created?
The band used to be just me at university creating some random songs on my laptop back in 2008. I created an album called 'We Sold Our Souls To Infinity' which included 10 minute prog songs and very ambient tracks. I still have it saved on my laptop as demos, though the production quality is pretty poor in comparison to the new stuff as I was still learning how to do mixing and mastering. I may release these someday if I can find a way to make it more listenable. The band itself only really took off when my brother, Tom, decided to help out as he started to take interest in the band and could play drums way better than I ever could, this was in July 2014, and from there we created our first album, 'Mirroring'.
What is the general idea/concept behind Drowning The Pacific? If some songs have special meanings, feel free to go into detail on them.
Initially, Drowning the Pacific was not going to be a concept album as such compared to King Defeatism, it was meant to be just a series of individual songs. But as the recording process went on, it was much easier to put a subtle theme to the album to make things a bit more coherent and relatable. The album's theme focuses on people who deal with the problems of trust and revealing secrets to the people he/she are close with. The lyrics of the album aim to portray this concept and is meant to be one of the focuses when listening to the album.
Did you have a special way of writing your song and recording them?
Not particularly, it was the same process as before with the previous albums. I do have a weird way of starting a song off by making the song titles up first, then making a song from the names, it allows me to picture in my head what the song should sound like sonically.
Vocals are the main addition on this album, was it hard to accept on the songs? Do you plan on doing vocals for your future releases?
This was the newest challenge for the band to try and fit vocals into a song. We were already comfortable with making riffs and solos, but we wanted to evolve our sound and reach a new audience. This meant we had to change the way we structure our tracks, allowing space for vocals to be put in and tone down on the guitar work during those verses. It was hard to accept at first, and vocal takes were the most frustrating and draining processes of the album, but in the end it is all about resilience and becoming stronger as a songwriter at the end of the tunnel. The experience was incredibly rewarded and we are indeed going to add vocals in the future releases too.
What is the future of Echo Tail or other project you might have?
This is the question I always ask myself after each album release. I think after seven albums in 2 years, it is time to take an extended break and allow myself to recharge and not exhaust myself of ideas. I think that Drowning the Pacific may be the last 'metal' or 'heavy' album that we will release for a while, I think we have exhausted that genre a bit. I would like to move onto something a bit more upbeat and adventurous in sound, a slight move towards some indie rock or electronic as it is more comfortable for my vocal range and style. There are collaborations in the pipeline in the near future with other bands and also there could be a small EP of covers too.
Sputnikmusic link: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/71520/Echo-Tail-Drowning-the-Pacific/