EP Review: Elephant Watchtower – The Church Is At Fault

Elephant Watchtower - The Church Is At Fault - Metal SoliloquyElephant Watchtower is a one-man progressive death metal project from Ontario, Canada. The Church Is At Fault is the band’s debut EP. Had I listened to this EP without any information on the band, I think I would not have suspected that this is a one man project. The music sounds grand and fleshed-out, the many layers of the compositions complement each other and end up painting an impressive musical picture of detailed and massive soundscapes that draw you into a dark and vivid world. Lyrically, The Church Is At Fault can be read as a pamphlet on the current state of “the church”, the hypocrisy and ideological issues within it, and the often negative influence the institution has on our society, seen from the inside.

Impoverished and pained, they live in our waste
Who carries the weight of every cent we take?
Starvation prevails, our calling we’ve failed
The church is to blame for this world that we’ve ailed
Famished by selfishness, Lives have been lost
And it is our fault
Lighting our stages with stolen donations
We taint the name of Christ

These are some of the lyrics taken from the title track. Elephant Watchtower clearly don’t beat around the bush when it comes to preaching truth, as painful as it may be, in their lyrics. And the music definitely fits the severity and determination of the lyrics: Blastbeats, fast and brutal death metal riffs and abyssal growls are consistent elements of the three tracks the 27 minutes long EP consists of. But those are only some of the elements Elephant Watchtower’s music is characterized by. Melodic guitar leads, multi-layered harmonious riffing and stunning synth arrangements are utilized to give the music an impressive wall-of-sound character. Repeatedly, these periods of compositional density are interrupted by proggy breaks, with tempo-shifts and diverse musical elements such as acoustic guitar sections coming into play. The beautiful melodies, in combination with the massive walls of heaviness, give the whole record a very epic atmosphere that is only enhanced by its calmer moments.

As a whole, The Church Is At Fault is a fantastic debut EP that sounds and feels as if it was made by a very experienced band. The compositions show stylistic confidence and creativity, perfectly balancing out brutality and beauty, the production is on point, letting the multiple musical elements of the songs shine, and the overall songwriting makes for a very cohesive, entertaining and engaging listening experience. This band deserves all the attention it can get, as it shows tremendous potential and could easily become the “next big thing” in the extreme metal underground.


The Church Is At Fault was self-released May 1st and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

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Album Review: Starcaller – Perdition

Starcaller - Perdition - Metal Soliloquy

Starcaller is a three-piece death metal band from Mobile, Alabama. That was a quite surprising information to me because the music sounds and feels much more “Northern” than Alabama. Playing a melancholic and at times quite doomy blend of blackened melodic death metal, I would have expected this band to be from Scandinavia or Canada, but limiting genres to certain countries and vice versa is a stupid thing anyways.

That being said, lets get to the album itself. Perdition is the band’s full length debut, and a good one at that. With a playing time of 38 minutes, spanning over 8 tracks, the album has a very nice length. It is long enough for the band to let their ideas and visions unravel and work on the listener and it is short enough to at no point get boring or uninteresting. According to the band, the album is meant to take the listener on a journey through “tormented minds and cursed fates”, a journey from this realm into another, “capturing the dissonance of a soul placed in the wrong reality”. As interesting as this concept is, I am going to be honest with you and say straight out of the gate that I did not pay a lot of attention to the lyrics at all. Not that I am not interested, it’s just that I focused my attention on the music itself, which is what I do most of the time.

Starcaller - Metal Soliloquy

And in regards to the music, I can confidently say that Starcaller succeed in creating a more or less picture perfect melodic death metal album that will please every fan of the genre. The aforementioned black metal elements are not very prominent throughout the whole album, but there are some moments when they really shine and add a lot of character to the archetypical melo-death tropes. Two tracks where the black metal influence are more in the foreground are “Hungering Runes” and “Beyond the Blood and Ash”, two of my favourite tracks on the records.

 

There is nothing about this album that I really dislike: The music is very well-mixed, allowing every single instrument to shine. I especially love how thick and prominent the bass is in the mix and how it harmonizes with the drums. It gives a doomy vibe to the music and compliments the melodic guitar riffs and the fantastic harsh vocals perfectly. The songs are well-written, with most tracks staying below the five-minute mark, making for a well-paced and entertaining listen. The melodies are beautiful and “catchy” throughout the record. And despite being a little generic in its overall musical style, the melancholic atmosphere and the black metal elements are two things that make Starcaller stand out from their peers.

Now that I think about it, the only thing I’d criticize about Perdition is that it could do with even a little more of that certain “something”. You can already see a lot of identity in these songs, but the band clearly has the potential to get even more interesting and stylistically unique on future releases. I am definitely looking forward to it, because this album is a mighty fine debut.


Perdition was released on March 8th and is available at Bandcamp.

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