So far 2012 has been a great year for progressive metal but not too much is happening in the U.S.A. which is where I’m from. We’ve had some good power prog and the amazing debuts of the avant-garde band Dissona (see our interview here) and San Francisco’s progressive black metal doomsters, Wild Hunt as well as new releases by stalwarts Jeff Loomis and Kayo Dot but not much else so far from The States. I’m glad to say that may be changing with the new release by Austin, Texas’ Latin-tinged prog metallers, Ethereal Architect. For some reason the expansive state of Texas has produced some of the U.S.’ best progressive metal over the years with bands like Outworld, Scale The Summit and the late and very lamented Power Of Omens and now we can gladly add Ethereal Architect to that list.
Ethereal Architect has been around for a few years and has just released their second album, Monolith. The band is a four-piece band anchored around the stellar guitarist David Glass (who also adds some keyboards and backup vocals) and the powerful, dramatic vocals of Adam Contreras (who sings mostly in English but also in Spanish for the Latin sections in some of their songs). The band has a solid base of great songwriting that is sometimes complex (just check out “Bardo Becoming” to see what the band is capable of technically) but is just as good at beautiful, slower melodic pieces often anchored by Glass’ love of his acoustic guitar. I’m a sucker for great melodies and this band has it in spades.
Monolith starts off with a few solid heavy pieces but then by the song Obsidian takes you in some pretty damned interesting and unexpected directions. After starting with a very strong and “ethereal” instrumental opening punctuated by Glass’ keys and restating an earlier melody we get to hear the softer side of the band with some lovely acoustic and softer electric guitar. The album is also full of great Latin guitars and Contreras’ beautiful Spanish vocals (please check out the stunning album closer, “Oceanos” which is not even metal at all, just a great, powerful Latin ballad). I’m a total sucker for ethnic influences in my metal and I think it’s a great and unique touch that the band has added their love of the sounds of their land to their already solid prog metal base.
There really isn’t a weak song on the album and it’s pretty obvious that the band really cares about creating great, powerful and memorable songs, not just to wow us with their technical prowess. One thing I’d like to see on future releases is an epic song or a suite as I think this band is capable of really stretching out their compositional skills and would help to cement them among one of the best and most interesting bands going in the genre. Now that we’ve (hopefully) whetted your musical appetite, you can listen to the whole of Monolith via the Spotify playlist below.
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