Unsigned / Self-released
Words: Craig Hartranft
This much I know about Gracepoint. They're from Minnesota, they play progressive metal, and they haven't released a new album since 2000's Science Of Discontent. So where have the been? Beats me. Probably ice fishing, and bugging Nightmare Records chief Lance King to sign them. In a few days, they will release their sophomore effort, Echoes.
I'll admit I was largely turned off at the start of this album. The first two songs seemed to blur together. The blur was one of largely thrashy riffs and twin guitar wonkery. The core of Gracepoint's progressive metal appears to be centered upon heady and technical guitar wizardry, moving upon the aforementioned harmony, subtle melodic lines, and big bag of guitar solo histrionics. Then they wrap the same in arrangements of twisted tempos, time signatures, and a multi-syllabic rhythm section (made that last thing up). It's creative, definitely an exercise in supreme musical self-indulgence. In that sense, neither the music nor the songs are all that accessible. The songs have vocals, but I'm not sure why the vocalist is there. You can't really understand him and you don't have the lyrics to help you.
But, aside from the masterful and technical guitar flagellation, there are some high points. One is the terrific guitar play of the instrumental Secrets, where the twin guitar harmony is exquisite. The following Full Circle and Somber, allow for the melody to come forward even amidst the guitar barrage. Bittersweet sneaks in a slight rock groove, but also has one of the better melodic vocal arrangements, again, amidst the riffage, which gives way to another epic solo. Against, the riffage and thrashiness, Gracepoint can back things down, offer something more soothing and gentle with July 4. And the album concludes in a similar way with Moon, more of that delightful, yet lighter, guitar play ala the above instrumental.
In the end, while impressed by guitar wonder and wizardry, I found myself ambivalent about the entire album. Creative, yes. Even inspired, at times, sure. But I never really found anything within Echoes that my ears could wrap around. It will likely not find a place in rotation. Nevertheless, if you like a progressive metal band and album which is primarily and significantly guitar-centered, you will be attracted to this album.
While impressed by guitar wonder and wizardry, I found myself ambivalent about the entire album. Nevertheless, if you like a progressive metal band and album which is primarily and significantly guitar-centered, you will be attracted to this album.
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