Achintya Venkatesh reviews the new album from Essence titled Last Night of Solace, released via Noiseart records.
01. Intro 01:15
02. Final Eclipse 06:00
03. Arachnida 04:16
04. For the Fallen 06:19
05. Children of Rwanda 04:54
06. Gemstones 06:22
07. Dark Matter 06:24
08. Last Night of Solace 07:28
09. Opium 04:49
10. Fractured Dimension (Bonus Track) 05:10
As a person whose tastes lean on the old-school side of things, I can safely say that one is often compelled to immediately take a liking to a band that blatantly takes to a sonic throw-back route, even if that path is an already well treaded one that has virtually attained a point of saturation. In light of the same, I should certainly go on to say that Essence is one of those bands that caught my ear by surprise. Delving into a genre whose only new blood seems to be hordes of shameless 80’s thrash worshippers who seem to think wearing patch jackets, high-top shoes and tight jeans earns one all the credibility they need to garner tenability in the eyes of a somewhat confused and overwhelmed modern heavy music enthusiast, Essence certainly stands out as a band that is at the very least attempting to sound different while maintaining the integrity of the pioneers that came to define the sub-genre they play. Yes, despite their logo being extremely reminiscent of Berkley legends Testament’s logo.
The album starts out with an intro that initially invokes a majestic atmosphere but soon descends into some good ol’ thrashing, which then bleeds into the album opener, Final Eclipse, which is a solid track but is pretty routine in terms of song structure. There are moments where the riff-work shines but these are rather short lived, and the lead playing is rather conventional. The vocals are once again typical for thrash metal, and comprise of shouted, raspy chants in the vein of Miland Petrozza of Kreator and Tom Angelripper of Sodom, but lack the venom and ferocity invoked by the two, and are somewhat stagnant in comparison. Arachnida features some notably catchy leads complemented by foreseeable rhythm guitars backing it, but soon plunges into generic thrashing otherwise. For The Fallen is the first track of the album that, in my opinion, truly captures the attention of the listener and features some very dynamic segments, with some enjoyable percussive interplay between the explosive notes and the drums, and some excellent consonance in the guitar playing in the vein of Testament and (later) At The Gates, in effect making it one of the standouts of the album. Children of Rwanda is an enjoyable track with some incredible dual guitar work with the rest of the track unapologetically indulging in speed-driven thrash frenzy and aggressive tremolo picking. Gemstones in contrast to the preceding two tracks is conventional thrash fare and there’s nothing much to be said about it. Darkmaster initially invokes a black-metal velocity but slows down about a minute into the track and takes quite some time to get interesting, but makes for a good listen nevertheless. Last Night is an excellent track in every aspect, albeit a bit lack-lustre initially, it gets highly dynamic during the latter half, and is another standout in the album. Opium is a rather boring follow-up to it in contrast. The bonus track Fractured balances crunchy rhythms and leads in a fairly good manner.
The problem with some of the filler tracks of the album is that they far exceed their freshness due to their stretched song lengths and in a sense overstay their welcome. In addition to that, some songs have common-place segments that could’ve well been omitted, which could’ve added to the freshness and crispness of the album as a whole, making the album a wholly enjoyable experience as a monolithic unit as opposed to being tedious in a good number of segments. However, this is certainly a step up from Lost In Violence (2011) and is a breath of fresh air among a slew of half-assed Exodus and/or crossover thrash throw-back acts in the so-called ‘NWOTB’. Denmark should be proud to house a band like this in their local scene, and I hope to hear more of them in the future – while I’m not particularly bewitched by this act, they’ve certainly more than caught my attention. An enjoyable listen all in all, but I fear the redundancy of some portions of the album might spoil what might be otherwise considered a more-than-admirable effort.