Released: 2014, Scarlet
Eldritch is one of those funny bands I have a semi-distant appreciation of. Back in the mid-to-late 90’s there was the massive global explosion of underground progressive/power metal bands spearheaded by (new at the time) labels like Massacre, Underground Symphony, Limb and so on. It was an exciting time. While the rest of the fickle mainstream Rock/Metal fans flocked to crap like Nirvana and all those other losers, some of the loyal Metal warriors, like myself, stayed true, deep in the underground waving the flag for the next generation of Metal bands. Eldritch was one of those exciting discoveries and I bought the first three albums when they came out in 1995, 1997 and 1998. For whatever reason I stopped following them over time (you can’t buy it all!) but they didn’t notice or take it personally, (ha!) and they kept going and wrote and recorded another six albums over the next 16 years. Early in 2014 they released their 9th album TASTING THE TEARS and I’m back on board.
The core of the band Holler (vocals) and Simone (guitar) still remain and since their last album, GAIA’S LEGACY in 2011, and the band has been joined by former Wind Rose bassist, Alessio Consani. The band is still on Scarlet Records and as expected still play a high quality of progressive Power Metal. Long time fans will notice the return of one of the bands signature images (a curved, interlocking metal grill) cleverly integrated on the new album cover, making it’s first appearance in a few studio albums.
The 12-track album runs under an hour and although the band fall into the progressive category, they never have been a band of the variety to emphasize really long songs. The songs are all in the 4-6 minute range but all of the very dense compositions are loaded with tons of playing. That has been a hallmark of the band, the songs are very busy and intricate, with not much room to breath in the track. Each song is note dense and packed with performance leaving little room to breath. However that is just fine because that somewhat claustrophobic sound it makes for a very intense and enjoyable listening experience…but you have to be paying attention. This is not ‘easy listening’. The band does mix it up a little bit, as on the brief ballad, ‘Iris’, a gentle song with acoustic piano accompanying Hollers excellent and restrained vocal delivery. TASTING THE TEARS also ends with another ballad but not one of their own making, they chose a cover of Queensryche’s immortal ballad, ‘I Will Remember’ from RAGE FOR ORDER and they do a wonderful version of it, despite it being hard to top Tate’s iconic performance from his golden age.
One thing I do appreciate about TASTING THE TEARS is that it is actually quite a heavy album, leaning a bit more to the Power side of the Progressive-Power Metal descriptor. I’d estimate 70% Power to 30% Prog. The guitar tone is thick and there is lots going on in the songs giving it a heft or weight that is sometimes lacking in some of their contemporaries. TASTING THE TEARS has strong songs, phenomenal playing and individual performances, excellent production and has reinvigorated my desire to go back and buy those last several albums to complete my Eldritch collection.