Reading through the many communities and music pages that I follow on Facebook, I stopped upon a post that grabbed my attention. All it took was the album cover, and I was immediately drawn. I mean, look at it; I can’t think of anything more hauntingly eerie as that. With a recommendation from the one and only Prog Magazine, I decided to give the band Kingcrow a well-deserved listen. One play through their hour long “Eidos” is all it took to get me hooked.
An Italian progressive metal band, Kingcrow ranges between the heavier sounds of Opeth and Dream Theater to the softer likes of Riverside, Porcupine Tree and, well, Opeth. With one listen, I feel these gentlemen have produced an amazing addition to an already well-endowed genre. Being another band whose most recent album is my first taste of their music, I feel a much deeper connection with Kingcrow’s “Eidos” than with my previous blind-date. No offense, “Drones.”
It took a Google search for me to understand what “Eidos” actually meant. Being something that is seen or intuited, the conflicting image of a blindfolded man on the album cover makes me even more intrigued. Described as an album of choices, consequences, and disillusionment, the cover perfectly complements the music inside, consisting of that eerily haunting and sinister sound. I can see future horror movies using any song off this album in their soundtrack. The passionate vocals of Diego Marchesi perfectly embody the vigor needed to make this album “metal,” and the delicateness needed to make this album “progressive.” With a lower register voice (something not too present in progressive music nowadays), I would be fooled if someone told me his voice didn’t belong to either Brent Hinds of Mastodon or Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria. With an Italian accent added to the vocals, I find it gives the songs more personality, just as countless British bands have done for classic rock albums in the past.
The lyrics in his album are subtle and dark. In particular, the lyrics to “The Deeper Divide” portray a character separating themselves from their past life. The listener can especially feel the loneliness of separation in the song’s conclusion, reminiscent of songs off Porcupine Tree’s “Fear Of A Blank Planet.” The rest of the album follows this vibe, checking your feelings of happiness at the front door.
Not having heard any of Kingcrow’s previous albums, I can already feel in my gut that this album is probably one of their greatest albums. Whether it is the production quality, the emotional lyrics, the added symphonic effects from the keyboards, or the extremely catchy guitar rhythm that switches from clean to heavy at the drop of a dime, “Eidos” is a very playable album. It can’t get much better than this, right? (What is your favorite Kingcrow album? Sound off below!) Being a guitarist myself, I was easily taken by the intricate leads and rhythms of the guitars played by Diego Cafolla and Ivan Nastasi. The riffs in “Fading Out (Part IV)” remind me for some reason of classic Dredg albums. A heavy sound including cleaner tremolo chord strumming, I can easily hear a mix of Dredg’s “Leitmotif” and anything by Santana, a statement that I will gladly announce the first of its kind. The catchiest and my personal favorite song is easily “On The Barren Ground,” ironically one of the most upbeat songs on this album. Worth a poppy 80’s influenced synth, the song is brighter than its neighbors, a sonic experience only matched by the concluding “If Only.” The atmospheric nature present on this album makes it feel more massive than it is, a true accomplishment for the band.
The song structures in “Eidos” may parallel with notable progressive rock/metal albums, but the overall sound may be up for debate for some listeners. Using a more straightforward and less improvisational direction, Kingcrow follows the recent trend of more-accessible prog, spearheaded by the likes of Opeth and Steven Wilson. Although this album lacks the pure grit and character present in progressive metal albums, I cannot classify this album as anything else. Sure, there’s a lot of clean electric and acoustic guitar, probably more than in any progressive metal album on my iTunes. Does that factor alone classify the genre? Absolutely not, and the fact that Kingcrow doesn’t pigeonhole their way into the genre makes me appreciate them even more. I fall under the category of those demanding more bands like this. Having said that, I do see how this could be a problem for some listeners. Considering nearly half of the album is made up of slow building, ballad-like songs, the typical progressive metal fanatic might sigh at the album. For those listeners, I’d recommend you give the album another whirl (or two) to find all the layers within. Trust me, it’s worth it.
There isn’t a single song off “Eidos” that I would skip when listening to it. All of them have their own personality, their own tempo and tone. Each serve a greater purpose for the rest, making this album one of my favorites of the year. I highly recommend this album to fans of progressive metal artists like those I’ve mentioned in the post. I’d also recommend this album to those who maybe aren’t necessarily fans of progressive metal music, since it easily could act as the gateway to help wean a new audience. Please support Kingcrow by visiting their website, or by following them on their Facebook or Twitter pages. This is a tremendous album, and I hope you feel the same way.