Texas progressive metal act Ethereal Architect showed a lot of promise with their Dissension debut back in 2007, and now 5 years later they have returned with the follow-up, titled Monolith. The wait has certainly been worth it, as Monolith is anything but a 'sophomore jinx', with Ethereal Architect proudly announcing that they are a force to be reckoned with on the progressive metal scene.
As you make your way through Monolith, it's amazing just how much Ethereal Architect sound like a European band. It's partly due to the way the band puts together their arrangements, but I think a lot of the credit also needs to go to vocalist Adam Contreras, who has more in common with the singers from Vanden Plas and Brainstorm than he does with say James LaBrie or Russell Allen. He soars above the crunchy riffs and intricate rhythms of "Kalingo", and adds plenty drama to the engaging "Mercury", which is also notable for a nifty Spanish vibe that closes the song. There's a symphonic flair to "Obsidian", and "Final Escape" features some catchy hooks to go along with its intricate prog metal arrangement. Guitarist David Glass is an extremely gifted musician, and though he doesn't often hog the spotlight, when he does unleash a solo you can't help but take notice. His complex riffery on the kick ass "Revolutions" remind of Nick Van Dyk of Redemption (and there are some tasty keyboards on this track as well), and Glass provides plenty of headbanging moments on the raging "Bardo Becoming", one of the heavier songs on Monolith. "Submission" is one of the lengthier numbers on the CD, and it starts out with some gorgeous acoustic guitar from Glass before the rest of Ethereal Architect jump in, launching into a full blown prog metal epic. The rhythm team of drummer Jake Koenig and bassist Thad Stevens really lock into some serious grooves on this one, with Glass contributing muscular guitar work and majestic keys and Contreras adding the powerful vocal imagery. Closer "MacArthur Park" is another melodic & dramatic slice of progressive rock, with some fantastic vocals and superb instrumentation, again with Glass tastfully contributing some stellar guitar work.
Monolith is destined to be one of the progressive metal surprises of 2012. Ethereal Architect have arrived folks, so be sure to hop on board and take the ride.
5) Final Escape
8) Bardo Becoming
10) MacArthur Park