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Fall Of Echoes: Red Tree

Fall Of Echoes is a new band - yet they aren't new at all. Visual Cliff, usually an all-instrumental progressive fusion band, recently recorded Freedom Within and in a departure from the norm, that record had vocals - supplied by Orphan Project's Shane Lankford. Although the project was a success, it was far from Visual Cliff's usual musical style - so that lineup was spun off into Fall Of Echoes, with Orphan Project and Visual Cliff contributing more or less equally to the new lineup. The sound isn't new - it's essentially similar to Orphan Found and Freedom Within - but heavier, tighter, and there's more cohesion across the whole album.

Progressive hard-rock, is probably the most accurate summary. Lankford's gruff mid-range delivery dominates most sections of most songs with straightforward approachable melodies, and in a style he perfected on the two prior CDs he sang on, he makes liberal use of overdubs for multi-part vocal lines and backing chorals. This contributes to the hard-rock, almost AOR vibe, yet Rob Perez's prog roots ensure the music isn't too linear, and he retains enough complexity to keep your attention over multiple replays - so you get the best of both worlds. Straightforward melodies with hooks, and prog-like instrumentation.

Red Tree is song-oriented with most tracks running around 5 minutes The lyrics are a little abstract and indirect, yet they all have a purpose or carry a message and the overriding impression this record leaves is the artists' sincerity. Almost every track has a religious theme - which is clearly apparent, yet not intrusive. "You Freak Me Out (Y.F.M.O.)", however, has a political theme, examining the mindset of the Muslim extremist. There's no frivolity here - this is all serious stuff, sung and played with an intensity that permeates every note. That concentrated passion is always appreciated in music, yet for their next album, the band might want to avoid a 'samey' quality that creeps into some of the songs.

The hard-edge works well, yet some of the best moments on the CD are in the rare softer sections - such as the introductions to "Little Girl Lost" and the title track. In fact "Red Tree" is the standout cut featuring a pleasing, fat-sounding acoustic guitar over the hard rock, Lankford's singing is a little more laid back here, and the chorals toward the end yield a satisfying, full sound.

This is a solid, gutsy performance that deserves an audience.

Track Listing:
Darkness Inside
9th Floor
Little Girl Lost
Red Tree
Land Of No Choices
You Freak Me Out
Behind My Closed Eyes
She Fits Well
While I'm Alive

Added: November 2nd 2006
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Fall Of Echoes's Web Site
Hits: 4023
Language: english

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Fall Of Echoes: Red Tree
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-11-02 09:41:37
My Score:

Now that Orphan Project has officially — and sadly — split, that band's vocalist Shane Lankford and bassist Bill Yost can turn their attention to Fall of Echoes. This new group formed with guitarist Rob Perez and drummer Rick Mals of the (usually) instrumental outfit Visual Cliff. Still with me? Good, because Fall of Echoes bridges the melodic sensibilities of Orphan Project with the technical dexterity of Visual Cliff into a promising and memorable debut record that sort of sounds like a heavier, more intense and more progressive version of the classic Christian hard-rock band Petra — especially on the thick opener "Groaning," the more accessible "Mr. Orion" (with its refreshing piano lead) and the melodic rocker "Behind My Closed Eyes." No surprise, really, considering one of Lankford's chief influences is Greg X. Volz, Petra's original dusty-voiced singer.

Red Tree may not have enough hooks to remove it entirely from the prog-rock realm, but its tight and detailed song structures will certainly appeal to fans of more mainstream rock. Not many bands straddle that line with as much savvy as this one. Lankford sings his deep yet hopeful lyrics with an uncommon passion, lending darkness to already shaded songs. Even ballads like "9th Floor" and the more-organic "Little Girl Lost" burn with emotion. Likewise, the title track — a simmering piece with subtle blues and Middle Eastern overtones that segue into crunchy riffs — electrifies with intensity. "Darkness Inside," believe it or not, even includes a few Seattle influences, a la Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

Is Fall of Echoes a Christian album? I think so. Even though the lyrics aren't reprinted in the slim booklet, a sense of struggle to do the right thing permeates Lankford's words, and the liner notes include expressions of praise to the Lord from all four band members. But unlike Neal Morse, say, the men of Fall of Echoes don't blatantly profess their faith in these songs. Rather, they invite all fans of proficient and smart rock music (regardless of creed) to share in the spirit.

Fall Of Echoes: Red Tree
Posted by Elias Granillo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-29 01:01:24
My Score:

"Empty are the ones I see
In many ways they're just like me"

— "9th Floor"

Looks like Red Tree is poised to be this year's sleeper; as with "Sacred" and two songs featuring Orphan Project vocalist Shane Lankford on the normally instrumental Visual Cliff's last release, the twelve ballsy numbers here reflect an aggressiveness tempered with experience hinged on faith — and they certainly don't lack for hooks and melodies. An official new band, Fall Of Echoes takes the "2 & 2" approach: two players from Visual Cliff — guitarist Rob Pérez and V-drummer/guitarist Rick Mals — and two from Orphan Project —Lankford and bassist Bill Yost — with keyboards by third Orphan Tony Correlli. Pérez and Correlli split up the recording and mixing duties at their respective studios in Pennsylvania and Maryland; the merged tracks gel into a dozen lively organic songs that comprise, if you will, the best "non-mainstream mainstream" rock album that will appear this year. (Mals' V-drum samples do a better job of emulating a power kit here than with Visual Cliff!)

While piano, analog synth and gritty organ do surface, that's no excuse to raise the "prog" banner. Red Tree is an intense, at times heavy, at times reflective, melodic hard rock album. The most noticeable element of the production is Lankford's voice, which has finally been pinpointed, as odd as it may seem, as a cross between Scott Stapp (refrain from laughter) and an accentless Peter Murphy. Lankford's is the voice more versatile than either of those, not being limited to one octave. In fact, his vocal textures quite easily cut through the mix on those songs dominated by crunchy distorted guitars and thumping drums, e.g. "Groaning," the title track, "Land Of No Choices" and "While I'm Alive." The instrumental work on "Groaning" is deft but the vocal performance is actually the most successful component. Speaking of crunch, there are air guitar worthy-moments on Red Tree, notably "Groaning" and "Darkness Inside" (but get some time in for "Mr. Orion"). The rhythmic buzzsawing is provided by Pérez while Mals executes leads and solos (like the aforementioned "Mr. Orion"). Thematically only the title track may be construed as somewhat "preachy" in that its metaphor is an overt one. Lyrics were not printed, and should have been, as lyrically the concepts tend to pique if not provoke (for a general overview, please refer to this interview with Lankford and Pérez). With a direction firmly cemented, the music is not devoid of surprises: the opening of "Behind My Closed Eyes" consists of vocoder, analog synth and suspended guitar chords that evoke Gamma. The final tune, "While I'm Alive," is an optimistic anthem with organ, piano, and a catchy rhythmic phrase by Pérez that closes the album on a strong note. Either that, "Groaning," or "Mr. Orion" would rotate splendidly on an FM-rock format. Lankford's voice should appeal to a broad range of listeners young and old.

Fall Of Echoes will release a follow-up in 2007, and it's bound to be even more diverse as the quartet-and-sort-of-quintet has expanded to a full sextet with the addition of a dedicated drummer and fulltime keyboardist. Till then!

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