07 Nov 2021 - Daniel F.
Post-Rock | Self Released | Release date: 05 Nov 2021
Post rock is just one of those genres. Every time you think you’ve heard it all and the well is starting to run dry, an album comes along that completely reaffirms your faith. That happened this week with the release of Ascension, the prolific debut album from Greek post rockers Ephemeral Echoes. New kids on the block they might be, but they come bearing one of the year’s standout releases.
I can already hear more studied post rock fans sharpening their pitchforks, but as a relatively new fan of the genre I often find it hard to differentiate from one band to the other - sometimes albums can blend into one beige cacophony of reverb. Which makes it all the more poignant when an album stands out. Ascension wallops us with ingenuity, offering something new at every turn and rarely standing still. The opening attraction is eerie vocal samples as we hear a young girl on a swing, threatening to lead us to our death. It could be pulled from a low-key horror movie, and offers a jarring introduction to a record that takes pride in the art of intrigue.
From here heavy guitars take the mantle, switching the mood from ethereal to outright cathartic. The band allow us to spend some time soaking in these riffs before they grow in a crescendo, the guitars begin the climb and eventually chug their way towards an epic finale. It is without doubt an impressive way to open an album, but the ambition doesn’t stop there. ”Horizon” is up next, another delicately constructed track that flits between heavy and serene with ease. It’s hard to write such ambidextrous music without it feeling over-produced and false, yet Ephemeral Echoes possess the sought after gift of innate compositional skill. It feels effortless and fresh.
”Beyond The Skies” mostly offers an ambient blend of widescreen soundscapes, continuing what loosely feels like a spatial theme. Perhaps a sci-fi accompaniment - the soundtrack to an interstellar voyage - or simply an exercise in music that feels larger than life rather than being shackled to smaller constraints. Again it builds to a heavier finale, much like the next track ”Ravine” which is equally blissful. They continue to add elements of doom metal to create murky passages, contrasted perfectly against the lighter, more idyllic sections.
The eponymous ”Ephemeral Echoes” acts as a short burst of mid-album heaviness before ”Cosmic Chasm” brings back vocal samples and another enveloping passage of post rock. Again, it is a difficult skill to allow instrumental music to conjure this level of emotion, yet we are obliged to feel every ounce of pain, sadness and excitement that the band intends us to feel. We are very much on this cosmic voyage with them, pulled along for an enigmatic ride.
On then to the finale, ”Water Under The Bridge” another detail driven assortment of prolific ideas that never stays in one place for too long and somehow dials up the quality even higher. You’ll notice I’ve made no comparisons to other bands in this review. Perhaps you can compare them to the ambience of Hubris., or the darkscapes of bands like Coastlands, but the fact is that Ephemeral Echoes have found a niche in a genre that can make it so hard to shine. Ascension is sensational and with each listen it continues to move us and become stronger. My only hope is that it is the beginning of something special; the birth of a band that has the potential to become iconic.