Eldritch: Gaia’s Legacy

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Eldritch: Gaia’s Legacy
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Eldritch: Gaia's Legacy
Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Scarlet Records
October 11th, 2011
Release length: 56:34
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When it comes to bands that walk the Progressive Metal line, regardless of whether they blend in other genres, Eldritch is one that is often more overlooked and underrated then they should be. This Italian Progressive and Power Metal group formed back in 1991, bouncing between various labels, but known more for their time and reissues through InsideOut Music, at least here in North America, as well as their later albums on LMB Records. However, the band has signed a deal with Scarlet Records, an Italy-based label, to issue their eigth full-length effort, Gaia’s Legacy. But, can this conceptual release really pull their fan base in with their global warming theme?

Before getting into the album itself, you need to examine the audio quality, which is just fantastic like many of their previous efforts. The album is clean, but all the instruments still sound heavy while retaining that early eighties kind of sound and atmosphere to them. The guitars have a clean distortion to them similar to something you’d expect to hear in an early Heavy Metal recording that work well with the Progressive keyboards that come into play, both at nice levels that they can be heard without taking over the album. The volume level also helps the bass stand out nicely, making it audible and in a way you can feel sometimes without it being drowned out, and also giving it more of it’s own layer in the mix despite the fact that it pretty much just backs up the guitars. The drums are also kept to the same kind of restrained volume level the guitars and keyboards are at. The cymbols are strong but not too loud, the bass kicks seem a little distant but not too far with a good strong thud to them against thick, rich snares that really fill out the music well. Of course the vocals are a little louder in comparison, but not to the point where it dwarfs the rest of the music, and given the often somber music, that and the more restricted volume really works to set a very somber atmosphere for the album that often plays on the listener’s emotions, even when performed at a faster pace with plenty of energy or excitement.

Gaia’s Legacy definitely does have a tone about it that takes a preachy approach to the global warming lyrics and themes, which is something a good majority of North American listeners will be greatly turned off by due to how much green initiatives and global warming in general has been pushed down our throats, and how it will continue to be for quite some time, more then in other countries I’m sure. Sure, in the eighties it was a common idea in Thrash Metal about cleaning up polluting companies and other such natural-based themes, but many of those songs definitely didn’t get as preachy and blaming as this album does. In fact, judging by the lyrics, Eldritch does encourage working together through a recount of the tragedy in New Orleans thanks to Hurricane Katrina, but at the same time it sounds as if the band is blaming mankind, as if those who died there and the whole event is the fault of mankind, when there’s no real explanation for what happened. And that sets up the whole tone of the album well. Gaia’s Legacy acts more as a call for mankind to reconsider it’s actions and try to save the planet, but at the same time it seems that many songs put the blood of those who die of unexplained natural disasters on all our hands, even theirs. The environment of the album is very dark and often brooding with the amount of blame being placed on makind actually being really depressing moreso then most depressive of Black Metal releases. Honestly the first time through this album left me severely depressed and miserable as all hell. Especially after the following track, which hammers this atmosphere a lot worse into the listener’s skulls then “Gaia’s Anger” did.

“Our Land” is one of the darker tracks here, again taking the route of explaining what global warming is doing to the planet and essentially pointing the finger at mankind again, all while returning to a depressing, yet catchy chorus that basically pleades for the television weatherman to say that everything is going to be ok. The chorus really feels the strongest of this song though, and the rest is good, but feels forced towards the darker message. This track also has an audio clip starting it off similar to what “Deviation” had, and it sounds like it continues the New Orleans related newscast. “Mother Earth” is another slower track, but not as depressing as the rest and comes off more like a generic ballad then anything, but it uses more audio clips that clearly are of Al Gore talking about global warming. Sadly, this is when the album starts to lose it’s impact, but for those who take the global warming finger pointing a little harder, it’s probably more of a good thing.

The rest of Gaia’s Legacy seems to be focused more on what global warming does, and just songs about the sun and it’s effects on the planet. The audio clips are gone, and the music isn’t as depressing, though still dark and not completely away from the brooding sense. It seems like Eldritch tried to get their point across a little stronger on the first few tracks, and the rest are just typical material for the band, which is a welcome change of pace. “Thinning Out” makes for a fantastic track with some catchy music, an impressive guitar solo, and does maintain that darker sound to it without going over the top and becoming preachy. “Like a Child” is another strong track that’s catchy and has some good lyrics that have a more artistic way of pointing the blame to Earth’s problems on mankind, but by comparing it to being a toy that we as children just got and wound up breaking. The catchy material here really makes the song stand out, and breaks free from the darker overtones of the album. “Signs” is about the same, except substitute the catchier music outside of the chorus for a more aggressive approach, and more Al Gore sound bites, because when you want to unwind to a good Metal album, you immediately think Al Gore.

And that’s not the end of him either, as he’s used for the start of the next song, “Thoughts of Grey,” which ends up being another heavier, more aggressive song that does play up the band’s more Progressive tendencies a lot. But what’s more, the song “Thirst is Our Hands” is just a verbally abusive song. The music doesn’t quite have that emotional tie to it, or even a similar atmosphere to the early songs, but the whole track is performed as telling you things that are supposed to be your faults like running water to brush your teeth or showering for extended periods of time, a length of hours being a common play in the track, and how you feel about wasting it all. It’s at this point that the album will just lose you, which is fine since the last track, “Through Different Eyes,” really isn’t that good and simply ends the album on more of a generic note.

Going into Gaia’s Legacy with even the most blank of opinions towards the global warming situation will not help you here, and in fact this album may make you hate the concept or even those who preach going green concepts all together. While the music varies greatly between emotional and typical for Eldritch, or just the style, the finger pointing blame game lyrics here often come through as bad taste, can be a bit whiny at times, as well as just verbally abusive, and for fans of the group, such as myself, tracks like “Thirst in Our Hands” is like being assaulted by a loved one, all the while being made to feel we like deserve the abuse. Eldritch really put out an album that simply goes too far lyrically and doesn’t just have a message, but rather beats you with it until your lifeless then tries to make love to your corpse with those very same ideas. If you can look past the lyrics, the music here is pretty good, and alone would be worth experiencing the album for some of the darker tracks, but if you even make it through the album on your first listen, the chances of returning again are really low. Honestly, if I didn’t have to review this effort, I would not have listened to it more then that one time. It doesn’t grow on you, and just doesn’t feel like Eldritch, or even a Metal album for that matter, instead coming off more like propaganda you paid a good amount to sit through.

01. Gaia’s Anger – 1:02
02. Deviation – 5:06
03. Our Land – 5:13
04. Vortex of Disasters – 5:21
05. Mother Earth – 5:15
06. Everything’s Burning – 4:26
07. Thinning Out – 5:48
08. Like a Child – 5:48
09. Signs – 6:18
10. Thoughts of Grey – 6:06
11. Thirst in Our Hands – 6:18
12. Through Different Eyes – 4:51

Initial Pressing Score: 3.5/10

Eldritch (band)
Eldritch

Digital review copy of this release provided by Scarlet Records via Freeman Promotions.