[24th March 2014]
01. Empty Lungs
02. Leaving None Behind
03. The Pursuit
04. Honour Lost
06. For What It’s Worth
07. Wooden Hearts
08. Safe It Seems
10. See & Believe
The debut album from Winchester’s Echoes, The Pursuit, was one that popped up on the radar in late February as something of interest. The release of lead-in single “Honour Lost” and the accompanying promo clip showed plenty of promise, especially for fans of now defunct ambient post-rockers The Elijah. The hints of this fairly obvious influence, and that of Devil Sold His Soul, will undoubtedly draw in many new fans, but after digesting the album for a good three weeks it’s hard to shake the fact that The Pursuit sounds a lot like both previously mentioned bands. This is definitely a compliment to TE and DSHS, and The Pursuit is a very solid take on the sounds created by both bands.
What is immediately evident is the enormity of the guitars – they permeate through so much space and manage to create depth in each song. The use of delay and tremolo-picking is extremely effective in helping the music breathe; they allow the guitars to reverberate nicely throughout each and every track. The dynamics of heavy/light/heavy have been explored many times before and will be again, but when performed with such class it comes across as effortless and not-at-all contrived, and as such the guitar production is the definite strength of the album.
At times the vocals veer off into too-dry territory. Some of Joshua’s screams are again reminiscent of Dan from The Elijah; they are indeed emotive and heartfelt, but there’s not a lot of variety in pitch or delivery. With the guitars creating such lush harmonies it seems a shame that the vocals didn’t go exploring for more melody/diversity every now and then. Some will argue that with the rest of the band taking the melodic reigns, the vocals are free to explore the heavier side of Echoes’ sound, and this is probably a valid argument, albeit a stylistically limiting one. What TE and DSHS did/do so well was mix dark and light both musically and vocally and this is perhaps the one shortcoming of The Pursuit.
The rhythm section is solid as a rock, and accordingly holds everything down tightly when the guitars go adventuring into term-land without ever being too flashy or stepping outside of what a great bass/drum combination should set out to achieve.
The Pursuit feels like it would translate to an immensely dense and enjoyable live show; the songs allow the listener to envision standing in the front row and taking in the enormity of the riffs and rhythm section straight to the chest. The quiet introspective passages such as in “Navigate”, with e-bow in hand and foot tip-toeing from delay to tremolo to reverb, create a welcome breathing space and allow the listener to ready themselves for the inevitable onslaught that they know is just beyond the next riff.
All in all The Pursuit is a great debut record and promises exciting things from the Winchester lads in the future.