Communic sits comfortably in the subgroup of metal acts that don’t get the attention they deserve. With 4 albums of pretty consistently sharp, heavy prog metal under their belts, they’ve essentially filled the gap left when Nevermore folded shop. Albums like Conspiracy in Mind and Waves of Visual Decay mixed a satisfying crunch with soaring vocal harmonies, slick progressive sensibilities and a dark edge that draws me back often. While I wasn’t floored by 2011s The Bottom Deep, I still wanted to hear more from the band and expected a quality rebound. After a 6 year wait we get Where Echoes Gather and it’s definitely superior to its predecessor, though not quite up the lofty standards of their early works. You still get that hefty, Nevermore meets Morgana Lefay sound, top-shelf musicianship and the dark, edgy mood they’ve always done so well. In a year when several of my favorite prog-power acts disappointed, this is a welcome development indeed.

This time the band opted to craft a series of multi-part songs, which is ambitious and risky. They’ve always had a penchant for long-winded songcraft, so created multiple chapters could get messy. Opener “Pulse of the Earth (Part I – the Magnetic Chamber)” is classic Communic, with chunky riffs providing the foundation for Oddleif Stensland’s vocals. He’s always sounded a fair amount like Warrel Dane and still does, but he also has a touch of Hansi Kursch’s grit and Peavy Wagner’s nasal sneer. He’s very effective here on what is a satisfying example of prog-metal with a dark edge, similar to Tad Morose‘s A Mended Rhyme album. “Pulse of the Earth (Part I – Impact of the Waves)” is heavier and darker but features the same slick riffing and herky-jerky progressive time signatures. There’s little to indicate when Part I ends and Part II begins and as expected, they essentially form one long song. It’s a good one though with enough change-ups and interesting ideas to keep the listener keyed in. It’s also righteously crunchy and aggressive, which is grand.

The two-part “Where Echoes Gather” is even better, with a richly melancholic atmosphere and a creepy but captivating chorus that will stick with you. This is the album high-point, taking things back to the band’s salad days, even incorporating some Voivod-like off-kilter guitar histrionics. Stensland sounds excellent and the writing comes together just right. “Moondance” is a melodic power ballad of sorts that calls to mind the best moments of Steel Prophet, and though I really enjoy what the band is doing (especially Stensland’s softer vocal turn), at nearly 9 minutes, the song is majorly stretched and runs past it’s expiration date. Heavy rager “Black Flag of Hate” is the most aggressive cut, with Kataklysm style riffs merging with Queensyche‘s moody guitar phrasing. At over 7 minutes though, it too would have benefited from some trimming.

Things take a turn for the tiring with the concluding two-parts of “Claws of the Sea.” While neither part is anywhere near bad and both have a downcast, brooding vibe I appreciate, at a combined 12-minutes it just isn’t the most stirring example of the Communic sound and after a succession of long, winding songs, fatigue has set in terminally before I ever come to grapple with it.

At 53 minutes, Where Echoes Gather feels longer than it should. As the album unspools the song lengths increase and by the mid-point things start to feel a bit dragged down. The production is decent though, allowing the talented trio to be heard at their technical best with a heavy guitar tone and a pop to the drums.

I’ve always been enamored with Stensland’s guitar prowess and he has a lot of impressive ideas scattered throughout the material here. He’s adept at crafting driving riffs that are equal parts heavy and proggy. His solo-work is used very sparingly, making it all the more effective when it pops up. His vocals can be a love or hate proposition, and though he’s been accused of imitating Warrel Dane too closely, he seems more his own person here. He’s backed by an uber talented backline in bassist Erik Mortensen and Tor Atle Andersen on drums. Together the trio flex quite the powerful musical muscle and you’d swear there were 5 or more folks in the band. If they’d just tightened up the writing a bit, this thing would be a smoke show of heavy prog-power.

As it stands, Where Echoes Gather is a solid, technically impressive outing fans of prog-power should enjoy. I doubt this release will help Communic garner the respect they deserve, but at this point they’ve probably accepted their place in the metal pecking order and do it for the love of music. If you haven’t heard these guys before, definitely check them out. Lots of quality music to be found, here and in their back catalog.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM
Websites: communic.orgfacebook.com/OfficialCommunic
Releases Worldwide: October 27th, 2017

 

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  • Stefano Kevin Prince Vitali

    I’d add a distinctive Deadsoul Tribe feeling to the list of musical references. I reckon these guys can write good music, but they have a problem with editing/cutting since Conspiracy In Mind, and they never ever came close to solving it. Less is more, how true…

    • Tofu muncher

      I concur. Although none of the songs is reaching 10-minute mark, the album still feels a hard work to fully listen to, while some of the shorter tracks feel anticlimactic imo. I like this band still.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    “It feels longer than it should.”
    .
    .
    .
    THATS WHAT HE SAID.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      even if only in quotes, it feels like im observing something disingenuous whenever i see the brutalist receptacle refrain from a bold -only format.

      feeling a little under the weather there, bubby?

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        NO.

    • Tofu muncher

      a vulgar display of wankery this

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        INNIT

    • Bad touche.

  • AndySynn

    Goddamn, I love these guys. “Waves of Visual Decay” is one of my all-time favourite albums, and “Payment of Existence”, though not as good overall, has some truly killer tracks on it.

    This one I haven’t fully formulated an opinion on yet (you can definitely tell that some of the material stems from the “Conspiracy In Mind” days though), but I am very pleased to see AMG giving them some attention!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I shall check out WoVD. Thanks.

      • AND Conspiracy in Mind.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          It shall come to pass.

          • AndySynn

            If you’re looking for something to fill the Nevermore gap btw, I’d recommend Shatter Messiah (who feature ex-Nevermore live guitarist Curran Murphy doing his best Jeff Loomis impression).

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Cool. Thanks Andy.

          • Bryan Stroup

            Nah. They were way too over the top and only vaguely sound anything like Nevermore.

        • Bryan Stroup

          That’s a decent album with a few standout songs, but Waves is stronger overall. However, “Communication Sublime” is one of my favorite tracks from them.

  • Lou Daz

    Probably my favorite embedded track of the year.

  • lennymccall

    Spheres man, spheres.

    • How about the one in the promo shot being a sphere-skull? Or is that a skull-sphere?

    • De2013

      It’s a tribute to Sophicide’s “Perdition Of The Sublime.

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    I’ve always liked where this bands heads are at, but always felt the songwriting lacking.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Betcha the guy on the cover is lonely.

  • Here’s Johnny

    Never understood why this band are not more known(popular), they are fab.

  • Serjien

    A wise man once said “Less is more…”

  • Metal and Hockey

    I’ve tried to get into this band but they always make me just want to listen to This Godless Endeavor or Dead Heart

  • I remember buying Waves of Visual Decay back in 2006 and thinking it was good, but I don’t remember the last time I listened to it. After hearing the embedded track, I’m now listening to it again. I’d put it in the good, not great category (and that ain’t bad).

  • Wilhelm

    The vocalist is also underrated

  • JL

    Definitely nothing like and nowhere near as good as Nevermore, but it does scratch an itch!

    • Bryan Stroup

      I haven’t heard this album yet, but Communic is very much influenced by earlier Nevermore on their first few albums and it shows. Also, I had no idea the band was still together. After The Bottom Deep (such a terrible album name), I kind of gave up on the band and hadn’t heard anything about them since.

  • Sophocles

    Heavily underrated and subtle band, I always had a soft spot for them. In a year of much prog metal, this is a great return. Wonderful mixing, lets the instruments shine. And the bonus tracks are a nice bridge to their past.

  • De2013

    And nobody has yet mentioned Megadeth / Mustaine reference in this?

    Edit: wow, great song!