If there’s anyone to thank for this review of Kingcrow‘s Eidos, it would have to be our esteemed Steward King, Steel Druhm. This little piece of progressive mastery almost slipped through the cracks before the dreaded Scribe Hammer™ came crashing down on my checkerboard mahogany and human-flesh paneled desk. Said Hammer (and the tyrannical HR department) may be painful here at the AMG office, but without the necessary discipline, AMG writers would run amok and reviews would focus almost exclusively on 600-700 words of the exact nonsense you just read [That reminds me, report to HR. – Steel Druhm]. Thankfully, our big-wigs wear big wigs and I’m happy to bring you a review for my pick of progressive-metal Record o’ the Year. For all the reasons I loved Anubis Gates‘ 2014 release, I find it very hard not to love Kingcrow‘s Eidos (also look at the fucking artwork!).
As their career progressed from the so-so flounderings of Something Unknown and Insider, Italy’s Kingcrow moved beyond trying to be “over-progressive” to developing something with substance and a focus on better songwriting. Driving toward a more accessible sound with 2010’s Phlegethon (which introduced Pink Floyd and Dream Theater influences, along with Dax Riggs vocal arrangements on tracks like “Numb” and “Washing Out Memories”) and new recruit, Diego Marchesi at the mic, the band finally found the identity they’ve been searching for since their inception in 1996. They continued this journey with 2013’s solid In Crescendo and are back again with their sixth full-length, Eidos.
With all the recap, there is really only one thing to say about Eidos. It trumps everything Kingcrow has ever done. They make this stunningly obvious with opener “The Moth” as it powers through lush Watershed-era Opeth-ic structures and when all seems on the brink of repetition, it transitions to a very catchy and clever “hand-clapping” interlude that gives the song memorability and allows it to finish strongly. The rest of the album utilizes this same philosophy across tracks that range in length from four to eight minutes. Each song pushes a riff to its limit before freshening it up with loads of staying power, but maintaining the essence of the song itself. Other examples of this strategy are “Adrift” and the title track. Both truly border on repetition but when the transitions occur, the songs morphs into something that you never thought could exist based on what came before.
Melodic favorites would have to be the beautiful “Open Sky” and “The Deeper Divide.” “Open Sky” slows the album way down after its upbeat and jazzy precursor; “Slow Down” and is filled to the brim with melancholy and orchestral builds that give Marchesi’s vocals ultimate power. “The Deeper Divide” is much the same except that its build comes in the form of chugging guitars and additive drumming that makes it a tough song to top. However, personal favorite “On the Barren Ground” does just that, being the heaviest, hookiest, and stuck-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth song on the album, it delivers everything you could want in a single track from Kingcrow.
I have few gripes with Eidos. There are strong tracks and stronger tracks but I can’t convince myself to skip a single one as I careen through this sixty-minute gem. Many songs are long but they rarely feel that way (with the exception of “Adrift” and “Eidos”) and the flow of the album is better than anything the band has ever achieved. The only issue may be the slight unbalance across the album. It seems there are a lot of slower-paced numbers toward the back-half and this may be the reason “On the Barren Ground” stands out so much. The ups-and-downs of the opening tracks, along with the awesomely unique Orphaned Land-esque “Fading Out Pt. IV,” give the first half a high level of intoxication. However, the slower back-half does a decent job of dragging you deep into its web and the execution is breath-taking at times. The instrumentation is top-notch, the DR8 gives it the kind of warmth it needs (even though it could use more), and each listen exposes layers like peeling an onion. Last year I had Anubis Gate and Thine, but Edios satisfies all I need for a 2015 progressive record.