Review: Gracepoint – Echoes

a3328575747_16Written by Kelly Schroeder

Having carved out a distinct niche in the progressive metal scene, Minneapolis-based Gracepoint has far exceeded expectations with their second album, Echoes.  Building from the accomplishment of their first album, Science of Discontent, they have carefully honed their craft and only improved with time, delivering a wholly satisfying experience with their latest offering.

Wasting no time hitting hard, Echoes opens with a driving force called ‘Animal.’  Intricate riffing over the urgent push of bass and drums sets the pace for Matt Tennessen’s openly aggressive yet clear and clean vocals.  ‘Spider’ follows suit, landing a second heavy punch with swift and dominating precision.

‘Secrets’ brings about the first of two fully instrumental tracks.  Noticeably a bit more kicked back than the first two songs, Gracepoint seizes this opportunity to illustrate their musical diversity and prowess.  This brilliant groove beautifully showcases the tight, complex guitar work of Lon Kunze and Stefan Radzilowski.  With a solid rhythm backbone that flawlessly sets the mood, the guitars take center stage focusing on impressive melodies with outstanding accuracy.

‘Full Circle’ plunges headlong back into the dynamically forceful melee.  Bassist Sam Van Moer and drummer Justin Koch provide a consistently precise and commanding foundation on which the various facets of the band build masterfully.

Once again slipping effortlessly into another change of pace, ’Somber’ has a dark ballad quality.  Tastefully placed harmonies fade in and out, ranging from subtle to intense, layering with and complimenting the music.  Crucible doles out a thick, crunchy atmosphere — imposing, lingering, and powerful.   Tennessen demonstrates his flexibility with a vocal range that starts dark and low but reaches up to powerful heights.

Despite an almost deceptively clean sound on the verses, ‘Bittersweet’ sweeps off into a brutal and unforgiving musical portrayal of the receiving end of deceit and the stinging lyrics cut through viciously.  Gracefully switching gears from heavy to mellow without missing a beat, ‘July 4’ comes in a bit softer, although never sacrificing Gracepoint’s signature intensity.  Such intelligently composed songs reflect the level of care and hard work that have been spent on meticulous attention to detail.

‘Echoes’ is essentially the last word from the album.  All-encompassing, it revisits all of the heaviness, the sincere, raw emotion, and the imposing confidence from every one of the previous songs.  ‘Moon’ is supremely appropriate for the final song as it’s an all-instrumental outro.  After a presentation of tracks in which it so easy to get lost, ‘Moon’ seems to just drift you softly and easily right out of the album.

Excellent production quality and an overall essence of having taken the time necessary to craft an exemplary specimen are just two of the aspects of Echoes that stand out boldly.  Coupling that with the remarkable construction of the music itself and the refined musicianship of the band as a whole, Gracepoint have definitely set themselves front and center amongst bands to keep close on the radar.  A thoroughly enjoyable album Echoes is an easy 10/10.

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