There’s no feeling like sitting down at a restaurant, ordering a plate of nachos, and when you receive said nachos, seeing that the plate in front of you is a colossal heaping of chips, cheese, beef, and other such nacho toppings. It’s a mixture of delight at the sheer amount of delicious food you have available to consume and nervousness because, well, how the hell are you going to eat all this? It’s the same with some albums. Some bands put forth records that are simply huge. The ambition of an album in this vein is usually off the walls, and whether or not the band succeeds is entirely dependent on the strength of the content within.
More of a bad thing does not make it any better (unless you’re Homer Simpson with a coupon to Doughie’s). One is not going to enjoy a large album where the contents of it are less than desirable, in the same way that having a huge helping of crappy nachos is a total bummer. The new album from progressive rock/post-hardcore fusion band Eidola, named Degeneraterra, is a pile of delicious, delicious nachos. From the wonderful intro to the final swells of the closer, every bit of this album is a bite into a world of delicious, varied, spiced flavors.
Starting from the first substantial track, “Omni: First Temple”, it’s clear that Eidola has a winning formula on this album. Sharp, graceful chords mingle with belted vocals that are a clear nod towards Circa Survive, and the drums punch with a driving determination that deftly moves the song forward. Every song on this album is similarly well-composed; an incredible solo on the latter half of “Humble Ledger (Gnostic States)” is a brilliant touch that drives a memorable wedge into the mostly riff-based songwriting, and the soft, lilting refrains that close out “To Know What’s Real” ground the album once again after a run into heady, progressive territory.
Every track does something different from the last, and the album’s huge 1-hour runtime is a joy through and through. This is an excellent helping of nachos indeed, and the flavoring is diverse enough that every chip is slightly different. Aided by production that does a great job of highlighting whatever should be at the forefront at any given point, Degeneraterra is a beautiful and emotional tour de force carried along a winding road by diverse songwriting and powerful vocals.
However, there’s a fundamental difference here that hasn’t been addressed while singing this album’s praises: feeding your stomach is hugely different from feeding your brain. Nachos aren’t there to send a message, they’re for satisfying your hunger. An album is put forth by a band to evoke emotions and send messages. And while having more nachos just means more delicious food, if an album is too large, the message can get lost in translation. And it’s there where Eidola begins to fall flat: the message of Degeneraterra is lost among the shifting sea of tracks.
This album has no real anchor to its stylings, and as such, the message is partially lost. There are many points where what’s going on feels more like a detour that could have been easily cut than a necessary addition to the album. The tracks that are over five minutes in length are particular offenders in this regard: much of the eight-minute climactic track “Omega: Third Temple” meanders through a path rife with switchbacks and stops, when there is a clear line from point A to point B that could have been followed. This is a problem throughout the album, and while this doesn’t have too much of an impact, it does mean that trying to get through this album in a single sitting can occasionally feel like a chore.
Overall, however, Degeneraterra is an amazing album. When the only problem with an album is that there’s too much music, you know you’re on the right track. Carried by a style that is equal parts dynamic progressive rock and flowy, emotional post-hardcore, Eidola churns through 13 songs that run from place to place, taking the listener through a sonic adventure full of joy, sadness, nostalgia, and beauty. The sheer diversity means that this album not only warrants, but requires, additional listenings, each of which is an absolute joy thanks to the brilliant songwriting. Eidola has created something truly incredible with Degeneraterra– an album that will satisfy both the mind and the heart many times over.
Eidola – Degeneraterra gets…