Easily the most unsuspecting release from Relapse this year, the debut album from Ecstatic Vision does not sit well alongside releases from Gruesome or Maruta. It sits somewhere above them, not quite on top of them, more somewhere in the planes between metal and psychedelic euphoria. Sonic Praise is definitely one of the more interesting debuts of the year, especially considering the abundance of extreme metal releases that have made this year so entertaining thus far. Contained within is less than an hour of music that belongs in places the human eye cannot see. Want to know how to induce a psychedelic state without dropping acid? Read on.
In his final days with A Life Once Lost, Doug Sabolick was experimenting with lower tempos, grooves and spacey, haunting guitar licks. Ecstatic Trance was a departure from the Philadelphia band’s more raucous approach, a departure that Sabolick has continued to toy with with Ecstatic Vision. The wandering, almost freeform guitar parts that float throughout the run time of Sonic Praise are lavishly dripping with effects; the lead guitar tone on this album almost feels lifted from Ecstatic Trance, but when something is that delightful, why not recycle it? This guitar tone, along with the cerebral, chilling choral vocals and deep, underlying tones of the organ, make for a backdrop capable of pulling the listener deep into the vibe. Although the riffs and structures may be derivative of 70’s and 80’s music, this is still a modern production. One that is hands down delightful.
Aesthetics aside, Sabolick and co. play really driving space rock. With an energy that fans of Clutch will appreciate, the music barrels forward and upward, often using repetitive riffs in a manner befitting the nature of stoners alike. Each track really feels like it’s own unique beast, regardless of the repetitive nature of a lot of the guitar and bass riffs. Not afraid to draw back and let the psychedelic sounds take over, each refrain is worth it’s weight in gold when a big, rolling riff comes back around. Ecstatic Vision fill these eclectic moments with ethnic percussion and rhythms befitting those instruments, finding time to throw in some other wordly sax soloing too. “Astral Plane” and “Cross The Divide”, the longest of the five tracks, are given the chance to spread their metaphysical wings and take flight, thanks to these prolonged sections of noodling. This might lose the attention of some, as for all of it’s glory, their is very little maneuvering in terms of tempo. Along side the minimalist nature of the rhythm section, it would be quite easy to lose track of what is going on.
It would be easy to give this album a perfect score on the right kind of day. Unfortunately, not every day is fit for phasing out of the real world. Ecstatic Vision have every right to fight for the crown of modern psych rock kings. The hard work and attention put into this album shines through like a neon light in the black emptiness of space, or some other such psychedelic to and fro. Sonic Praise should be the first in a long line of solid, enjoyably whacked out rock releases from this band. Listen to this under the influence.
Ecstatic Vision’s Sonic Praise gets…