Equal parts Protest the Hero and Coheed and Cambria, Mandroid Echostar have always teetered the precarious line of becoming too much like one or the other and losing the flavor that makes them interesting. 2013’s Citadels proved that this edge could be traversed to moderate success, but Citadels lacked a certain fullness that would push the band to a higher echelon.
Thankfully, Coral Throne is a thing that exists, but not without its own drawbacks.
With Coral Throne, Mandroid Echostar have really found their footing, extending past the hybridization that seemingly bred them and evolving into a creature unto themselves. The warm, resonant production coupled with the immense precision and technicality create a soundscape that will please listeners on the lookout for both musicianship and accessible grooves. “Iron Hands” and “Violet Skies,” two of the singles that have preceded the album release, are some of the best work the band have put out to date. Catchy, pop-influenced sections married to slick, technical grooves remind listeners of Periphery‘s transition with their latest dual album release in Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, both of which largely abandoned their typical status as djent pioneers to embrace the big pop-metal sound.
Coral Throne has some really incredible moments. The echoing voice of vocalist Michael Ciccia on “The Lotus” with that immense grand hall sound. The ultra slick bass groove that leads “Sacred Fire.” The entire last minute of “Violet Skies.” Basically every second of “Iron Hands.” “Zelos,” unarguably, has the most monumentally fun outro in some time, embracing the huge sound the album’s production so keenly lends itself to. There are so many spotlight-worthy moments on Coral Throne that it’s hard to pick any one favorite. When the album is on, it’s on. Moreover, no one track overstays its welcome in any capacity, the band acutely aware of song length sweet spots.
There are a few criticisms that can be levied against Coral Throne, however. Some transitions are simply too jarring within tracks to make them appealing, like the weird move to the softer part of “Paladin.” Moreover, moving from one song to the next is easily overlooked, as you’ll find a lot of the same structuring on some tracks. Until their hooks kick in to separate them from the previous song, you’ll think that it’s just a continuation of the song. There’s a lot of great musicianship on Coral Throne, but a lot of it is lost on the idea that you can just throw a lot of riffs together and hope a good album coalesces as a result.
Make no mistake—Coral Throne is good, perhaps bordering on great, but a lot of its potential is lost in the band trying to do too much with a formula. It works for now, but probably not for much longer.