Monday, January 28, 2013

Elixir On Mute - End of Sky (2010) ALBUM REVIEW

In the pantheon of prog metal guitar prodigies, Jordan Ferreira, the frontman and leader of Elixir On Mute, certainly has his place. Ferreira has the chops by far and he proves that almost to excess on his band's debut album End of Sky. He halts himself just enough for his virtuosity not be obnoxiously overbearing and instead it is rather impressive.

His guitar acrobatics have to carry a lot of weight on End of Sky, considering that the shortest track on the entire album runs almost six minutes, with the longest running over fifteen minutes. That's a lot of airtime to fill up and Ferreira's vocal prowess, while decent enough and just the taste his target audience will enjoy (see Periphery for a reference), doesn't leave a lasting enough impression to satisfy.

That means it's up to the instrumentals to satiate the listener. For fans of the guitar as something to master, rather than a means to an end to express an emotion (i.e. punk guitar), these will do the trick nicely. They're dutifully interesting and enough of a ride to keep you paying attention. Only once, in the aforementioned fifteen minute track “The Weapon,” do they drag, as Ferreira plays with effects for much of the outro with little ground gained.

Meanwhile, behind the kit on this record is another virtuoso, former Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen. Pridgen here is clearly a session guy, but he more than adequately fills out the space in Ferreira's songs. At times, knowing what the man is capable of from his work with the Mars Volta, it may seem like he's restraining himself a bit too much, such as in the simple to the max beat he plays in the album's cheesiest but most immediately satisfying track “Helium Trains.” Still, when he does let himself go in the way he did on Volta's Bedlam in Goliath record, the result is the clash of two masters of their instruments creating a beautiful chaos.

Regardless though, this is the Jordan Ferreira show. He's singing and there's nary a moment where his guitar isn't making some very interesting noise. Without having seen him live, I don't know what level he's at as a frontman. But in a record where he stands dominant over the music, he makes his presence felt with all the power of someone who's been at this for a decade or more. For a debut album, End of Sky is remarkably fleshed out and well developed, especially in Ferreira's case.

Ultimately, your mileage may vary on this music depending on your appreciation of the guitar and progressive metal. End of Sky contains all the tropes common to the genre and makes no effort to differentiate or distance itself. It is what it is and it accepts and relishes in that. For fans, that's a blessing. For those looking for someone beating the hell out of a guitar and screaming, they won't find it here. But an album with its feet on the ground that understand what it wants to be is usually a very solid one and End of Sky is no different.

Either way however, the album is commendable for being so damned solid, confident, and determined for a debut. This is not an album that occurred overnight. It took true talent and direction from its orchestrator and for that Ferreira must be commended by any right. And for those that truly enjoy the directions Ferreira has chosen to pool his talent in, they may find a brand new favorite band in the promising upstart that is Elixir On Mute.