October 5, 2013

Eschatos - Heirophanies

Review by Andy Osborn.

I’ll be honest, I’m drawn to bands from lesser-known locales. While there will always be a flood of talent from the usual geographic suspects, I find discovering music from less-populous nations a rewarding form of rooting for the underdog. I’m particularly fascinated by areas physically close to Scandinavia that have yet to see much extreme music seep into their ecosystem, exactly like Eschatos’ home of Latvia. Even forgoing the aforementioned reasons, Eschatos are the type of band that I find myself on a never-ending quest for. A completely independent act, they create interesting music with a proper grasp on their craft and message, even offering their wares for free. Groups like this are what Bandcamp is all about.

The five track Hierophanies was quietly unveiled at the beginning of 2013. The nightmare-inducing yet beautifully rendered monstrosity adorned on its cover is a perfect metaphor for Eschatos’ music; their objectives are clear, their intentions sinister. A deep sense of tension lays within the fretwork, adding an ever-present sense of dread to the relatively slick guitar tone and production. They prove that black metal doesn’t need to be lo-fi and murky in nature to produce a feeling of unease in the listener, a trick borrowed from Enslaved - from whom Eschatos no doubt take much inspiration.

Photo from Eschatos @ Wacken Metal Battle semi-final 31.05.2013 taken by Laima Faltere.

The music is clearly prog influenced, without the need for baffling time signatures or hyper-complex structures. This stripped-down approach is from where the quartet derive much of their strength, but also some weaknesses. Overly-simplistic guitar solos unfortunately result from this method, they tend to distract rather than enhance. Luckily these missteps are few and far between. Vocalist Kristiāna’s shrieks are downright gut-wrenching; she joins the small but reputable ranks among the upper echelon of female black metal vocalists. Her style is uncannily similar to Ludicra’s Laurie Shanaman, in fact, this whole album could be mistaken for the newest offering from the Bay Area geniuses, had they stayed together and been transplanted to the small Baltic nation.

Admittedly I know very little about the Latvian metal scene, but I’m confident in saying Eschatos are among the small country’s elite. Their music is a brand of its own, funneling inspiration from well-known foreign waters and mixing it with an unknown homegrown concoction. Who knows, maybe with the help of this debut we’re just a few years away from discussing the “Riga sound.”

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. Cool review, I've only heard Ludicra's "The Tenant" but based on just that you are spot on about the vocal similarities. I definitely like this better.

    1. Like this better than The Tenant? ?? ?*gg '''* Does not compute :-D

    2. The Riga sound is warmer than the Bay Area sound (ironic, considering Riga winters are MUCH colder).

      This is really good, but like Max, I'm having trouble computing how it's better than "The Tenant".