Gone Is Gone – ‘Echolocation’ (Rise Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Rich Hobson   
Monday, 16 January 2017 04:30

EcholocationIf there was one genre that ruled the roost in 2016, it was prog. It didn’t matter if it was Ihsahn tilling the frozen fields of post-black metal, Opeth recounting the hazy ‘70s glory days of the likes of Yes and Pink Floyd or Gojira doing a near clean sweep of ‘Album of The Year’ lists in major publications with their stunning ‘Magma’, prog lovers couldn’t ask for much better than a year like 2016. Which makes it all the more pleasing that 2017 is starting in much the same vein. Just six days into the New Year, Gone Is Gone have fired off the opening shots for the battle for Prog supremacy in 2017, crashing onto the scene with their debut album, ‘Echolocation’. Formed in 2016, Gone Is Gone features the seasoned talents of Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Tony Hajjar (Queens of the Stone Age), Troy Van Leeuwen (At The Drive In) and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin.

 

The Mastodon and Queens of the Stone Age ingredients are certainly strong in Gone Is Gone’s recipe, but that isn’t to say that the band don’t have a strong individual aural identity. ‘Echolocation’’s biggest strength is in the band’s ability to incorporate elements of each individual member’s musical history whilst still maintaining an overall fresh approach to the music. Album opener ‘Sentient’ slowly submerges the listener into an ocean of atmosphere. Ambient notes and gentle guitar tones draw you in deeper and deeper before the music crashes in out of nowhere, as enormous and all-encompassing as the pressure of hitting the seabed.

 

 

While ‘Sentient’ plays with a mixture of gentle and heavy elements, ‘Gift’ bounces right in with bounding riffs and a more straight ahead Rock ethic. Coming off as a musical jam with none of the fatuous noodling, songs like ‘Gif’t and ‘Resurge’ are perfectly positioned dead centre in the Prog Rock balancing scales, sounding inventive and imaginative whilst also catchy and memorable. Hugely atmospheric tracks blend seamlessly with straight-ahead Rock bouncers, creating the sense that Gone Is Gone have learned the lessons of Prog bands past whilst incorporating recognisable elements of Prog-present.

 

As with Gojira’s ‘Magma’, ‘Echolocation’’s biggest strengths don’t lie in the band’s usage of standard Prog devices. Instead, it comes down to how cleverly they use tone and atmosphere to propel the narrative of the album along, creating the sense of a cohesive musical journey from track to track, rather than a simple collection of songs. A combination of ocean-depth ambience and spacey vibes give the band an otherworldly feel, cemented by Troy’s characteristically ethereal vocal.

 

Musically, the album is given plenty of breathing room by comfortably side-stepping the expectations one might have based on the musicians’ previous bands. This freedom is most apparent on the band’s sparser tracks, like ‘Roads’. The Scott Walker like ‘Slow Awakening’ introduces more disparate influences into the band’s formula, with the Walker-esque vocals perfectly at odds with a sedate, almost Nine Inch Nails-ish Industrial musical backing.

 

 

Penultimate track ‘Resolve’ is a soft, shoegaze like number which further strays into new musical realms. Wistful and (mostly) low-fi in its approach, the track is at stark odds with the album’s opening numbers. This makes it all the more surprising that the album jumps right back in with the intricate self-titled closing number ‘Echolocation’. Exquisite in a way that brings to mind the work of Maynard James Keenan, this track sees all members of the band shining at their brightest. Each instrument weaves and combines together seamlessly for a perfect metaphor of the band; this isn’t something which is enjoyable or good because of the sum of its individual elements, but in the way that they are able to combine together to make something much bigger and more complex.

 

Dropped right at the start of the year and released quietly before the rest of the music world can even get their guitars tuned, ‘Echolocation’ is the ideal debut record. By setting an adventurous tone from the outset, the band come across as fresh and exciting from the get-go, a feeling which is only amplified as each track traverses its way through the miscellany of tones, moods and atmospheres. If this is how Gone Is Gone get started, we should all be excited for what they can do in the future.

 

 

‘Echolocation’ is out now.