There’s one major thing that every band and reviewer are constantly in fear of: the broken record. Call it repetition, redundancy, or other fancy words- it basically means you’re fucking unoriginal. Maturity is key in all things music, and it’s what every band typically strives for when going from one record cycle to the next. The fact that I’ve probably made that point more times than I know how to count is what makes me a broken record. Granted, I kind of suck at counting anyway… but regardless. What you’re about to read is where I think Guelph, Ontario’s progressive metal professionals in Mandroid Echostar landed on the scale from 1-10. I think my spleen just popped with their latest release, Coral Throne.
Before we get down and dirty about the record itself, allow me to paint a little Mandroid Echostar picture for you. Imagine what would happen if Coheed and Cambria had this fuckin’ wild-ass three way with Unearth and Bleeding Through. Too vague and a little sickening? I’m not going to argue that with you, so try and picture this nonstop barrage of gorgeous, upper-range, clean singing that you can only seem to find in something more prog oriented, backed by a constant sonic onslaught of shred-tastic riffage, topped with a little occasional sprinkle of some very groovy beat-downs. There’s never a dull moment with this rag-tag band of Ontarians, most specifically with their previous release, Citadels. But alas, I am not here today to tell you about Citadels.
Coral Throne opens up really hopeful as the sweet harmonics of “Hypnos” violates your eardrums. There’s no shortage of their signature groove or phenomenal arpeggio work, yet something didn’t quite ring like previous work has. All the pieces were there, but as the record rolls down, the listenability of the overall work tends to shrink. Certain tunes broke the monotony, most specifically the raging anthems of “Paladin” and even the sweet, semi-ballad, semi-sing along “Midnight Sun.” These songs give this record some great redeeming qualities, most of which can be attributed to the vocal melodies that provide some solid hooks. “Zelos” rounds out the road with a beautiful seven-minute long epic, leaving a great aftertaste for any potential future listens.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that this is a very good record, and this band is worth your time in every possible way. That being said, I did not fall in love with Coral Throne quite like I have with previous Mandroid works. The mastering at times can tend to betray what would otherwise be a much more impressive track. When mastering isn’t a problem, there then tends to be a lack of the classic Mandroid flair that I know and love. It’s a great addition to the collection, and will serve to be a valuable piece in what I hope will eventually become a timeless Canadian act, but is it an improvement from Citadels? Sadly, it’s not. Do I still really enjoy various parts of it? Is it worth the 8/10 regardless of my feedback (as it still sports some amazing traits that are definitely worth listening to)? And will I still enjoy the fuck out of catching them again and again? You’re damn fuckin right I will.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Kate Erickson