[Reviewed by stark]
“Cold Ground” was a monolithic album, that gradually revealed all it secrets and mysteries. In most cases when I write a review and read it after a while, I think I might make some changes in terms of style etc. But if my opinion on the album hasn’t turned upside down, content-wise I wouldn’t change much. I posted a review of “Cold Ground” in 2013. Today I’d write it in a totally different manner, from zero, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like the album anymore. Not my opinion, but my perception of this music has changed.
“Tether”, the first effect of the Echoes Of Yul/Zoharum collaboration was all right. At least for a remix album. Still, there was some new music and the remixes were treated quite creatively by the invited guests. Now we have “The Healing”.
First surprise: damn, why is this album so bloody short? Only forty minutes? It’s just fifteen more than the premiere tracks on “Tether” – this could just as well be an EP. The second unexpected thing is the music itself. It isn’t some radical step into the unknown, but rather a searching of the essence of the artist’s own creativity. “The Healing” is like “Cold Ground” denuded of redundant elements, of fancy but useless ornamentations. I’m not saying that “Cold Ground” was but a sparkling set of trinkets, I still love that album, but this one seems more ascetic, more quiet and also more coherent in terms of style and atmosphere. It’s not like this song is more metal oriented, while that one has an ambient or experimental origin. On “The Healing” all of the tracks have a common foundation, even if each goes a different direction later on, driven by guitars or based on synthetic sounds.
Also, after the previous two CDs I was under the impression that Echoes Of Yul had found a specific niche that could satisfy ambient fellows, fans of more experimental branches of independent music and some open-minded metalheads. This time I feel that not many metalheads will remain. Obviously, there’s still a decent dose of heavy riffs, Michal hasn’t forgotten about his roots, but they (the riffs, not the roots) are often covered by ambient space and dreamy textures. And the most beautiful fragments of the album are the ones where, using the electric string attributes, he paints those impressive drone landscapes like in “Gush”. The other compositions that stand out are “The Trick”, with its calm opening and slow morphing into quite an aggressive song – although the aggression is counterpointed with analogue synths in the vein of Boards Of Canada, accordion sounds, post-rock serenity and somehow Middle East quasi-chants. And – traditionally – the epic ending, “The Better Days”, filled with slimy and dirty riffs, live percussion and processed vocals.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that maybe it’s best that it’s only 40 minutes long, because the remaining tracks are on an equally good level, while on the previous releases some of them were a bit behind in my opinion. Is it the best Echoes Of Yul release up to date? Possibly, can’t say yet. The most mature, that’s for sure.