Gracepoint describe their music as sophisticated metal. I’m new to this band from Minneapolis and what strikes me instantly is the very fine musicianship displayed on their second album “Echoes”. It’s been a long time between drinks following the debut full length “Science Of Discontent” back in 2010. This time they have producer/engineer Neil Kernon (Dokken, Queensryche, Nevermore) on board.
“Animal” opens proceedings with urgency and aggression. Gracepoint sound like a very tight unit and you’re struck by the precision between band members. While the technicality is there, it’s not at the expense of warmth in the delivery or production. This continues into “Spider”, with its’ furious rhythm from drummer Lance Reed and Sam Van Moer who is on bass duties. At times it feels like a musical whirlwind with plenty to stimulate the senses. Vocally, Matt Tennessen leans on that Eddie Vedder style that proved so popular amongst alternative music singers in the ‘90’s and while it tends to sound dated at times, it is also very emotive.
There are delicate musings throughout, the first of which is “Secrets” with its’ Joe Satriani sounding explorations which is rich in warmth and texture. This is a nice track to let your mind escape and wander before the muscular “Full Circle”, full of proggy delights. The interplay between guitarists Stefan Radzilowski and Lon Kunze is at times quite extraordinary and some of the soloing is very elegant and thoughtful. That strength is carried into “Crucible”, which is the beefiest track so far and nods towards the grit of Black Label Society without belying those progressive tendencies. These are the moments that feel really metal on the album and would lend themselves to a bit of mosh pit fury.
The pleasing aspect so far from Gracepoint is the way they’ve kept the interest sparked. There are plenty of twists and the moments of tranquillity are broken by some very focussed and at times, very aggressive technical attacks. These are the elements that perhaps fade during the remaining few tracks. “July 4” and “Echoes” are graceful with more of that musical dexterity on display but the level of inspiration and emotion doesn’t feel quite as high as what came through earlier and the album drifts to a quiet close.
“Echoes” is definitely a nicely produced piece. The individual talents, especially the guitarists is beyond question and for those inclined towards the progressive end of the spectrum and who enjoy moments of guitar wizardry, then you probably need to have a listen.
(7/10 Johnny Zed)