Essence – ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ [Review]
Although metalcore’s boundaries have become defined to the point of dogmatism and the suffocation of originality, there do still exist bands who aim to employ stylistic constrictions solely as guidelines rather than snares, or the bars of a gilded cage. It’s one thing to sit down and say ‘Okay – so here’s a properly hench riff, and we’ll have an epic melody bit here and a beatdown here, plus another toward the end…’, and it’s another thing entirely to dig deep and just see what comes out. Smoke And Mirrors, with its rolling riffs, throat-wrecking vocals, flurries of high-speed kickdrum work and soaring melodies, definitely fits into a specific genre category – but it’s still fuelled by a hectic intensity that can’t be faked, or copied from a book on stylistic awareness.
SUBMERGED is an audio hurricane, equal parts wild thrashing and clinically precise calm. Essence are capable of respectably disciplined control and focus, but despite their obvious technical prowess their songs never stray into the realm of music-as-competitive-sport. Listening to Smoke And Mirrors feels like watching a five-round UFC fight, where notes and drum skins get beaten to within an inch of their lives and whatever survives emerges a changed entity. RECOVERY is an exercise in dissonance and brutality; THE CLIMB kicks off with an annihilative onslaught that barely lets up; DEFIANCE is straight-up fuckedness mixed with some wicked melodic guitars; and closing track PROPHECY swells, glitches, stops, starts, and speeds in a display of absolute metal mastery.
All in all, this EP is fucking epic. By the time it’s over, you’ll need a breather – but to be honest it’s unlikely you’ll do much apart from press play again.
TMMP RATING: 90%
Links / Listen
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