The privilege of opening this reviewing year has been granted to Effloresce’s debut Coma Ghosts, released on February 10th on newly founded label Generation Prog Records. Having received all the info about the album during its recording process only increased my hunger to hear it, and luckily a few days ago I got that chance.
Coma Ghosts was mixed and mastered by the legendary Dan Swanö, well known name in underground circles. This fact will certainly have an impact in the band’s breakthrough to a wider progressive metal field. Comparing Coma Ghosts with their previous release, the Shades of Fate EP, Effloresce shows significantly improved musicianship. It’s evident that the songs were approached carefully, thus everything seems to be brought to perfection. Hypothetically, if Shades of Fate lacked for originality, with Coma Ghosts this factor is not questioned. The Nuremberg based quintet doesn’t escape from their influences. They have begun to base their sound around elements from Opeth’s Blackwater Park era and upgraded their own craftsmanship via singer / flutist Nicki Weber. Her vocals are mostly clean, but she doesn’t hesitate to deliver growl-screamwork in situations that simply require it.
Comprised of six numbers totaling a little bit less than 55 minutes, the album opens with Crib which scatters around a nice series of riffs a la Symphony X. All of the beauty lies between the masterfully developed rhythmic changes and melodiousness, which is achieved through Nicki’s clean vocals. This is actually what’s threading throughout the whole record. I feel like I should mention Agnete M. Kirkevaag from Madder Mortem, as Nicki’s singing is kind of reminiscent to this Norwegian vocalist. To quote from the album’s press sheet: ”Nicki takes the listener on a nightmarish trip through the bleakest corners of human existence, though there is always a little spark of hope that the soul of each of the songs’ protagonists is not lost (yet).“
The album’s flow is such that it will bring you down to the deepest abyss of the human existence and then bring you up again to its brightest moments. The multicolourness of Coma Ghosts certainly shines in its full glory on the album’s longest tracks, but shorter tracks (of which one comes as an interlude) complement the structure of the album and raise it to a higher level. That being said, the aforementioned interlude Undercoat, a track led by spacy synths and nice acoustic chord voicing is what separates and connects the two entities.
The first entity, made up of Crib, Spectre Pt. I: Zorya’s Dawn and Pavement Canvas, is a good introduction to the Coma Ghosts story. Crib, being an opener, exudes freshness that has been lacking from the vast field of albums my ears have heard in the last couple of months. On the other side, there is Zorya’s Dawn clocking over ten minutes, which simultaneously exudes futurism and antiquity. The song opens with the Mola-Ivanic guitar duo performing a classic riff cannonade guided by a huge Hammond melody line. A real ace. Pavement Canvas catches the run-up with a kind of ambient-atmospheric feeling, breaking out with a quality collection of riffs.
The Mellotron sound with acoustic accompaniment at the beginning of Swimming Through Deserts opens the second and final piece of Coma Ghosts. This track in particular is the dreamiest off the record, wriggling slowly down the album’s centerpiece – Shuteye Wanderer.
With its massive 16 and a half minutes, this epic discloses all the skills of the band, whether creativity or performance, complexity or easiness. Just like what Blackwater Park (the song) is for the album by the same name, structurally Shuteye Wanderer does the same on Coma Ghosts. It’s a closing achievement made of an army of exceptional moments, occupying a large space on a sonic journey through both ancient and futuristic.
With Coma Ghosts, Effloresce made a big step forward. It’s not only a big step forward because it achieves so many glorious moments, but because it makes us proud to know this fine group.
02. Spectre Pt. I: Zorya’s Dawn
03. Pavement Canvas
05. Swimming Through Deserts
06. Shuteye Wanderer
* Nicki Weber – vocals, flute
* Dave Mola – guitar, Mellotron
* Tim Ivanic – guitar
* Sebastian Ott – bass
* Tobias Süß – drums