REVIEW: WHAT ESCAPES ME – “Egress Point”
Only on rare occasions does a music fan get to hear the debut album by a band he’s never heard of and find himself being massively impressed. What Escapes Me’s self-funded debut ‘Egress Point’ is certainly one of those albums. What Escapes Me hails from India, a country I admit I didn’t particularly associate with metal, until recently. This is mostly because here in the States, when someone uses the words ‘India’ and ‘music’ in the same sentence, it’s inevitably followed up with the word ‘sitar’. All of which is to say, unlike the US or Europe, whose scenes and sounds I’m familiar with, I know next to nothing about the scene that What Escapes Me calls home, but I do know that the rest of the world needs to start paying attention to it.
The band plays the more extreme end of progressive and experimental metal, my favorite metal sub-genre, with flashes of what some would refer to as djent. I personally hate the term, and won’t burden this band with all the connotations that the word implies. Playing progressive metal, certain expectations arise for bands entering the fray. Prog metal has many elements, but complexity and technical prowess tend to rise above all other concerns, generally speaking, a fact which is off-putting for some listeners. For a debut album, What Escapes Me rises to the challenge and has produced a twisting, interlocking barrage of polyrhythms, time signature changes, and precise playing, while at the same time bringing in plenty of strong melodies and vocal lines.
Vocalist Shourav Kumar Dey both screams and sings crystal-clear clean vocals. The combination of his vocal style, the intricate and thundering rhythm section of Sambit Chatterjee (drums) and Pradyumna Laskarand (bass) combined with the chugging riffs of guitarists Arindam Sen and Sayan Ghosh, bring to mind the British masters of this style –TesseracT, and also their use of complex prog riffs and structures, but still remembering the emotional effect of well-written melody. Despite the chaos swirling around them, the melody lines in ‘Egress Point’ will get stuck in your head for days.
“My Reality” starts off with a half minute or so of jaunty jazz, the first appearance of the style on the album, and it perfectly sets up the upcoming screams that immediately follow. The song does, however, contain the lone hiccup on the album –there is a short spoken-word section in the middle, which is very awkward, and doesn’t fit well with the rest of the song nor the album as a whole. It’s not especially jarring, but it does always take me out of the song, and raise an eyebrow. “Section 66 Part 5” is another track that grabs you by the throat, at first throttling you into submission, before a brief, calm chorus gives you a false sense of security, and you are once again thrown into the bludgeoning beauty of the rest of the song. The album as a whole is a thing of beauty, and as any metal fan knows, brutality can be beautiful, especially when mixed with proper doses of harmony and melody. For capturing that so well on a debut album, What Escapes Me deserves to be seriously commended.
‘Egress Point’ is an excellent album with flashes of brilliance. Any progressive metal fan owes it to himself or herself to seek What Escapes Me out and to give this album some serious listening time because it’s as good, or even better than what many of their European contemporaries are putting out. This is a band that the metal world needs to watch for as they can only grow from here, and that is a very exciting thought. I don’t know where the metal scene in India stands, but if this album is any indication, it’s in good hands, and the rest of the world will start paying attention to it very soon.