‘Eidolon’ by Lunar [Album Review]

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Background from Band

After the debut album, THEOGONY, received numerous raving reviews even being called a “masterpiece” and “A record everyone must own. Every generation and every country should adore an album like this.” And even made #23 on Prog-Sphere’s Top albums of 2017.

In the Spring of 2018 Ryan Erwin (guitars) unexpectedly passed away, leaving Alex Bosson (drums) unsure of what to do. After some time passed, he decided to persevere through the tragedy and continue on with LUNAR. Using the tragedy as inspiration, he began writing the next album, EIDOLON – another concept album based around the cycle of life and death and the stages of grief that the ones left behind feel. After writing all the music for the album, Alex enlisted friend Balmore Lemus (NOVAREIGN) to handle tracking guitars for this album. And with Ryan Price and Chandler Mogel (OUTLOUD, DOUBLE VISION) both returning again, the lineup for EIDOLON was set.

In keeping with the diversity that the guest musicians brought to THEOGONY, Alex decided to continue with that idea. By the end of recording, a total of 18 musicians contributed to EIDOLON – this time including members of Haken, Thank You Scientist, Fallujah, Leprous & Caligula’s Horse, to name a few. EIDOLON is another journey of progressive metal at its finest, spanning 7 tracks and nearly an hour of material. Once again being released through Divebomb Records, EIDOLON was released last November, and is available NOW!

When to Use Screams

I need to take a minute to talk about the screaming on this album.

I’m not a big fan of screaming in general in music. I don’t mind it in small doses but I find that it can lose its potency quickly when used too much. In this case, it’s not overuse of screaming because it’s only in the first couple of songs. Instead has more to do with me inwardly cringing every time I hear it for two important reasons. One is song composition-wise because it’s a little bit of a weird fit. And the second is technique-wise because they’re not doing it right so it just sounds painful.

Let’s talk about the composition part first.

The overall sound of the album tends to go more towards a classic rock kind of vibe with a higher register vocal. Not uncommon in rock music to have a higher male register for the leading vocal and the vocals are really good.

However, the screaming is done in a lower and growling register. When someone has a higher range, and they do screams, they tend to do the screams in their mix range. So if someone has that higher registered it’s easier for them to get the support they need for doing that scream if they go to where their voice has the most mobility and the most power, which is their mix. And there are lots of resonance available when you’re in that register too.

For some reason in this album, they go into a little low register when it comes to the screams. I don’t know if the person who does the lead vocal also does the screams because sometimes they’re different people. Sometimes there’s a person who is better at doing screams but they’re not the lead singer. However, it does feel odd to have something that’s very heavy metal or post-hardcore kind of scream with a vocal that’s closer to hair metal and glam rock. It’s an odd juxtaposition that I’m not a huge fan of.

Screaming 101

On the technique side of things, they’re just doing the scream vocal incorrectly.

We’ll have to talk a little bit about how sound is made. Just bear with me for a little bit.

So screams aren’t screams in music because you’re not intensifying your voice or raising the volume in any way like you would for an actual scream. What you’re doing in a scream register is that you bring together your secondary vocal folds.

For those who didn’t have to take multiple classes about vocal tract anatomy like I did to get my Linguistics degree, there are two sets of vocal folds in the larynx. There are your true vocal folds that you’re going to use when you’re talking in a normal register and the ones that you’re going to sing with when you aren’t manipulating the sound.

And there are set above that that is called secondary vocal folds. They’re almost vocal folds but not really. But you vibrate them and create a sound the same as your vocal folds do.

The secondary vocal folds are only used when you want to add some rasp to your voice without wearing out your actual vocal folds. This happens a lot with a lower register. If you’ve ever heard a woman use vocal fry, they’re able to lower their voice but maintain closure with their vocal folds. The vocal folds loosen and open up to get that lower register.

However, female vocal folds aren’t as large as male ones so they can’t vibrate as easily when they’re in that relaxed, open state so they can’t get those lower frequencies. If they bring together their secondary vocal folds, they can still maintain some closure and it’s easier for them to sit in that lower register and still have more than just are coming out.

When you’re screaming, you’re using your normal vocal folds and then you’re bringing together at your secondary vocal folds to add an extra layer of rasp and manipulation to get that scream quality. You don’t need to increase your volume, you don’t need to use more air, and you don’t need to put more effort into your voice. This is why heavy metal vocalists can scream their way through an hour-long concert and not completely ruined their voice like all of the people in the crowd who are yelling and screaming and cheering them on who will be croaky for the next couple of days.

When I’m listening to this album, and I can hear this popping quality–this grit to the screaming–it means that they’re singing from their main vocal folds for the scream and they’re putting stress on them. That’s how you throw your voice out and hurt yourself, so when I hear it, I want it to stop not because I don’t want screaming in the song but because I’m legitimately worried about them wrecking their voice.

It’s just not a sustainable way of singing, and I think part of it–if the person is doing the screaming and the main vocalist is the same person–is because they have a naturally higher register when they’re singing, and they’re trying to hit that lower frequency with the scream. If that’s true, then trying to get the scream in their normal, higher mixed register will be a lot easier, and it’ll be a lot less stress on their voice, which will be much better in the long run.

Instruments

It took me a little while to get into this album entirely because I had to get over all of the stuff with screaming, but I did eventually really enjoy this one.

What caught my attention was the instrumentation on it. They’re only seven songs this album, but they tend to be on the longer side. However, the songs don’t feel long because there’s a lot of dynamics happening in the actual music. Whether it’s slowing down to something almost acoustic in the middle of a track before coming back with all of these layers of electric sounds, or changing the intensity of the song partway through. There are even long instrumental sections, which I think are cool.

The point is that I was always picking up different things that were happening in the backing track, and I never noticed that a song was going on for a long time. It’s only when I bothered to look at the tab where I was streaming that I saw how long the songs were.

I have to acknowledge the fact that this might make it less accessible to a lot of people.

I love instrumentals and long, crazy layered songs so, I can get really into an album like this. But it’s not an album about catchy hooks or songs that are easy to sit down and listen to for a little while and have a fun time. So I might like this aspect of the album, but I understand that it’s a specific kind of audience that will agree with me on it.

Vocals

I also want to touch on the vocals just for a second. The main vocals on this album were good, and a couple of times when I was just mentally making notes of the range on their singer. He has a higher register than you usually get with a male vocalist in that he can hit some pretty high notes. Things that feel high for me to sing and I have a pretty solid soprano voice, so I think I know high note when I sing it. They can be a little bit warbly at times, but for the most part, they’re just good vocals with good backing tracks, and while I didn’t find myself bopping along to any of these tracks, is it still one of those albums where I feel like the more I go back and listen to it the more interesting I’m going to find.

And I love albums that feel kind of like an Easter egg hunt where you need to figure out where all the goodies are. I think this album is pretty cool, and I’m going to have to go back and listen to it a few more times before I start to figure out how it works. But I’m excited to do it.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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