Label: Scarlet Records
Release Date: March 23rd, 2018
It is not often that I get to review a band of metal veterans like Eldritch. Cracksleep is their eleventh album to date, and the band blends progressive metal and power metal into a concoction of vibrant riffs and atmospheric melodies. Cracksleep is a concept album based on common causes and symptoms of insomnia. Most concept albums I listen to are based on stories such as “Them” by King Diamond, or “Operation Mindcrime” by Queensryche.
Cracksleep begins with the title track which is a minute and a half long instrumental that begins with a piano melody to set the pace for the rest of the album, the whole song sounds reminiscent of a movie intro with its orchestral opening before the second track, Reset, begins. Reset begins with a chugging riff that sounds great from the first listen to the fifth the whole song beats with this vibrant energy throughout it and halfway in, the piano takes control of the track before attention is passed to the guitar for a ripping solo that helps to close out the song. Deep Frost is the third song up to the plate and its where I began to catch on that most of the bands sound was headed by the piano and the guitar crafting the rhythms and melodies within each song. The chorus of the song is what really stands out to me throughout it, while I enjoy everything else, it seems like the vocals are a focus within this song.
Aberration of nature is the fourth song on the bill, and to me it sounds closer to power metal than anything else on the album. The lyrics “I see my face in the mirror” is one of the most memorable parts of the album and I always think of them when I listen to the album. There are a couple of very enjoyable drum fills and even a pseudo breakdown that leads into an awesome guitar solo that tackles the speed of a power metal solo and the precision of a prog metal solo. My breath is a stark contrast between the ripping speed of the past few songs, instead being a touching love song. The song is similar to a ballad from some classic heavy metal bands, yet it has a flare that makes it Eldritch, maybe its the piano along with the quiet string instruments playing under the rest of the track.The guitar solo near the end of the song solidifies this as great metal ballad for that special playlist.
Silent Corner marks the halfway point for the album and it marks another solid song. Around this point some songs start sounding a little same-y but that doesn’t take the enjoyment away and there are always the solos to put a nice flair onto each and every song. As the Night Crawls in is the seventh number and it opens with a lone piano before a sick riff finds its way into the melody and the percussion adds another layer of aggression to the song. This is one of the more percussively experimental songs on the album and while every song experiments somewhat with each instrument, it can really be heard here. We aren’t getting the generic “tic tic tac tic tic tac” of most power metal songs which helps set this apart; although I feel the vocals themselves are lacking in depth.
Track eight, Voices calling, has a much more fast paced feeling than many other songs and it’s because of a common occurrence within the music. It’s regular for the instruments to slow down and make songs drag so that the vocalist can take center stage and it has a negative effect for the most part. For everything this song does right it does something just as wrong, while the drags are less frequent they’re much longer, something I hoped wouldn’t happen with the singing technique displayed in the song. Track nine, Staring at the Ceiling is another good tune from the band but it really lacks an ability to stand out due to its fairly average sound. As the album goes on longer and longer it’s hard not to notice the sudden lack of really great stand out solos which is a shame considering they are one of the bands strongest points. With the lack of stand out solos comes the blur of the last few songs where they all sound kind of same-y; the second to last track, Night Feelings, snapped me out of the blur for a moment with the second solo in the song but it quickly returns afterwards. Hidden Friend is an odd choice for an ending track as it wouldn’t sound out of place anywhere else on the album, yet it feels like a lackluster finale. Instead of a fast epic piece, or a last hurrah, it is a slow, monotonous walk that leaves me craving more. Even the solo in this final track is disappointing to listen to, its more of a ballad than it is a fast ripping solo, which would be fine had this not been such a slow song already.
In conclusion, the band know what they are doing, they know their sound and have been around the block a few times. I am somewhat disappointed in the release as I imagined something more aligned with Dragonforce than Dream Theater. I will say that what I recieved is a good album, by a good band, that is easy to listen to and has plenty of good tracks that I would not mind hearing come on when I hit shuffle.
3. Deep Frost
4. Aberration of Nature
5. My Breath
6. Silent Corner
7. As the Night Crawls In
8. Staring at the Ceiling
9. Night Feelings
10. Hidden Friend
Total Playing Time: 51:58
The epitome of power metal and folk metal (although a big fan of doom too). You can catch me playing/writing for dungeons and dragons with my friends at the local tabletop game store.