Effloresce – Coma Ghosts
I’ve mentioned before how sometimes I don’t get progressive metal, and so I don’t listen to whole lot of it. But I’m not closed to the idea of listening to it more or learning more about it, and so I took on the task of reviewing Nürnberg, Germany’s Effloresce, a five-piece female-fronted prog outfit who just released this month their debut album, Coma Ghosts. It followed up a three-track EP, entitled Shades of Fate that was released in 2009. Coma Ghosts has six tracks and clocks in at just over 54 minutes.
Right off the bat, with the opening track, “Crib”, you know you’re going to hear something different because it starts off with an organ melody. This opener is very strong; it’s catchy, riffy, and we are introduced to the more ethereal qualities of singer Nicki’s voice. Nicki also performs the death metal-ish growls we hear every so often throughout the album, and she also plays the flute. I love the flute – I used to play it myself – so I really enjoy hearing it in metal.
Nicki’s vocals are one of the highlights of the album overall. She has strong pipes and a wonderful mellifluous quality to her voice that, while bright and sweet, is not saccharine or over-embellished. As far as her death metal growls are concerned (they first appear in the second track, “Spectre Pt.I: Zorya’s Dawn”), I can’t really comment because I’m not a fan of that vocal style at all so I don’t know how to judge them.
That second track, measuring over 10 and a half minutes in length, is another strong song – it’s also where we first hear the flute – but it brings up some of my issues with the genre of prog overall, and that is song length. Obviously, some of the main elements of prog are it’s complex song structures and more lengthy songs, but sometimes to me those very elements seem like drawbacks because I either get confused as to what I’m listening to (is this one song…or two…or three? have I missed a transition somewhere here?), or I kind of lose my attention span because some prog songs seem to meander quite a bit. Or, another way of putting it is, prog makes me feel dumb because I often just don’t “get” it.
The longest song on the album is the final one, “Shuteye Wanderer.” It’s over 16 and a half minutes long and it loses me early. I’m not saying I have a short attention span (well, not normally) and I’m not saying I don’t like or appreciate longer songs, but I just don’t want to feel lost or confused by listening to one. And 16:31 minutes is a pretty long song…isn’t it?
Coma Ghosts does offer a bit of balance, with a very mellow, slow – and shorter – song, in the middle of the album, called “Undercoat,” and there is a nice semi-acoustic song named “Swimming Through Deserts” that is quite ballady and lovely.
I think this is a really strong start for Effloresce, despite some of my issues with it. The compositions themselves are strong and the music is good. I wish this band all the best because I see their talent, I just got lost a few times along the journey Coma Ghosts took me on.
Allyson’s rating: 3.5 out of 5