|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 58:21|
Fall Of Echoes represents a collaboration between Orphan Project lead vocalist Shane Lankford and Visual Cliff guitarist Rob Perez. Working together for the first time in 2005 when Lankford contributed the vocal tracks to three songs on the most recent Visual Cliff release Freedom Within, the two formed a bond and soon began talking about the possibility of joining their talents and creating a full length album. The end result of their efforts is Fall Of Echoes and its very fine 2006 debut Red Tree.
What Fall Of Echoes delivers is a straightforward hard rock sound in which the progressive and symphonic leanings of Orphan Project are merged with the best fusion elements of Visual Cliff. While the band is at its best on guitar driven tracks such as “Groaning” and “Land Of No Choices”, I find the more acoustic laced sounds of “9th Floor” and “Red Tree” to hold up equally well. Some of the albums finest moments, however, take place on progressive influenced numbers like “Mr. Orion” – with its extended jam sessions – and the creative time changes characteristic to “Darkness Inside” and “Beyond My Closed Eyes”. In the end, Red Tree comes with a strong recommendation to fans of not only Orphan Project and Visual Cliff, but to those who are into Shadow Gallery, King’s X, Mike Florio and Neal Morse as well.
Lankford’s rich and warm sounding vocal style helps to give the band its signature sound, his impassioned delivery helping to put “9th Floor”, “Beyond My Closed Eyes” and other standout tracks over the top. I can honestly say that he is one of my favorite vocalists to his the scene in recent years. Rob Perez proves a virtuoso on guitar, contributing the albums air tight work on rhythm guitar in addition to playing a major role in its songwriting. Rick Mals, also of Visual Cliff, was brought in on drums and lead guitar, adorning “Land Of No Choices” with his searing leads while cutting loose in bluesy fashion on “Beyond My Closed Eyes”. Orphan Project bassist Bill Yost was brought in to help anchor the albums low end.
Production values are excellent in showcasing a sound that is full and textured while allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix.
“Groaning” gets underway to ominous sounding keyboards that transition to a forward rise of dark sounding rhythm guitar, briefly pausing before moving on to a sweeping chorus with a huge, catchy hook. The song temporarily slows for its quietly played bridge only to pick up in pace as the rhythm guitar returns in full fury. Great song. “Groaning” talks about the sinful and fallen nature of man:
As the earth is growing
Of all the sin I’ve sown
As the ground is breaking
I here it everywhere
Still an echoes heard
Of a choice the first one made
He passed it down
Forcing us to bare the weight
Who can lift it off
Take it all away only You can only You
Red Tree moves in an acoustic laced progressive rock direction on “Mr. Orion”. The two minute instrumental section opening the song begins to a keyboards solo that gives way to an ethereal blend of acoustic guitar and guitar feedback. Continuing to move forward in an acoustic based direction, “Mr. Orion” calmly progresses through its first verse prior to reaching a chorus resonating a delicate but perfect finesse filled ambience. Upon reaching its bridge, however, the song gains momentum to a driving rhythm guitar that shores up its second chorus in a heavier and edgier sounding manner. “Mr. Orion” reflects upon the wonders of creation:
I gaze above
As many have
I'm trying hard to understand
The Story Of
The Great Design
The work of His glorious Hands
Envious of your
ill never leave this earth during my life span
but time is not eternal
the universe is ending
And God has made me part of Heavens plan
The hard rocking “Darkness Inside” kicks in to a blend of rhythm guitar and organ, a deep and resounding setting put in place as an edgy rhythm guitar pulls it ahead at a compelling mid-tempo pace. The song proceeds to flow through a maze of creative time changes in catchy fashion, slowing for a quietly played guitar line before the rhythm guitar returns to take things to their close hard and heavy. In the end, “Darkness Inside” deserves to rank with the albums better tracks; however, it ends somewhat abruptly and, as a result, I cannot help but think it could have been extended by an additional minute or two.
“9th Floor” is calmly compelled through its introduction by an acoustic guitar prior to picking up the tempo upon reaching its first verse. Maintaining the acoustic laced momentum, the song is highlighted by a trace of backing vocals for its pre-chorus only to give rise to a catchy melody upon reaching a chorus gently shored up by a piano. Beautiful song.
A blend of quietly played guitar and distant piano helps take “Little Girl Lost” through its introduction. Building initiative for its first verse, an acoustic laced direction is sustained by the song until it reaches a melodic flavored chorus advancing at an even mid-tempo pace. While certainly far from bad, I actually find this to be the albums least noteworthy composition in that is lacks that “extra something special” the better material here brings to the table. I can see how others might get into this one, though.
“Red Tree (Intro)” is a mini instrumental (1:11) carried by a quirky mix of drums, guitar and vocal harmonies.
The albums title track commences to a slowly moving amalgamation of rhythm and acoustic guitar. “Red Tree” proceeds to incrementally advance in an acoustically driven manner, picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar steps forward in time to drive an infectious chorus talking about the salvation experience:
Tears fall from the Red Tree
Drowning out the life in me
Washed to where the air is new
Alive again because of You
I really enjoy how the song interweaves its bridge with some swirling King’s X style backing vocals. “Red Tree” comes across in the form of a double meaning for the cross:
On the Red Tree You cried
On the Red Tree I died
All that I would owe
My debt forever paid
You paid all that I would owe
“Land Of No Choices” embarks to a hard hitting riff before progressing through its first verse at a hard rocking upbeat tempo. Decelerating, a slower and more laid back environment is put in place as the song achieves an atmospheric chorus blended with a lush acoustic guitar. Rick Mals punctuates the song with some of the albums best blazing lead guitar work.
“Y.F.M.O. (You Freak Me Out)” is a very well done groove laden hard rocker. A whispered voice states “Who do you think you are?” before the song takes off in a quickly moving fashion, the upbeat initiative held up during its verse portions as industrial influenced keyboards decorate the background. The aggressively delivered chorus that ensues is perfectly accentuated by distorted backing vocals. This one also featuring a rousing stretch of lead guitar work.
The hard hitting riff introducing “Beyond My Closed Eyes” gives way to a quietly played guitar line upon acquiring its first verse. Slowly moving forward to Lankford’s rich vocal delivery, momentum is gained as the song reaches a sublime chorus giving rise to an abundance of grand and stately ardor. What we have here is another very fine progressive influenced number holding up under its numerous time changes.
The haunting ballad “She Fits Well” fades in before keyboards help lead the way through its first and second verse, a poignant atmosphere put in place as it gains a hold of a chorus immaculately conveyed in a tranquil and serene manner. “She Fits Well” reflects the heart of the psalmist:
Give me strength to make it over
Hills so high
As I can barely make it
Carry me Lord
“While I’m Alive” closes Red Tree in good, hard rocking fashion. The song slowly and gradually plows its way ahead from the start to a forward mix of crunchy rhythm guitar, not culminating until a piano enters the mix as it obtains a catchy and non-stop hook-filled chorus. A very fine ending to an all around solid album.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Groaning” (5:20), “Mr. Orion” (7:39), “Darkness Inside” (4:06), “9th Floor” (5:42), “Little Girl Lost” (5:06), “Red Tree (Intro) “(1:11), “Red Tree” (6:10), “Land Of No Choices” (4:21), “Y.F.M.O.” (4:49), “Behind My Closed Eyes” (5:19), “She Fits Well” (3:13), “While I’m Alive” (5:18)
Shane Lankford – Lead Vocals
Rob Perez – Guitars
Rick Mals – Guitars & Drums
Bill Yost – Bass