A name like Only Echoes Remain may initially suggest to the listener a somewhat generic metalcore band, but this London four-piece purvey a textured, cinematic brand of instrumental space-rock that transcends initial expectations. OER’s debut, ‘The Exigent’, is a vaguely defined concept album, centring around a lone explorer. The story itself isn’t important but gives context to the bombast of the music.
Of course, ‘The Exigent’ has to build up to this, beginning with a dialogue between two pilots on ‘Dawn’, with some light, pretty piano backing. The album generally practices post-rock restraint but is particularly economical with time – despite the cinematic nature of the music, most tracks are under the five-minute mark.
There are heavier, more progressive metal influenced moments on ‘The Exigent’, as evidenced by the heavy riffing on songs like ‘Distant Echoes’ and ‘Aurora’. But to compliment this, OER add floaty and watery textures on both these tracks, as well as some strings on the former.
The longer tracks on ‘The Exigent’ give OER more room to play with, which they use wisely. ‘Descent/Impact’ slowly establishes atmosphere in its first half, before setting up a loud/quiet dynamic later in the track. Particularly notable is the textured, post-rock-style guitars in the song’s forefront, backed up by chugging metal riffs, a pairing which works surprisingly well.
The closer, ‘Of Stone and Stars’, is the longest track on the album at just over 10 minutes, and makes the most of this time. Starting with a simple acoustic riff, it graduates into some evocative guitar playing that’s been hinted at throughout the album but comes to fruition here. It’s longer run-time allows it to get more technical than other songs on ‘The Exigent’, which makes for an exciting end note.
With their debut LP, OER has created a wholly interesting blend of post-rock, space-rock and prog-metal which creates and maintains an epic, cinematic atmosphere that grips the listener. A fine start to a hopefully fruitful career.
‘The Exigent’ by Only Echoes Remain is out now.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)