Everyone has that one perfect album that they want to make. The one album that’ll change the game, get high scores, become a classic, and be basically perfect. Everyone has that master piece album that they envision in their head. Finn Zieler is no different, and I very much envision that this is what he had in mind when crafting a perfect creation. It would be an album that would be heralded throughout the ages as possibly the greatest album of all time, an album that musicians for years would aspire to try to even come close to replicating. At least, that’s what I think was going on in his head. In reality, it’s not the greatest album of all time. Nor is it even the greatest album of the year. Or even in the upper echelon. Or top half. Actually it’s not even good. Or average. Or bad. The reality is that ESC is an awful album that ranks among the worst I have reviewed this year, due to a fundamental disconnect between vision and actuality.
For starters, I was able to determine Zierler’s vision because it’s so damn obvious how hard this album is trying to be amazing. It throws the kitchen sink at you, and then adds a couple dozens more sinks just because. And it’s not just that this album has a lot, it’s how over the top it is. The piano in particular goes above and beyond reason, sounding more like one of those ridiculous, program made touhou piano remixes rather than a professional album. It makes it hard to take the music seriously. I’d say it even sounds goofy, like it’s from a cartoon. The way these guys blaze through notes like Paula Dean goes through butter makes this especially so, trading any kind of thoughtful song construction into “hey let’s see how many notes we can fit into here!”.
What’s worse is that there isn’t even any backup melody to offset this, it’s done almost entirely through chugging and rhythm guitar. It makes the music severely lacking in the depth department, often making the vocals the focus, despite them also being over the top and ridiculous. I’d even say they’re cringe worthy, and not in the fun power metal “let’s velveta on this track” way, but in the way where the band wants to be taken seriously, but they try so hard to get that result it ends up being laughable. One moment in particular that epitomizes this is on No chorus, where towards the middle end of the song they go into this spoken word rant about normality. It’s the typical shit some 16 year old would say on facebook as some sort of revelation, with the whole “normal doesn’t exist, it’s a construct of our society, I’m different and weird because I watch naruto and play pokemon in high school” etc. It makes me wonder if these guys actually think their music is weird. That would explain a lot about how they can think people would take them seriously. If they think this shit is weird, I’d love to hear what they would think of something like Beherit.
But the absolute worst part of this album is how god damn musically nonsensical it can be at times. The best example of this is on Dark to the Bone, specifically towards the middle end of the track. Normally I can write down what the riff/melody is on a song no problem. I couldn’t do that here, because there wasn’t any sort of main riff of logic behind the notes played. It’s essentially shitting around on the notes C D Eb G and Ab. Go back and listen to that, you’ll see what I mean. It sounds like essentially random notes. And that’s a constant throughout this record. Instead of going with distinct melodies and themes, it’s just fucks around on the keyboard and fret board as fast as they can, hoping something good comes out of it.
It’s a shame, because there are good sections on this record that display that this band has talent. The end of Evil Spirit is extremely beautiful, and god damn if it didn’t give me goose bumps and chills listening to it. And it happens because this is one of the only times on the album that this band slows down and gets musical. The background guitars play melodically. The solo guitar slows down. The pianist doesn’t piss all over the keyboard. Its good fucking music. If only this happened for the rest of the other 95% of the album, maybe this would’ve gotten a good score.