Review: Gone Is Gone – Echolocation

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I am absolutely pathetic when it comes to keeping track of new releases. I often browse through the Toilet’s numerous posts highlighting such material, making notes to return to various releases on Bandcamp and such and then neglecting to. Inevitably, when the end of the year arrives, which my calendar informs me was quite recently, I scroll through the end of year lists of various Toileteers and remember that I have, once again, failed at keeping up with awesome new music. But alas, new year means new me, right?! To hell with all those posers who are going to spend two months in the gym and then quit. I’ll spend those months in front of computer, actually keeping up with new music…and hopefully I won’t quit. For now at least, I’m still on the horse, and I’m here to tell you my thoughts about the new album, and first full-length, from Gone Is GoneEcholocation.

For those who don’t know or remember, Gone Is Gone is the (TRIGGER WARNING: LOADED WORD INCOMING) supergroup formed by Mastodon‘s bassist and singer Troy Sanders, along with Troy Van Leeuwan (Queens of the Stone Age), Tony Hajjar (At the Drive-In), and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin (source!). Prior to Echolocation, the band released a roughly 30-minute self-titled EP back in July 2016. I enjoyed it, but didn’t find it remarkable enough to keep on listening, and certainly wasn’t itching to put the release on any form of year-end list. In short, I feel roughly the same way about Echolocation. If you will allow it, I’ll explain further.

The first thing you’ll notice with Gone Is Gone is how dominant Sanders’ bass is. I don’t see this as a problem, as I genuinely enjoy his bass playing and get tired of rock and metal acts hiding their bass guitars deep in the mix. It’s not that the guitars are too low, it’s more just that Sanders’ bass seems to be the driving force on many of the songs on the album. At times, the bass and guitar are playing almost the same riff and they really blend together. Overall, the production is really emphasizing that low end and giving the guitars an almost wall-of-sound vibe. It’s not quite as wall-of-sound as some material from Devin Townsend (or, for a slightly older crowd, some Phil Spector-produced material), but it definitely feels somewhat…er…”wall-ish,” I guess. It doesn’t make the listening experience unenjoyable, although it does make it hard for individual tracks to stand out to me.

The album starts off slow, with a relatively atmospheric introduction on “Sentient.” This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Zarin has done a lot of soundtrack work for film trailers and video games. However, to me, it clashes with the wall-of-sound production. It takes awhile for us to get into the riffs. Atmosphere is great, but I personally feel it works better when utilizing a production style that allows for a little more dynamic. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the atmospheric parts of the album, it’s that the production causes them to blend together and makes the songs feel less memorable.

It’s not until the third track, “Resurge,” that I feel the album really kicks into high gear. It’s got a little more drive to it, and the riffs definitely stand out, especially in the intro and outro. Then it’s quiet again for the next track, “Dublin,” before picking it up for the next two. This is generally my experience with Echolocation. My mind starts to wander during the atmospheric sections before being hooked back in by a good riff a song or two later. I don’t want to knock Sanders and co. for branching out musically. This album escapes the usual supergroup pitfall of sounding like a mash-up of the various members’ bands. It does, in fact, feel quite fresh. However, the songs themselves are not truly captivating. Sanders’ vocals work for the haunting and atmospheric vibe that the group is going for, but he is simply too monotonous, which doesn’t allow the listener to get hooked on any track in particular.

Regardless, I still enjoyed my time with this album. It’s a good change of pace from each of the member’s main bands, and I have to say that the idea and concept is there. The visuals, album art and videos included, work well with the music and create an identity totally separate from Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age, or At the Drive-In. It is not especially metal, but it does have a heavy and brooding vibe that should appeal to the fans of those bands while simultaneously offering something fresh. If those are bands you dig, especially Mastodon given Troy’s prominent vocals here, I would definitely recommend checking out Echolocation. My favorite track, by far, is “Pawns,” which pulls together the memorable riffs with some especially punishing drums and dense atmosphere. Check it out in the video below. Yep.

3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hellish Dankness

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You can get Gone Is Gone’Echolocation, which was released by Rise Records, from wherever it is you get music, but here’s their official site that lists all those places.

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