I think that the success of drone projects depends on a thoughtful, more intuitive, combination of simple yet effective elements. If such combination is chosen correctly, then the project gets its uniqueness, or at least, it sounds more or less interesting. If the author miscalculated and subconsciously copied something from the previously heard works of another musician, then rarely something good will come out of the work –stuff could be interesting in such case only for neophytes who had never heard this sort of music before. But the first release of the Echthros "Iyov" ("Job") draws attention with two most characteristic features: on the one hand, it is a product of the material world, which was incarnated in flesh of a leisurely, distorted guitar layers of primitive drone, and on the other hand, it is subtle and mysterious spiritual dark ambient with its unearthly atmosphere, however, in an amicable way, "marred" with deep professional bass vocals. Yes, this volume bass profundo is essentially a business card Echthros: Bartosh, the only member of the act, is a professional chorister, and due to the specifics of this activity is not only expertly wields his voice, but also picks up some interesting stories to their texts.
Thus, one of the songs on the album, the thirteen minute long "Iyov" is sung in Church Slavonic, an ecclesiastic language which is used exclusively in Orthodox messes. The solemn singing of Bartosz painting the dialogue of God and the Devil in darkest ceremonial colors, the very text was taken from Old Testament "Book of Job" - that is what I would have never expected to hear from the underground band, the effect of the combination of such sonorous yet solemn singing and detonating, viscous drone is amazing.
It's not my tendency to religious fanaticism, the fact that - in a nutshell - it sounds damn powerful, dark and unusual. The next track - "The Opponent" - is performed in the vein of dark ambient, but this designation is conditional: here the main melodic line is led by gentle chorus, sounding a quiet background, while Bartosz recites with pure and expressive voice (at this time in English) a metaphorical story about a man and the devil without the pathos of the church: "The demon sneaks among the trees. A handsome gentleman in the old-fashioned tuxedo. Everytime I look at him, he laughs. He mocks at me ... Why can not I expel him from my forest?" When I listen to this, the chills ran over the skin. After this song rattling drone-ritual "Procession" sounds as a logical continuation of the main motives of Echthros which are spiritual struggle, loss of hope, immersion in a search of eternal answers. Where can it lead? For some - to the attainment of faith in a Supreme Life what may be reflected in next, short of drone-standards, track "Prayer", which is a deep, full of bass, lingering prayer indeed. For others… Who am I to foretell?.. The other two not mentioned tracks are the album opener "Underneath" and the closing "Waiting", both of them is good in their own way, but I'm sure you’re able to taste it without my boring description, as the album is really worth of paying attention to devoted followers of drone / doom.
The uniqueness of Echthros is unequivocal - yes, the guitar sounds in a way of Sunn O))) (of course they must be mentioned just because we discuss drone band!), you may even hear a little bit of Grief, but "Iyov" is individual work, and the last thing you hear in it is an influence of other underground artists. Echtros is a very interesting form of the modern interpretation of ritual music, which is dressed in a severe distorted cassock, and sometimes it even sounds as a liturgical horror-story. But well it is pleasant that though the album was released while the minimum print run of 75 copies on the label Assonance Records, CD’s decorated with love and skill: a cardboard envelope with a laconic and expressive stencil design, lyrics texts are printed in old Church Slavonic and in English. Of course, there aren’t any difficulties to download the release via bandcamp-page of Echthros, but it’s pleasure to hold this work in hands, and investment of few dollars in such work of art of course has a meaning.
Words: Aleks Evdokimov
Echthros | Bandcamp
Echthros | Myspace