Return To Type is the debut album of the British so-called post-progressive rock band Ethers Edge. The music is inspired by bands like Tool, Porcupine Tree and Opeth. Return to Type is a conceptual album telling the dark story of people struggling with their demons. This is what their website says: 'after a drunken encounter they become besotted by a new flame, but their shadowy former life returns and consumes them once more. Only this time there is no-one to save them from themselves.' Main musician of Ethers Edge is singer Bazza Preece who also plays guitar, bass, synths and drums. On a few songs he's assisted by Simmy Blankley (guitar), Emmy Hemstock (cajon), Adam Chippendale (guitar) and Jesse Frizzell (drums). All songs were written, recorded and produced by Preece. On Return To Type you mostly hear powerful and modern progrock.
The first track Here I Am is a good example of Ethers Edge's musical concept. Melodic and tranquil parts are alternating with powerful eruptions. I think Bazza Preece seems to have listened to the proggers of Riverside. Listen to The Routine and you'll know what I mean. Also Whitewashed Everything is a pungent and interesting composition with piano and fine guitar strumming. The music on Facing Reality pulls you into a kind of trance. It's not easy to get used to the nagging voice of Preece, but on the other hand it fits well in the dark atmosphere of the title track. The first instrumental track is Writer's Void. You can enjoy hard-edged guitar sounds, soaring keyboards and thundering drums packed in an ominous atmosphere of graveyards. The diversity in the music of Ethers Edge is also shown in this song with changing rhythms from slow to up-tempo. The second instrumental is the beautiful piece Dreamtime Calling, a kind of mixture of the acoustic music of Steve Hackett and Steve Howe immediately followed by the heavy track Don't Follow. The middle-section of this piece is spacey and more or less in the vein of an early Porcupine Tree-song. There's a lot of tightness in this eight-minute fantasy tale having a rough finale filled with fiery guitar riffs and a surprising end with the same acoustic music of Dreamtime Calling. The final song Life's Light also contains interesting parts with close harmony singing; a good epilogue of one hour of interesting progressive rock music.
If you like kind of experimental progressive rock with a lot of variety I can recommend Ethers Edge, but beware! You have to listen to it when you're on your own in a dark and cold room. If you do so I'm sure you will enjoy this special album.
***+ Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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