Let’s get the necessary cliche right out of the way: Ottowa’s Eclipser has a little something for everyone.
Okay, “everyone” might be a bit of a stretch, because black metal with vocals this harsh and screechy isn’t likely to appeal to grandma (unless she’s Grandma), but within the realm of metal, most folks are going to find something appealing on debut Pathos. It has those screeching vocals and the type of bombast that you’d expect to accompany them, but relies only on The Riff to achieve said bombast, eschewing the bells and whistles you might get from the symphonic black realm. It also occasionally hits with some death metal riffage, is a touch progressive and technical but never “prog” or “tech,” and is loaded with melodies both epic and malevolent.
More than anything, there’s a sense that Eclipser’s songs are always headed somewhere significant, that there is always a payoff. The closing title track in particular shows off the band’s songcraft, building a mood with a combination of lighter melodies and churning, subdued menace before exploding into that aforementioned bombast and some truly cutting tremolo lines. It gives the song, and in turn the whole album, a nice sense of resolution, and these types of successful turns happen throughout Pathos.
The band also has a bit of a distinctive sound, despite only forming two years ago. A huge part of this is due to the high register, charismatic vocals of Franky Falsetto (supposedly his real name), which screech at a near-Dani Filth range but stop short of the really inhuman sounds. When doubled with some lower, throatier vocals from guitarist Ryan Menard, as during a punchy passage of “Sorrow Spirals,” the voices are all the more effective. But just as essential for the distinctive feel is that bass, which throbs and dwongs all over the place, providing a link to bands like Ulcerate but also providing a lot of countermelody and depth when the music really gets into interwoven mode.
Another big selling point of Pathos is that it’s only about 30 minutes long. Brevity is commendable for bands that are just getting started, and combining brevity with a very well written set of songs, slightly distinctive sound, and overall professional vibe results in a damn good debut record. Eclipser offers a true extreme metal melting pot, showing obvious reverence towards their heroes without being afraid to test the limits of those influences just so. As stated at the start, this should please many an ear, but it also feels like just an opening act, and I’ll be curious to see what the band might produce if they start stretching out even more.