In 2018 Houston-based Wills Dissolve released their debut album, The Heavens Are Not On Fire…. Conceptually and lyrically, it was based on the Leonid meteor shower of November 1833, the first great meteor storm of modern times, in which hundreds of thousands of extraterrestrial projectiles blasted through the atmosphere per hour. In rural West Texas (as in other locales), it was mistaken as a sign from God, followed by destruction.
As fascinating as the concept was, in its meditation on religion, violence, and cosmic chaos, so too was the music. As our own Andy Synn wrote, it is “a phenomenal piece of Prog/Death wizardry….” “Clocking in at a mere five tracks but still supplying over forty-five minutes of spellbinding metallic magic, Wills Dissolve have produced something here that’s equally influenced by Edge of Sanity and Opeth as it is Isis and Neurosis, yet which effortlessly stands out as its own unique entity through a delicate blend of ambitious songwriting and artful execution.”
And now Wills Dissolve are returning with their second full-length, Echoes, which is a single 31 1/2 minute track. No sophomore slump here, once again the album turns out to be both conceptually and musically fascinating.
photo by Rick Custer (Andrew Caruana – Lead Guitar, Vocals, Programming / Nick Block – Guitars, Vocals, Synth / Shaun Weller – Bass, Vocals, Synth / Branson Heinz – Drums)
Accompanied by Adam Burke‘s stunning artwork, Echoes narrates the interstellar journey of a manned space-craft named Nebula-8, a journey across light years toward the Double Helix Nebula, a journey attempted by three previous probes that had simply disappeared, a vital journey on behalf of the last remnants of humanity in search of a habitable planet after human short-sightedness and hubris had rendered earth uninhabitable. The lyrics (and the music) narrate the observations of a Nebula-8 astronaut as their craft approaches the nebula, and the harrowing experiences that occur at journey’s end.
Though once again rooted in Progressive Metal, Echoes also incorporates a significant range of stylistic ingredients, spanning a gamut from Death Metal and Black Metal to Ambient and Prog-Rock, all of which flow in arresting fashion, pulling apart and locking together in ways that suit the album’s mind-bending narrative.
Today we’re presenting only an excerpt from the extravagant whole. Within the narrative of Echoes, this excerpt comes at a point when Nebula-8 has arrived at its destination and has begun to dive into a black abyss, an accretion disk composed of long-dead stars, with violent, excruciating results. Against a backdrop of shimmering ambient sounds, the listener is assaulted by jittery and jarring riffs, heavy hammering drums, and scarring growls. It’s a neck-bending sequence, but the mood of the music is tension-filled and ominous.
The music dissolves into lightness, with glistening notes and a seductively humming bass creating an ethereal and entrancing spell. Through soaring sung vocals, we’re given a window into the astronaut’s mind as he wonders where he is and fears that he is falling toward certain demise, “powerless / dying alone in this emptiness”. This interlude becomes a head-moving experience too, thanks to a riveting in-sync bass-and-drum performance, and even more enthralling, thanks to a jazzy guitar solo (the instrument tuned to resemble a tenor sax).
The spacecraft’s system, which had crashed in the violent descent portrayed at the outset of the excerpt, begins to reboot. As it does so, bursts of thunderous drumming and pulverizing fretwork intrude upon the reverie, and then the music explodes in a nova of double-bass and fiery guitar leads. The riffing jolts, jars, and swirls, accompanied by deep growls and sung words, which portray orders given to the astronaut from the home base to reverse his journey — and his resistance to doing so, coupled with the realization that death is looming.
The conclusion of this unsettling but electrifying musical epic comes next on the album, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer to experience that (spoiler: it’s stunning), as well as the spectacular musical phenomena that precede this excerpt within the framework of Echoes.
Echoes was recorded and engineered by by Andrew Caruana and Nick Block, mixed by Andrew Caruana, and mastered by Brad Boatright at AudioSiege. It includes guest vocals by Damian Smith (Altars of Grief), a flute solo by Mary Campbell Foster, and additional backing vocals by Kaitlyn Stanley, Nicholas Babbitt, Jerik Thibodeaux, and Jai Benoit.
The album will be released on August 28th by Hypnotic Dirge Records in an out-of-the-ordinary digipack CD edition. which is also offered in bundles with related merch. The digital version of the album is available on the HDR Bandcamp page for a token pre-order price. It will of be available as a name-your-price download upon the release date.
We’re also including a video trailer for the record which provides a further taste of of the new music, as well as some discussion of the theme and approach to the album by Andrew and Nick.
This is very, very cool.