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On disc: Estrum

- Estrum - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars


(self-distribution - 2007)

There a few bands from Texas, but I couldn't name one with a female singer or a prog band... Well, with Estrum this should change soon. The sextet from Austin is presenting a demo-CD with 3 tracks as a kind of appetizer for a coming album. They started to promote themselves in early 2007 via the web and soon made many friends on MySpace which got them on #13 unsigned progressive band world-wide!
Musically the band is influenced by 70's prog metal, rock and bands like Pink Floyd and Tool. The first track is called Abiosis - a very atmospheric song. They create soundscapes and the vocals of Zena McKelvy remind me a bit of Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering)... Some might say Evanescence, but in my opinion it's just Zena's deep voice which gives this impression - her phrasing is different. But their music is more complex then the latest work of the Dutch. Progressive rock with heavy riffing carries you away into the soundspheres of Estrum. A melancholy tune with touching vocals of Zena, but there is also a spark of hope.... Later in the song they speed up a bit...interesting drum pattern, but soon return to the chorus. During the chorus John Bellizia adds some bass line which let me think of the Twin Peaks soundtrack... It get's more heavy with Yours. The opening is dominated by Brian McClain's drums and Bellizia's bass which build a sharp contrast to the 'singing' guitars of Jason Rufuss Sewell and Jordan Peterson which get supported by Erik Christianson's keyboard. The vocals are bit jazzy and Zena uses her voice like an instrument. In the middle part they take you into some Floyd-ish soundscapes - and it has a bit of old Kaipa. Later in the song some heavy riffs give some metal sound, while for a short part the vocals are more singer-songwriter-like... Then more jazzy. Estrum accept no limitation in their songs and mix different styles to create their own sound. The last track is Narcolepsy - unfortunately no lyrics came with the demo-CD, but that's something to talk about. A bit more relaxed they start into Narcolepsy, but it's a kind of musical roller-coaster ride... Slow and emotional at first, then hard riffs and heavy drums - and on top Zena's voice.
The sextet has already achieved to create their own sound and the different elements show their musicianship. I don't think that it will take long for them to ink a deal. This isn't music for the masses, but prog fans should check them out!!!

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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