‘Head First Into Shadows’ is the captivating second album from EchO, an atmospheric doom metal band from Italy. It’s an involved and engaging listen that shows a band colouring their material with rich texture and substance, producing 50 minutes of sublime darkness that can’t fail to pull the listener in, if only given the chance. When the opportunity to interview a band as talented as this presented itself, it was one that couldn’t be missed…
Transcending Obscurity (Nigel Holloway): Introduce us to EchO!
Echo: Sure! The band was founded in late 2007 and became active in 2008, we released our first album ‘Devoid of Illusions’ in 2011 and we are now fresh from the release of our second record ‘Head First Into Shadows’.
Our roots are in the doom metal scene for sure, but we always wanted to have our own sound and personality, and this brought us to more psychedelic and melodic sounds than the ones that doom metal is usually known for.
TO: What are your influences?
Echo: We are six different people with many different personal and musical influences that variate from extreme metal to 60s and 70s rock, passing thru ambient and post rock, post metal, even blues and jazz at a time. Naming bands would take forever, because we all listen to very different music.
TO: Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Echo: Katatonia – ‘The Fall of Earths’
If These Trees Would Talk – ‘The Bones of a Dying World’
Plateau Sigma – ‘Rituals’
Leprous – ‘The Congregation’
Baroness – ‘Purple’
TO: Please tell us about your latest release.
Echo: It’s been a very difficult release for us. Production took almost three years to be done and we had a line up change (we replaced our singer) in the doing of it.
We are really satisfied with the result and we really hope the public will like it as well.
We’re also glad to have on board Daniel from Ahab and Jani from Callisto as guest vocalists, they really added a little magic to our songs, and we can’t thank them enough for that, and we also had the pleasure to work again with Greg Chandler, even if just for the mastering process.
TO: ‘Head First into Shadows’ is your second album – how do you think it stands up against your earlier work?
Echo: Musically speaking this record is probably less heavy and more focused on the atmospheres than our previous material.
I think it’s a good evolution from our starting point. It may not be as heavy as our debut was, but this is a direction we took very spontaneously, and this is what makes it special for us, is the music we wanted to do, with its differences from what we did before, but without “betraying” our roots; it’s more proggy and more psychedelic than our debut and also the lyrics are different, while they were more epic and dark before they are more focused on the human point of view and our personal emotions, even our own dreams in some cases.
TO: Tell us about the cover artwork – how important do you think this is to the average listener?
Echo: The artwork for our new album was made by artist/photographer Lorenzo Caggioli and is a brilliant use of real pictures of ink dropping into water, some of us have known Lorenzo for a very long time and it was really nice to work with him, he came up with very good and fresh ideas.
I think the artwork needs to be eye-catching, but, as music, it all depends on the taste of the listener/viewer, I personally never bought a record based on the artwork, but I always appreciate bands that put effort in having a good artwork too.
TO: How are your songs written?
Echo: It depends, sometimes we work all together in our rehearsal room, this brought great results in the past but is also very time consuming, some songs took months before they reached their final form; in other cases one or more members came up with an idea already recorded from start to finish, taught it to the rest of the band and then we finished the arrangements together or maybe changed our own parts, this also work very well, also helps you to let the other understand where you want to go with a song, if you are the main writer for that song.
TO: How did the guest collaborations happen?
Echo: The process was actually pretty easy, we just asked them if they were interested and they were! We picked the songs that we thought may suit them better, we wrote the lyrics for Daniel and he wrote his own vocal line, while Jani wrote both his vocal line and lyrics. It’s a true honour to have on board such amazing singers and artists, that we’ve been big fans of for many years!
TO: The album is full of emotive leads, were these an important consideration of yours when looking to build atmosphere across the tracks?
Echo: Absolutely. We always write music (and lyrics) to express ourselves and our emotions, and the entire record is based on that.
I think the atmospheres you hear in the songs are a direct consequence of our inner selves expressing how we feel through music, and this is also the main reason we started to write music in the first pace, as individuals, and as a band.
TO: How do you think your music will progress in the future?
Echo: Honestly it’s hard to say, recently we changed guitars/bass tuning and this might bring us to new solutions and territories, we are working on a few songs and we’re really happy with how they’re coming together, but still can’t say how the next album will sound.
TO: What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Echo: Tough choice, different songs are important to me/us for direct reasons, but from a listener point of view, if I had to pick one it would probably be Gone, because I think is one of the most inspired songs we’ve ever written, the different parts really work well together in my opinion, and the guest by Jani gives me goose-bumps every time I listen to it.
TO: What are the next steps for your band?
Echo: We are now booking shows for the fall, trying to play anywhere it’s possible.
Meanwhile we’re also working on new material for a new album.