Echovalve have been kicking around the Atlanta scene for quite a few years, but only now have they finally gotten round to recording and releasing their debut album. For all the accolades they've garnered since their formation, the bandmembers themselves have been through some pretty rough times, and it shows on Helloagaingoodbye. This is a cathartic set, where Echovalve confront the demons of their past -- the alcoholism and drug addiction that led to emotional turmoil, broken relationships, and even homelessness -- situations that color all the set's songs. The lyrics are brutally honest, baring the devastation the group wrought on itself. On numbers like "Si Quieres," "Dirty Little Secret," "High Again," and "On My Own," their searing pain is palpable, as Echovalve fall fighting into the arms of addiction and flay themselves for their own weakness. On the delicate "Anyone" they cry out desperately for help, then like the masochists they are, push away their loved one on the defiant "On My Own" and irate "Stand Down," before raging in anguish on "You Don't Want Me Anymore." This kaleidoscope of conflicting emotions and counterproductive behaviors is part and parcel of addiction, and having been there, Echovalve eloquently express the confusion and hurt they both suffered and caused. Owning up is the first step toward recovery, itself a cathartic act; what's missing is the understanding of how they reached these lows, and any need to make amends. But this album isn't a 12-step program; it's the bandmembers' own attempt to deal squarely with their past. The strength of their music equals the power of their words, a febrile mix of classic hard rock and neo-grunge (Soundgarden and Pearl Jam are obvious influences). With strong melodies wrapped around superb playing, Helloagaingoodbye makes for an unforgettable set of music and emotion.
by Jo-Ann Greene