Surface of Eceon

The King Beneath the Mountain

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Combining two of the best turn-of-the-century post-rock (and post-gaze, to coin a term) bands from America would seem a good way to go about a band project, as The King Beneath the Mountain easily proves. With all of Landing bar Adrienne Snow joining up with Adam Forkner and Phil Jenkins from Yume Bitsu, the result is gripping, dramatic rock that will sound like manna from heaven for those who worship at the shrines of effects pedals. The opening track alone, "The Open Sea," will bring tears to the eyes of anyone who loved early Slowdive; whichever one of the guitarists is performing the liquid, sky-soaring solo that defines the heart of the track has it on the money, it's that heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The steady build and blast of the band as a whole behind that is equally dramatic, and from there on Surface of Eceon can do no wrong. Another song that pushes the same buttons is "Deep Grey Night"; when the singing comes in -- soft but prominent against ever-stronger drumming and more swirling, soul-gripping guitars than seems possible -- it's an awesome joy. There are moments courtesy of the Yume Bitsu side when everyone just fires up and takes off, the echoed sheen of the whole album charged up with a dramatic new energy, as the fast and furious yet still gauzily dreamlike "The Grasshopper King" demonstrates. Quick enough to be thrash metal but constructed and arranged in a cascade of darkly beautiful waves of surging feedback, it's another hands-down highlight. "Council of the Locusts" raises a pretty detailed ruckus as well, while the concluding "Ascension to the Second Tier of the Outer Plane of Dryystn (Ecyeon)" sends the album out on a subtly triumphant, glorious note, rising and rising into a glowing climax.

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