Chapel Of Disease - Echoes Of Light

Artist: Chapel Of Disease

Album Title: Echoes Of Light

Label: Van Records

Date of Release: 9 February 2024

I’m only reviewing this album because of one of those strange quirks of fate. On one of my infamous late-night voyages of discovery was sent down a different than expected path as I was too slow to cue up the next song. Instead of heading off in a planned direction, ‘A Death Through No Loss’ courtesy of Chapel Of Disease kicked in and the rest, as they say, is history.

A frantic, highly charged intro builds and then gives way to a thoroughly delicious NWOBHM-style melodic guitar lick, and I find it impossible to draw myself away from the song that’s unexpectedly flowing out of my headphones. The urgency of the attack, alongside the galloping rhythms and catchy guitar melodies is a winning combination as far as I’m concerned. I keep the song playing and suddenly it changes tack and I’m presented with a 70s-style prog rock workout. Spacey and chilled, but with a strong beat and a slowly increased intensity, it culminates in a wailing, exuberant and playful lead guitar solo. The mix of unabashed melodic excess and gruff vocals that ensues is, as far as I’m concerned, a masterstroke and by the time the eight-minute song subsides, I’m convinced that I need to explore this album more closely.

Upon closer inspection, the album in question is entitled ‘Echoes Of Light’ and is the fourth studio release from German entity Chapel Of Disease. It turns out that the band began life in 2008 as an out-and-out death metal band but, over the years have seen their output tempered to the point where it is now a far cry from those extreme metal days. Yes, there are still a few blast beats to be heard, alongside some growls, but they are not at the extreme end of the metal spectrum anymore, at least not by the evidence presented on ‘Echoes Of Light’.

Instead, the material presented on ‘Echoes Of Light’ lends itself more to that 70s, proggy end of the spectrum, with a few hints of a more extreme side just nestling below the surface or, in some cases, out of sight completely. This is a band that has, to all intents and purposes been re-invented based on what I can hear and research about their back catalogue.

From the very beginning via the opening title track, there’s a willingness to create huge atmospheres within a melodic progressive rock framework. The track moves around dextrously, with the bass guitar particularly prominent within the mix. When the growled vocals enter, it’s almost a bit of a shock as they don’t immediately fit the more relaxed musical output where the guitar riffs are warm and organic, the lead embellishments are melodically charged, and towards the end, we end up in minimalist, almost ambient territory.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I do feel that the accidental track that first brought me to ‘Echoes Of Light’, namely ‘A Death Though No Loss’, is the album’s high water mark. And that’s a bit of a shame because that song grabbed me and pulled me in, demonstrating the talent and abilities of Chapel Of Disease in abundance. But, a little disappointingly, nothing else hits the mark quite as strongly as far as I’m concerned.

There’s a much more pronounced classic rock ‘n’ roll feel to ‘Selenophile’, an approach that’s perfectly fine and dandy but which doesn’t hit me hard, as much as the effervescent lead guitar solos try. It’s a catchy composition, but ultimately, I’m not a fan as much as I want to be.

By contrast, ‘Gold / Dust’ is full-on spacey and noodly old-school progressive rock territory where even the gruff vocals are abandoned, alongside any lingering pretence that Chapel Of Disease are in any way still an extreme band. The central lead riff/lick is really catchy, whilst the final lead solo atop a galloping beat is a thing of deliciously exuberant and melodic beauty.

Unfortunately, for my tastes, the final song (for there are but six here) ‘An Ode To The Conqueror’ is a bit of something or nothing. It’s full of lush organic and warm sounds, gentle atmospheres, and consummate instrumentalism. But it lacks a killer instinct and, for that matter, a killer hook or melody to carry the album triumphantly to a conclusion. It’s nice enough, but it runs out of steam, ending the record with a bit of a whimper.

I end my time with ‘Echoes Of Light’ feeling both confused and frustrated, not to mention a touch disappointed. The one song that hits a home run promises so much, but the remaining five either fall a little short, or don’t hit the mark with me at all. I’m not entirely sure, either, that Chapel Of Disease know what they wanted to achieve here. For much of the record, they seem reticent to want to let go of their more extreme metal roots, persisting with the gruff vocals even if the music doesn’t really warrant it. But at a certain point, they seem to collectively declare ‘who are we kidding?’ and revert in the process to clean, moody singing. I’ve heard an awful lot worse than ‘Echoes Of Light’ in 2024 but by the same token, I’ve heard a lot better, too. Progressive rock fans who don’t mind the growls might find a lot more to like here but, in general, I’d recommend that you may want to look elsewhere for your musical fix.  

The Score of Much Metal: 71%



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