One of the genuinely endearing character traits of instrumental metal is how it allows you to imprint your own themes and emotional resonance onto each piece of music. There is a speculative and lucid joy in this practice, which is perhaps why most of the bands who specialise in this genre make dreamily jubilant music, full of optimism and untethered expectation. Eschar, a Surrey (UK) based 4 piece follow the flow of this tide to its ebb.
Nova is their second LP and it is a smooth and cohesive collection of progressive odysseys. And with songs varying in length from 6 to 10 minutes, I do not employ the Homeric reference without due cause. But, even if you are usually fearful of the extended song format, you need not allow this phobia to prevent you from exploring what Eschar have to offer. Through a combination of tenaciousness and an almost poppy sense of structure, they manage to make even their most epic of songs appear light and flippantly enjoyable. Perhaps it is their tendency to lean towards a grandiose anthemic style that fills their music with such a buoyant sense of self.
Unlike a lot of their contemporaries Eschar have not packed their music full of mediocre riffs. They have been judicious in their use of time since their previous album; stockpiling a modest but highly effective collection of memorable melodies. That they infuse these riffs with an escalating sense of drama is key to their succulent effectiveness. This bombastic drama adds a malleable surface to the music, which while still allowing emotional applicability also transports the listener on a very specific journey; at the purpose domination of the band.
This is what I imagine Scale The Summit would sound like if they had emotions, as opposed to just having read about them. Mix in a flourish of Mogwai-esque minor key melancholy and a dash of binary Djent and you have a functional description of Nova.
Overall this EP is full of promise and prescience; with enough jubilant fizz to render even the more extended passages compelling. It doesn't break any new ground or contain anything experienced ears would find surprising. But what it does have is a resolutely consistent sense of empathy; a soulful way of communing emotionally with its target audience, lifting it away from the reductive self-indulgence which has long been the downfall of instrumental groups.
In short, this album won't change your life. But it might well improve it.
– John Whitmore