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There’s no doubt that with their first full-length album, alternative rock act Gone Is Gone are looking to shake off that pesky ‘supergroup’ tag and emerge fully formed as their own beastly, musical enterprise.
With a roster of musicians as talented as bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders of Mastodon, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age and Failure, drummer Tony Hajjar of newly reunited post-hardcore act At the Drive-In, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin, creating something unique and interesting with their 60 plus years of combined musical experience should be borderline effortless at this point. Which is ultimately what makes ‘Echolocation’ such a raw disappointment. Across 12 tracks, Gone Is Gone mine every alternative rock trope and refuse to come up empty, with plenty of bland songwriting, boring vocal performances and leisurely riffs. Even when keeping expectations low (I mean, nobody was asking them to churn out bangers like ‘Caparillian Crest’, ‘No One Knows’ or ‘One Armed Scissor), the amount of lukewarm effort on display with ‘Echolocation’ is near baffling.
‘Sentient’, ‘Gift’ and ‘Resurge’ start this album off with almost 15 minutes worth of mid-tempo, alt-rock that sounds distinctly like background, elevator music. ‘Gift’ does feature a curious, albeit simplistic, riff courtesy of Van Leeuwen, but it isn’t until ‘Ornament’ arrives that we get even a fraction of the energy and spirit that this supergroup should be able to conjure up. However, the record slows down drastically during ‘Dublin’, a track which features some tribal drumming and haunting atmospherics, managing to recall the lofty heights of Cave-In’s back catalogue.
The screeching guitar and rumbling tones from Sanders in ‘Pawns’ are a brief and welcome sonic detour, even if by the time that the chorus hits, it becomes all too hard to shake that ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’ déjà vu. And it’s during moments like ‘Colourfade’, the acoustic ballad ‘Resolve’ and the album’s title track, where it becomes painfully obvious as to just how under-utilised Hajjar’s immense drumming talents are within the scope of Gone Is Gone. Although, when the group decides to throw caution to the wind and pull together something from outside of their collective wheelhouses, we end up with tracks that are almost unique and vaguely interesting. Zarin really makes his presence felt on ‘Roads’, an eerie, Nine Inch Nails collage of slow beats and softly-spoken whispers. While the duo of ‘Slow Awakening’ and ‘Fast Awakening’ offer up some engaging, 80’s post-punk vocal theatrics, zany guitar solos and pounding, double-kick bridge sections.
Is ‘Echolocation’ exceptional and engaging? Nope Is Nope. If the most positive attribute that can be ascribed to a rock supergroups’s debut-album is that it’s ‘merely competent,’ then we’re already in serious trouble. Frankly, there isn’t anything on offer here from Gone Is Gone that we haven’t already heard a thousand times before from their respective day-jobs, delivered with greater conviction, gumption and zeal. If you’re looking for inventive riffage, mind-bending transitions and stacked vocal dynamics, ‘Blood Mountain’ is well worth seeking out. If you’re desperately craving smooth guitar lines and hypnotic grooves, then ‘Songs For The Deaf’ should already be your jam. If you desire manic tempos and daring, percussive propulsion, chuck on ‘In/Casino/Out’ and rage accordingly. Much like the process evoked by its namesake, ‘Echolocation’ exists comfortably within a dark space, despite having a total lack of vision.
“Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.”
- Slow Awakening
- Fast Awakening
‘Echolocation’ is out now through Rise Records. And yeah, it’s…okay.