Echidna – Dawn of the Sociopath

When you listen to as much music as I do, it all seems to run together after a while. It’s one of the reasons so many music reviewers come across as dismissive and generally unpleasant toward most music. In order to keep myself from falling into this trap, I constantly drive a needle of adrenaline directly into my heart. Not only am I able to finish some crap band’s garage demo, but I can lap my neighborhood 15 times.

Well, the gods of metal shined down on me when I got Echidna’s latest release, Dawn of the Sociopath, an album entirely about my life. Not only did I not have to jam a needle into my chest, but I have a new soundtrack. Win-win!

This is the Portuguese Echidna, not to be confused with the very excellent Greek Echidna nor the Brazilian black metal band. Both the Greek and Portuguese bands produce ear-tickling fabulous death metal and I highly recommend you dig into them (the Brazilian band, not so much). However, this is a review about the Echidna from Portugal, a place too beautiful to have so much rage vented into such epic death metal. Yet Dawn of the Sociopath grabs you by the throat and shakes you like a predator killing prey.

The first track, “Synaptic Entropy”, is just a filler intro, but the second, “The Antagonist”, is really the opener and represents the whole album well. After a dozen or so spins I can write: (1) Echidna are highly skilled technically and write complex, interesting songs; (2) This album is a huge leap forward from their previous excellent release, Insidious Awakening; (3) Echidna prove that bands can use djent and polyrhythms without becoming a total substandard sub-genre band; (4) Echidna kick my ass.

The point I just made about polyrhythms applies especially to “Obscuring My Reason”, which sounds very much like something Meshuggah dreamed up. This is a fair comparison because this track isn’t the kind of slappy djent popping up in the metalcore scene. It’s a serious song that incorporates many other elements making it larger than life. “Obscuring My Reason” is my favorite track on this album. I find myself cranking it until my ears beg for mercy.

Other noteworthy tracks include the title track, “Dawn of the Sociopath”, which is my new theme song. This track is both fiercely intense and technical with a lot of dissonance and fun chugging chord progressions. “The Fallout” evokes a feeling of imminent doom and despair heightened by a floating repetitive riff that makes you feel a sense of urgency as you listen. Nice work.

My only criticism of the album is that the intro, “Synaptic Entropy”, and two other tracks “Ágon” and “Catharsis” are ambient filler tracks. “Catharsis” also includes a spoken word monologue. It’s all fine and good the band wants to create a surreal and desperate feeling to the album, but three tracks like this do seem to soften the impact of the brutality conjured up by the rest of the album. Maybe if one of those tracks was substituted for another killer song like “Commanded By Demons” then I wouldn’t feel the album slows down too much. But that’s really a nitpick because overall the album destroys the current mediocrity we all hear in much of today’s metal.

So now I know you’re going to buy this album. I also recommend you fork over some more cash for their previous album, Insidious Awakening, as well as their debut, Tearing the Cloth. The progression over the course of these releases is astonishing. Echidna (of Portugal, remember) have outdone themselves and I can’t wait to see what they do in the future.

Dawn of the Sociopath