Album: Letters From A Lost Soul | Act I: The World One Forms
Release Date: 06/11/2020
Digital Price: $4 CAD ($3.14 USD)
Length: 21min, 57s
To put it in the plainest language I can, I listened to this EP a hell of a lot before finally reviewing it. In fact, I listened to it so much that I didn’t review it nearly as soon as I meant to, which is a shame because it’s definitely something that you should listen to.
Arcana is a newly formed Canadian band based in Calgary. Their debut EP, Letters From A Lost Soul | Act I: The World One Forms is part of what is to be a series of releases following a concept. This is the first chapter of a love story, telling the story of a man named Damian trying to fix his life and relationships with his family after a tragedy, dealing with personal troubles along the way.
In terms of the band, Letters From A Lost Soul features Rogan McAndrews on guitars, bass, synth, and male vocals. Deyson Thiara played drums and Anna Draper recorded the female vocals. All members of the band do a good job on this EP, and if this is a preview for a future album, then we’re in for a treat. Vocally I quite liked the variety displayed by McAndrews and Draper. Only two of the four tracks on this EP actually have vocals, but across them there are several styles on show.
This is because of the way the songs are structured. Each song is divided up between several characters, giving the EP a rock opera style format that the band themselves have noted was their intention, and they have certainly achieved it. Each character is identifiable, but not only that – their mood and emotional state at the time is distinct and immediately identifiable. That definitely benefits this EP.
McAndrews’ variously does conventional clean vocals, as well as black metal inspired screams that not only give emotional weight to the story with their timing, but contrast with Draper’s own performance which is quite good. There aren’t a lot of progressive metal bands that combine male and female vocals in this way, and I think Arcana serve as a good blueprint that others could look to for inspiration. Another thing I’d like to highlight in particular is McAndrews’ performance in the final track on the EP, Octosun/Wings (Reprised). McAndrews delivers to us yet another great vocal performance, but this time it reminds me of a distinctly medieval, troubadour kind of sound, that almost ventures into a vaguely Gregorian chant sort of feel at times. McAndrews and Draper do a great job here, and I’m hoping that an eventual album will feature the vocal variety that we get from Letters From A Lost Soul.
Instrumentally, each track is unique and sounds like its own little dimension. That is not necessarily a good thing because a band can run the risk of an album sounding a little ‘all over the place’ or slapped together. But when linked together by vocals, lyrics, and themes, it can paint an overall picture that works, and that’s exactly what Arcana have done here.
The title track Letters From A Lost Soul is essentially an orchestral style, short opener that leads you into what is to come. This is followed by the absolutely excellent track Wings, which gives me strong Rush vibes, and is best described as what a close friend of mine would call a ‘journey’ – a track that captures your imagination and draws you in. It has a sort of Octavarium vibe in the sense that if you listen closely, there’s aspects of this song that link to all the other tracks on the EP. I love that sort of thing! Wings stands out on this EP, but then again so do the other tracks: Each representing a part of the greater whole, giving the EP emotional depth and variety.
It also is simply great for repeated listening, giving you something new every time – it has that rare quality that gives me something new every time I listen to it, no matter how many times I do. Not only that but for a progressive metal concept release, it isn’t so proggy or confronting with its instrumentality or concept to intimidate casual listeners, or those who don’t listen to much progressive metal.
I highly recommend you listen to this EP. It’s an excellent listen, and it’s a taste of what is surely to be some excellent work to come from Arcana. And it comes at a low, low cost so if you like it, please consider buying it to help the band!
I hope you enjoy Letters From A Lost Soul | Act I: The World One Forms.
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