With their European tour just having started, what better way to get you hyped for the live action than reviewing one of Esprit D’Air their latest albums? And hyped we certainly got with their award-winning album Constellations. It combines several tracks from previous singles and EP’s as well as introduces a few new tracks. In 2018 the album received the award of best hard-core/metal album of the year at The Independent Music Awards in New York, judged by members of Slayer, Sepultura and Evanescence. And without a doubt, it lives up to its expectations.
03. Guiding Light
04. The Hunter
06. The Awakening
Right of the bat, the first track blows you into another dimension. Within the first seconds of Ignition, the combination of harsh power chords from the string instruments combined with powerful beats of the drums draws you in and doesn’t let you go. The vocals in this track make it feel a little smoother, yet still, you can feel the beat pump through the speakers right into your ears. The song really achieves to get you sucked in and thrown around again, with dreamlike cooldowns followed by the loud blasts of the instrumentals.
The next track feels rather surreal. Rebirth a lot softer than the previous one and makes more use of melodic support and the clean vocals to create a trance-like effect. Even so, there are enough powerful riffs and breaks to create a strong link between the rest of the album. It’s a pretty experimental track that will have you wonder why it ever ended when the last note drops.
Guiding Light lures you into thinking the album will stay on the smoother dreamy path that Rebirth created, yet there is more to it than just the first notes will let you believe there would be. After guitars pulled you out of the illusion it soon cools down again into a more upbeat and sweet sound, with Kai guiding you through it with his smooth and gentle voice. The song stays on the same tone until the last second, and almost ends too soon to fully enjoy. I’d have loved a few more seconds for sure!
And those few more seconds would’ve been perfect to prepare for what follows. The Hunter roughly wakes you up from the dream that had been created by the previous two tracks, pushing you into a harsher reality. The song is amazingly catchy, and the motif of the instrumentals leave you on the edge of your seat. An impressive piece of music where all musicians show their worth to the max. The drums feel like they go full out with what seems like complicated partitions to which the guitars and bass seamlessly fuse with. To keep the continuity of the dream sequences throughout the album, this track also has a softer part that seems to twist the reality in a sweet daydream, but even that is just but an illusion to be broken again just like the beginning of this track showed. And as the longest track of the album, it certainly lives up to every second. Definitely, my favourite and I think just one word would do this justice: Eargasm.
At this point the song that feels most out of place amongst the others is Starstorm. Not to say it’s bad, but it has a rough time fitting in with the overall feel the first half has created. This track is more upbeat and straight to the point. There is still the element of an atmosphere created by the sound of the instrumentals, yet I didn’t feel sucked in like the rest did to me. It was a nice breather though and a track I feel would fit nicely with a bigger audience as it’s more pop than the progressive stuff they’ve shown before. Overall a sweet little track.
The Awakening is just that. The music wakes us up from wherever it was they’ve led us to before. The music is clean and straightforward, not putting us astray anymore. For the first moment of this album, I’ve truly felt back on the ground again. It’s loud, lovely, catchy and most of all pure fun to listen to. There’s not a second of this track I remember sitting still. I just had to move, either my legs, or simple head bobs. I just couldn’t sit still, and it brought a genuine smile to my face. If only it lasted longer.
And then we got to Reminisce. Gosh, did I think I was finally back on my feet, but yet again as the first soothing sounds came through my earphones I was drifting away. Almost as if on a boat sailing away on smooth waves across a silent river. The higher long notes Kai uses to sing managed to put me in a trance and left me speechless, not even moving a single muscle. The music is soothing and relaxing at best, leaving a bitter taste of sorrow around the edge of each note. There are hardly words to describe this one, all I can say is listen to it and close your eyes, and let your mind wander across the calm soundwaves.
Then from the water into the waterfall. Versus enters like an anime opening with a punch. It threw me off guard for a second, trying to wonder if I were still listening to the same album I was before. As ending track, I think it kind of broke the vibe of what I experienced before, which was a shame. But seen as separate track it was nice. The music gave me the feeling of warmth and if I tried to put my mind to it like I did with the previous tracks, I could almost imagine a nice spring day full of joy.
Overall this album was one big experience with lots of progressive elements that I loved to explore. And even though some tracks felt out of place, the album never felt off. And I can’t blame them for it either. There can’t be experimentation without some odd ones out. And even still they managed to fit all together well enough, deserving the fitting title Constellations. For those about to try this one out, be prepared for a ride.