January 12, 2014 by Dan Swinhoe
Mandroid Echostar – Citadels EP
Bandcamp is great. I’d go so far to say that if more of the big boys were on it, there’d be no reason to use Spotify. As it is, however, its best use is to find new, underground bands, and one of the best you’ll find is Canadian band Mandroid Echostar and their Citadels EP.
This is the second self-released second EP from the Guelph, Ontario-based group, and was funded through crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo. Although released late into the year, Citadels was one of the highlights of 2013, combining a quality vocalist, accessible melodic prog with power metal solos and almost djent heaviness at times.
The EP opens with the short acoustic piece ‘A Death Marked Dream’ before a guitar slide takes into the first song proper, ‘Ancient Arrows’. Solos come in thick and fast from the triple guitar line-up of Stephen Richards, Sam Pattison and James Krul, as do the squealing pinches. Even though not even five minutes long, there’s umpteen time changes, and the vocals ooze quality, oozing with passion and soaring when the music calls for it.
The Coheed & Cambria similarities that most other reviews mention are hard to avoid; Michael Ciccia’s vocal range and style occupy similar ground as Coheed’s Claudio Sanchez. But on the evidence of the EP, Mandroid have the potential to be far better. There’s less pop and concept-heavy pretence and more riffs, more solos, more urgency about all of the songs.
The title tracks flows between djent-esque chugging to mid-paced melody before another more epic solo interject, while ‘The Sleeper’ is probably the EP highlight and best surmises what the band are about. Heavy Djent-style riffs make way for machine gun solos and Ciccia’s massive singalong choruses before we given multiple time changes and more fretboard wizardry – about as close as you can come to a four-minute prog epic.
Citadels is a great release. An adventurous EP that melds melody with biting riffs throughout. The seven tracks on offer race by quicker than 29 minute runtime suggests thanks to the many time and style changes on offer. If you’re looking for a new band to get you through January, make it these guys.