I was surprised to read that Shades Apart’s ‘Eternal Echo’ was their first album in nineteen years. It’s not because I’m a huge fan because, if I’m being frank, I had never heard of Shades Apart prior to getting the email blast regarding this new album, I was more surprised because, after taking a nearly twenty-year break, how do you just go back in the studio and make a new album. Knowing nothing about this band, I have nothing to compare as far as this new music to their old music but I did know that I was either going to get a tried and true sound that has stood the test of time and evolved with the years or a washed up sound that I could really have done without. Let’s hit play and see what happens!
“So What Now” kicks off this ten-song album with a sense of power that comes off as in your face but not aggressive. It commands your attention and I was all ears as this song played through. The first band that came to mind when listening to this opening track is Unwritten Law. There’s just something in the vocals and instrumentation that felt tried and true and almost an ode to the 90’s but my worry of Shades Apart having a sound that is washed up and over-done is already gone and we are only on the first song. As this song played through, I couldn’t help but wonder what rock I’ve been living under that I’ve never heard of these guys before.
Second up is “Only Light” which stayed the course of “So What Now”. Although the songs almost blended together, it was clear that it was a new song. I almost wanted to stop everything and go back to their old material to see how different this is but that would be cheating. You all know by now that what you are reading are my first thoughts on something (hence the word vomit and scattered thoughts at times) and I feel like switching that up for this review would be cheating you. So all I can do is sit here and let the music take me wherever it may take me. “Only Light” had me on the Pacific Coast Highway with the wind in my hair and the sea-salt air whipping at my face. What I’m saying is that, for a night where there are inches of day-old snow on the ground just outside my front door, this was the perfect song to get lost in.
Things slow down for “Dark Valley Lake”. Although the song is clearly that of Shades Apart due to the distinctive vocals, the mood completely shifted to something more somber and a bit more sensitive. I love how, even though the mood shifted, the sense of power doesn’t falter. That anthemic power stays true for “Teach Me”. Although there’s something very familiar about this track, I just can’t put my finger on it. All I know is this is a track that I could easily hear at an arena show or on the radio. Sure, it feels a little nostalgic and dramatic like a song from the ’90s but there’s still something fresh and modern about it that keeps it from falling into that “washed up sound” trap that I was so worried about.
“Thread” was an instant favorite of mine. There’s something a bit more in your face about this track that instantly reminded me of bands like Eve 6 that had an actually amazing sound but got stuffed in that “90’s alternative” bottle. I couldn’t help but stomp my foot to the infectious beat of this song and even play my famed air guitar during some of the quick guitar features throughout this track. I was almost bummed as the album moved onto “95” but then I got over it as a catching bassline came in and took over my speakers. Although this song felt a bit aged to me, I loved it. It’s fun, carefree, and the kind of song that I could absolutely see being played in the background at a party as people pause and ask “Wait, what band is this? I kind of like this!”.
There’s something a little dark and deep about “Counting Down”. I hate to use this comparison because, well, if you know me, you’ll know why, but this song had a very Breaking Benjamin sound if Breaking Benjamin had hit their stride in the ’90s. The darkness and moodiness of “Counting Down” are quickly replaced by the more carefree sound that Shades Apart is so good at doing as the album moved onto “Aurora”. Another track, another bassline that is sure to be stuck in my head for days. I rarely ever notice the bass when listening to music because I am such a lyrics person but Shades Apart is making me remember just how important the bass is with each track that plays. “Aurora” is a triumphant track that, because of the bassline, I really just got lost in and I almost didn’t catch the transition into “Souls and Soldiers”.
“Souls and Soldiers” brings back that darkness of “Counting down” but takes it into a little bit more of an upbeat moodiness with an earworm chorus. Although this track was not my favorite lyrically, it definitely put up a fight of becoming a favorite track of mine just due to the instrumentation. Something about this song had me hooked between the bassline, the sweeping guitar solo, and the anthemic drums. Although it didn’t quite make the cut, “Dark Side of Life” did because, as soon as the song started, all I could think of was the band Lit. I’m not going to say that this track sounds like Lit, but there was just something about it that made me think of one of my favorite 90’s bands of all time. That being said– I’m going to stand behind what I said earlier– Shades Apart doesn’t fall into that genre of “washed up bands that should have hung it up years ago”. Although I feel like I keep relating them to 90’s bands and sounds, there’s something very fresh and new about the songs in ‘Eternal Echo’ that will keep these guys in my daily rotation for the foreseeable future.
This album was going to go one of two ways. Way number one was being stuck to the way things were twenty years ago and having an old and outdated sound. Way number two was taking the sound from twenty years ago and spinning it to fit today. I was worried I was going to get way number one but was so relieved and happy to hear that I got way to number two. If you’re like me and still find yourself putting on playlists that consist of Everclear, Lit, Eve 6, etc., I truly suggest adding Shades Apart to your list. They will fit into those nostalgic playlists perfectly while bringing a fresh sound to your playlist!
My Favorite Track(s): “Only Light”; “Thread”; “Dark Side of Life”
For Fans Of: Anthemic Rock; 90’s Music; Smiling and Toe-Tapping
Daydream-ability: 6 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid on my desk; Autumn sat on the arm of the couch closest to me
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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