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EP Review: Aquarius “Equinox”

Creating a balance between the light and the darkness is essential to making any record work no matter the genre, but in the case of the new extended play Equinox from Aquarius, I think it’s all the more critical to producing as enjoyable a final product as possible. Although there’s an argument to be made that physicality is the real star of songs like “Enemies I Called My Brothers” and “Coming Home,” neither are without lush melodicism. Contrary to what some critics will tell you, it is possible to make something multidimensional without sounding over the top or theatrical, and Aquarius proves as much here.

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Big guitars eventually dominate the narrative in “Gone Away” and “God,” but I think this is perfectly acceptable when you consider just how much they’re contributing to the big picture in Equinox overall. There’s something profound about a melodic instrument speaking to the backend of a mix with as gruff a voice as it has in this EP and specifically the two songs I just noted, and I would even say that it rivals the lead singer in terms of expressiveness – and definitive control over how we’re made to interpret the longer story of this record.’

The arrangement of the instruments in “Gone Away” and “Enemies I Called My Brothers” has a very sophisticated feel, and yet I’m pressed to say that the execution these players demonstrate has almost a blue-collar feel to it that tethers their sound to underground metal far more than it does the post-rock movement. There’s a lot of Pelican sewn into this band’s bones, but they’re not as intrigued by the notion of instrumental excess as they are creating something gothic on the other side of a lyric rather than within it. That’s quite unique, and honestly reason enough to take a look at their artistry.

You’ve really got to wonder, listening to a record like Equinox, just how much heat Aquarius could bring on the live stage, as songs like “Coming Home” suggest an open-ended potential for improvisation almost too tempting not to exploit at one point or another. If even a fraction of the presence they’ve got here translates in a live performance I think they’ll have no trouble going from indie to mainstream sooner than some might expect, and this EP was designed to give us a little taste of what their future experiments could hold on either side of the glass.

Equinox is a great record and a fantastic introduction to what could be one of the more provocative projects of its kind growing out of the heavy rock underground right now, and while they’ve got a long way to go before they can consider themselves on pace with the surreal rock artists largely trending out of both coastlines on an international level, I think this is the right start to the band’s campaign. Aquarius might not be the most elaborate rock outfit doing what they’re doing in this extended play at the moment, but they’re certainly one of the most likable I’ve heard lately.

Loren Sperry

 

 

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