Anyway, UFO's have become quite common knowledge. With plenty of sightings, some explained but many unexplained, loads of theories about the whole alien-thing have appeared throughout the ages. UFO's have also found their way into the music scene, functioning as themes in songs from all genres. The latest UFO-related album is 'Echo Cosmic' by Canadian one-man project Pyramids On Mars. His real name is Kevin Estrella and he is a pretty talented multi-instrumentalist.
At least, that is what he shows on this album. Guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, programming... everything is done by one man. It must have taken years to write and record this album. But the result is amazing, a lively blend of hard rock and progressive metal, influenced by guitar deities like Malmsteen, Vai, Satriani but just as much by bands like Meshuggah, Pink Floyd, Metallica and Dream Theater. Furthermore, he mentions classic composers like Bach and Vivaldi in his list of influences. That list should get any prog metal fan drooling.
So yes, 'Echo Cosmic' is a progressive guitar album, loaded with flashing solos, mainly in a pretty uptempo fashion, like in the fierce 'Death Valley Driver'. The song structures are quite complicated and incorporate a lot of variation. Opener 'Dream Division' actually starts out pretty post-rocky but quickly comes up with the overjoyed guitars and rock 'n roll breathing drums. And that's the whole surprise about this album. Usually an 'instrumental progressive rock and metal album' turns into post-rock but that's absolutely not the case here.
'Tribute' suddenly reminds me of some old Bowie songs, be it without Bowie singing. The melody sounds quite familiar, as if it really is a tribute to some classic guitar albums. 'Heaven's Gate' too has that old rock atmosphere which many Deep Purple or Rainbow fans will obviously appreciate. This way, Pyramids On Mars constantly shifts between several guitar-worshipping musical styles and he does it with a lot of flair and a lot of energy. In the dark 'Order of the Freemasons', he adds a touch of dark ambient, much to my enjoyment actually. 'Ocean's Razor' seems to have a death metal element as well.
If you read the list of bands, artists and composers I mentioned in this review, you should have a clear image of what this album sounds like. There's really little else to say about it. Everyone who attentively listens to, and watches, Malmsteen or Dream Theater, should get his hands on a copy of this album. However, if you're weary of guitar solos, this music will probably stress you out. Fact remains, we're dealing with someone talented and experienced and not afraid to take things a little further once in a while. 'Echo Cosmic' is a great trip through the immense and ever-expanding universe of guitar music.