Ecstatic Vision- Sonic Praise

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ecstatic Vision may be a relatively newer band comprised of two ex-A Life Once Lost Member, but don’t go into their debut Sonic Praise expecting heavy metalcore riffs and harsh vocals. This new group has moved into completely different territory, channeling elements of space rock, heavy psych, and krautrock together into a seamless mixture. Doug Sabolick had hinted at some of these psych elements on A Life Once Lost’s final record Ecstatic Trance, but this new band is a full exploration of these styles. It’s the type of album that may take a few times through to fully get a feel for and demands your full attention to completely take in all of the different things that are happening, but the effort is definitely worth it and Sonic Praise captures a lot of what the older psych acts were able to without feeling like a mere retro retread.

There have been quite a few bands out there attempting to channel the sounds that a lot of great 60s and 70s rock groups captured so many years ago, but it has been hard for a lot of them to back it up with substance of their own. This is where Ecstatic Vision makes such a strong impression, as more and more layers reveal themselves to the listener with additional spins. Sonic Praise certainly pulls from some familiar territory, with older heavy psych and space rock circa Hawkwind serving as the pillar that all of the material builds off of. But there’s a lot more lurking beneath the surface, and it’s going to take multiple times through to get a handle on it. Where Ecstatic Vision moves beyond mere worship of these classic styles is in their seamless move between soaring psychedelic exploration and more riff focused rock ‘n roll, as they’re capable of sprawling out and completely exploring more spiritual sounding textures before heading right back into rawer grooves. It’s a great mixture, and some of the songs even add in some nuances like saxophone and tribal drumming that create extra layers for listeners to dive into. With that being said, the emphasis on sprawling psych melodies in between the heavier grooves did make this one take a little bit to click with me and I suspect it may be this way for some others out there as well. But once you’re through those initial few listens and ready to fully take in each song’s sonic exploration, there’s plenty to keep you coming back again and again.

Doug Sabolick may have been primarily focused on guitar work with A Life Once Lost, but he handles vocals along with guitar/organ for Ecstatic Vision. His gruffer singing range immediately separates the band from some of the other psych/space rock bands out there, adding a bit of a rougher edge to the melodic territory the instrumentals hover around. It’s a style that works well, as when the guitars switch over to hefty rock ‘n roll grooves Sabolick’s lower singing range towers over them to create a high energy sound, but he’s also able to perfectly blend into the softest moments. I’m not sure if he’s been in a lead vocal role like this before, but the performance here proves that Ecstatic Vision has a more than capable front man who brings a little bit of additional grit to the hazier instrumentation.

Compared to some of the other albums of this type, Sonic Praise took me a few times through to fully get a feel for and get pulled in by. But once everything clicked it hasn’t left my stereo since, as Ecstatic Vision’s ability to offer very spiritual, introspective psych/space rock melodies with some in your face heavy rock grooves gives them a slightly different vibe that feels much more genuine than others going for a “retro sound.” Give this one the time it needs to fully reveal all of the different elements at work and I think you’ll find yourself hooked as well, and given that this is only the group’s debut full length it seems like there is still plenty of uncharted territory for them to explore.

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