Making the transition from a purely instrumental band to one with lead vocals in the arrangements can be a difficult adventure, even more so if you play progressive rock. New Jersey's Eternal Essence seems to have made the evolution with poise. For their fifth album, A Light in the Distance, Maria Vastano becomes the band's lead vocalist.
Vastano has pleasant melodic vocal style, smooth, sometimes ethereal, and sometimes soaring. A sing song expressing the depth of her skill is the closer Let Me Go. Of most importance, however, is that she compliments the music.
And the music of A Light in the Distance, turns mostly on melodic rock. Actually, when listening to the first several songs you might wonder if EE is still pursuing progressive rock, as the tunes temper towards AOR melodic rock. Then Riven arrives and you get the progressive rock side of the band. Yet even this arrangement isn't that overly technical. More representative of Eternal Essence's playful prog is the longest piece, A Tragic Subconscious, an eloquent and epic song.
Alternatively, there a true rock side to the band, found on Cool Gentle Rain, where Vastano is replaced by Blue Soul's James Hatem on lead vocals. Also, Eternal Essence does not entirely abandon their instrumental side. ... And Servitude invokes an audio atmosphere of ethereal mysteriousness. Next to Riven and A Tragic Subconscious, it's the best song here.
With their exploration into vocal arrangements, provided by a female lead, Eternal Essence's A Light in the Distance charts a new, promising, and entertaining course for this talented band. Easily recommended.
With their exploration into vocal arrangements, provided by a female lead, Eternal Essence's A Light in the Distance charts a new, promising, and entertaining course for this talented band.