When I went to see the film Jonah Hex in the cinema I was astonished by two things. One, how it was possible to take such a good character and make such an utter balls-up of a film. Seriously, all they had to do was adapt the graphic novel Riders of the Worm and Such by the great Joe R Lansdale and Timothy Truman, and they would have had a superb film, I wonder—does a version of it exist in an alternative Earth somewhere, one directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell? And two, how amazing Mastodon’s music sounded without vocals including the music Mastodon recorded for an earlier version of the film. I really wish Warner would release a proper soundtrack album (the EP is brilliant but too short). I mean with all the Mastodon fans out there, Warner would make more money from a proper soundtrack release than was made from the film.
So, in contrast, it is a pleasure to review Pyramids On Mars’ Echo Cosmic, which brings back happy memories of the great Tom Baker Doctor Who tale ‘Pyramids of Mars’. Quite the most uplifting instrumental album you can possibly imagine, harkening back to the days when metal was a positive uplifting experience, yet with eyes faced firmly on the future.
Amazingly, Pyramids On Mars is the brainchild of just one man, a certain Kevin Estrella, who handles all instruments and drum programming. He truly is a virtuoso, however, unlike most virtuosos, he can write songs and play with feeling. His peers are the likes of Joe Satriani, Stevie Vai, Ritchie Blackmoor, Jimmy Page, and Randy Rhodes. Note that I said peers; he stands well on his own feet.
As you listen to Echo Cosmic it is like taking a trip through Kevin’s own myriad musical tastes. For instance, the splendidly named ‘Occam’s Razor,’ the best Megadeth track Megadeth didn’t write. (Incidentally, Occam’s Razor is named after a problem-solving principle created by one William of Ockham in the 14th century. The principle states that among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.)
‘Heaven’s Gate’ is inspired Iron by Maiden, a band who have made their progressive leaning well known since reuniting with Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith. The song really has that Steve Harris bass.
The title track ‘Echo Cosmic’ is superb, showing Pyramids On Mars’ own identity, and taking the listener on a fabulous musical trip.
I truly hope as many people hear this extraordinary album as possible—it truly is brilliant and deserves the widest possible audience.
Check back soon for Steve Earles’ conversation with Kevin Estrella of Pyramids on Mars.