Egor Lappo has wasted no time at all since the release of his debut album Way Without Light in 2018. Lappo is a guitar wizard hailing from Saint Petersburg, Russia who is continuing on a journey through all things prog with his second album Azimuth. As a new decade creeps around the corner, we find prog in an interesting state. The whole djent craze is finally (thankfully) dying off, and many of the prog metal titans of the 2000’s have shied away from their heavier roots. So what, if anything, does a release like Azimuth indicate for the future of prog?
The song lengths here are very manageable for a prog record. The only real long song on the album is the opening odyssey “Faded Morning Sun”, but Lappo is a skilled enough composer to keep all 10+ minutes engaging. Other than that, this album is a bit more straightforward and focused than his last release. “Indifferent Times” has some dancey, four-on-the-floor Ghost vibes, while the righteous “All You Do is Sway” sounds like a cross between Devin Townsend and Pink Floyd. Both songs feature fantastic guitar solos and memorable choruses.
The closer “Waste of Space” is the strongest track on the album. The song combines Devin Townsend’s penchant for Lydian dissonance with excellent guest vocals from Artem Sergeev, which sound like a dead ringer for Gojira’s Joe Duplantier. The song has an otherworldly feel, which is aided by this trance-like, earworm of a guitar (or synth?) melody. The song ends with Lappo’s eerie guitar leads ringing out in the distance, a bold but great choice for an album filled with mostly major key songs. The song “Magnify” is pretty damn cool too. The little variations within verses are brilliant, as are the layers of vocal harmony in the choruses. The best part, however, is the solo section. The solo starts with a successful key change, and then weaves in and out of syncopated sections. The whole solo is a lot of fun – see for yourself! Besides the two songs mentioned above, Lappo shows of his compositional chops with not one, but two instrumentals: “Far From Noise” and “Aware”.
It’s also worth noting that the production on Azimuth is pretty solid. I have a few minor complaints here and there (not sure what is going on with the cymbals in the intro “All You Do is Sway”), but overall the production is very crisp, especially for an independent release. There’s a lot of life to this album, which is more than can be said for many modern prog albums.
The only downfall of this album is that there are certain spots where it’s obvious that Lappo is a guitarist first, singer second. This is most apparent on “In a Bind”. The song starts with a cool, 80’s Rush-like intro, but isn’t memorable otherwise due to a very “meh” vocal performance. There are also a few sections on “Faded Morning Sun” where the vocals are a bit too nasally. However, Lappo delivers strong vocal performances on the catchiest songs (“Indifferent Times” and “Magnify”), where it matters most.
So does this record indicate anything for the future of prog? Maybe not – there’s nothing new here for fans of the genre, but it does a great job of reflecting on its influences without blatantly ripping any of them off. However, if the future of prog is a combination of strong composition skills and reasonable song lengths, like Egor Lappo has done here, then I am all for it!
Egor Lappo can be found on:
Best Tracks: Waste of Space, Magnify, Indifferent Times, Aware
Weakest Tracks: In a Bind
FFO: Devin Townsend, Opeth, Ghost
Overall Score: B+