Although they’ve been producing Hardstyle for a few years already, Ecstatic are only starting now to be known faces within the scene. They had a low key start through AVIO Records, and were later picked up by Dirty Workz, which gave them a reasonable boost that earned them great bookings, including Defqon.1. After amazing hits like Dead To Life and Rise Up, the duo decided it was time to show their value through an album.
The album starts with Prologue, which serves as an orchestral intro, containing spoken word vocals pertaining to the album’s main theme.
The second track connects perfectly with the intro, using the same vocals as before and smoothly transitioning to a “Psystyle” feel. The track progresses with very dreamy vocals and a jaw dropping melody. The climax has a big, punchy kick. No time is wasted between the two climaxes, at which point you’ll definitely feel your spine tingling!
The highlights on the third track are the spoken word vocals which challenge the listener regarding freedom of choice. Another interesting element that stands out is the breakdown made with harps and violins.
The fourth track starts with vocals from Krigarè, the American vocalist which is starting to be known within the scene and has collaborated with Ecstatic before on Dead To Life. The track has been released before, but features on the album as well. The vocals are definitely one of the most remarkable elements here. Another highlight is the second climax, which brings us a very interesting variation in the lead melody. The organ sounds backing the climax fill the track rather nicely, without overwhelming the lead melody.
The fifth track shares its title with the album and has vocals by the well known MC DL. It contrasts with the previous track as it has a more raw feeling to it, having screeches and vocals that contribute to this atmosphere. The lyrics have a simple message: “If you change the rules, you change the game!”.
On the sixth track we go really soft for the epic Sogma treatment of Ecstatic’s Underground, with the astonishing vocals from the original accompanied by an orchestral piano melody – which is expected given that Sogma is known for doing the cinematic intros and interludes you hear on some Hardstyle shows and festivals. Light drums, the heavenly vocals and piano melodies replaced the parts that make the original track Hardstyle, making this a candidate to be a part of something like a Defqon.1 endshow! The track ends with piano and violin backing the song’s vocalist.
We go back to having the pedal to the metal with Luallaby, the 7th track. Aggressive kicks and screeches fill the intro and lead to a part with echoed chorus vocals. Once again, one of the highlights here is the melody, which is simple but catchy.
Tombs of Immortality is a collaboration with the superstar duo Sub Zero Project and it starts straight away with distinctive vocals by a very deep voice. You can then perfectly see why collaborations like these make sense – Sub Zero Project’s unique kick combines perfectly with the punchy and bassy kicks Ecstatic usually employ, and you can see a bit of both throughout the track.
Pump Up The Volume is where Ecstatic went crazy to finish off the album! As the track title and vocal samples suggest – pump up the volume… However Ecstatic didn’t only pump the volume, they pumped everything! The BPM’s, the kicks, the leads and the bass. The screeches accompany the melody extremely well and provide that extra element that just fills the track, without overtaking it completely, making it overall a very nicely balanced track.
At the end, there’s one extra track, an acoustic version of Rise Up. In this version, the vocalist fills the speakers, without overwhelming the accompanying piano and violin. We’re then treated to a piano solo, which leads us to an outro that features the distinctive vocals and orchestral melodies.
Change The Game is a pretty good album overall. It does an nice job in being on a sweet spot between being aggressive and melodic, and showcases the best Ecstatic has to offer. However, excluding the Sub Zero Project collaboration and the finishing track, Ecstatic did not go too much outside the box. The Sogma Remix, as well as the extra acoustic track, are nicely positioned within the album and provide and interesting twist in both atmosphere and tempo.
- Illusion Of Control
- Tombs Of Immortality
- Change The Game