After seemingly falling apart following their third album Telesis in 2008, Dutch/Belgian deathsters Emeth have picked up the pieces and return with an almost entirely new lineup on Aethyr. Only founding guitarist Matías Dupont, the band’s lone original member, remains from the Telesis lineup. Three of the other four members were rounded up in 2012, with former Leng Tch’e frontman Boris “el Bastardo” Cornelissen – who guested on the Telesis track “Will To Power” – coming aboard last year.
The long layoff and turnover don’t seem to have held Emeth back much. The band make up for lost time by coming out with all guns blazing on Aethyr, and see-saw back and forth between groovy death/thrash bluster, tech-death flair and gut-punch brutality with abandon from there. The album does take an odd, industrial death-grind turn on “Wrath Upon the Cursed” toward the end, but things easily could have gone sideways more often here, given all the changes, so one misfire can be forgiven – if not applauded.
“I Became Flesh And Dwelleth Amongst Thee” and its follow-up “Exterminate The Vacillating” get Aethyr off to a rousing start with their full-throttle death metal acceleration tempered by a thrashy riffiness that actually makes them kinda catchy. Things get decidedly more technical – and downright progressive at times – on the title track and “Der Einsam Wandler,” which feature a whirlwind of spider-walking bass runs and guitar flash that keeps everyone’s fingers busy.
“Der Einsam Wandler” also introduces a brutal death metal breakdown where the tempo slows to a lurch and \”el Bastardo\” pukes up his vocals in thick, messy gobs. These come and go throughout – or, in the case of the album closer “Serpents Walk As If Human,” all the way through – recalling Cattle Decapitation or Benelux-area contemporaries Aborted. But they don’t really add much – other than occasional ugliness – and indeed sometimes tarnish the luster of some otherwise superb, if not spectacular, performances.
Cornelissen’s commanding bark is harsh enough on its own without the emphatic upchucking, and his bandmates are much more viciously compelling when they keep things lean and mean or flip the switch and really go off. The muddled chug just tends to bog things down.
Still, overall, Aethyr is a worthwhile return effort for the band and should help build some momentum if this lineup – or a good portion of it – holds together for a next go-round, which is something that has proven elusive in the past. Maybe the fourth time will be the charm for Emeth.
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