Released: 2015, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Anyone who heard previous EPs, Hell’s Divine Existence and Revalation Beast will already know that ETHEREAL do not sound very ethereal at all. They have more in common with the contorted guitar work of Gorgoroth or the blasting ferocity of Dark Funeral than the spiritual sounds of Summoning. And it’s been an exciting past couple of years for this five-piece, with line-up changes flying in from all angles, most notably the addition of Naut as vocalist, and their increased presence on the support-slot scene; these scousers having found themselves sharing the stage with 1349, Belphegor, and most recently Marduk.
With a kind of satanic dystopian aesthetic comes the rousing, orchestral tease of “Nomicon”, before all is unleashed into a flurry of compressed guitars and manic orchestration. There is brilliance in the symphonic discordance, whilst vocally Naut sounds infernally post-human. Although not inventive, Mordrath’s drumming is stable as he proves to be quick, tight and consistent. The sound of soloing is one that breaks typical genre convention, but this kind of disregard proves to be one of ETHEREAL’s best merits, as the melodic axe work glides over many of the tracks.
It isn’t hard to see why Candlelight Records chose “Unholy Ungodly” as the song most worthy of a video production. It is melodically flawless in a way previously unseen by the genre at this underground level. However, by track four this album feels like it needs some air to breathe, as the riffing and song writing skills sound suffocated by the indulgent orchestration and thick production. Nevertheless, “Devouring the Forsaken” has an irresistible, stride, swagger and charge, with animalistic chants punching through the speakers to drag all ears into combat.
This is an over-the-top affair, make no doubt about it. Vocally, Naut shines with his multiple layers and plenty of time behind the mic, showing that he really is on top of the BM game by boasting frazzling high screams and bellowing low growls. There’s still room for improvement however in the song writing, as laying down more top-notch ostinatos and being able to rely less heavily on the orchestration would do nothing but favours for future records. It may have taken thirteen years to put this LP out , but many will be eagerly anticipating the next arrival from ETHEREAL.
Review by Jarod Lawley.