Album review by William Dibble
Australia. Land of kangaroos, the vast deserts of The Outback, the Sydney Opera House, and death metal. Aetherial is a melodic death metal band hailing from Melbourne. They released their debut album, The Still Waters of Oblivion, on November 10th of this year. Their new album clocks in at twelve tracks and forty-seven minutes.
The Still Waters of Oblivion opens with the track “The Penitent Man”. Opening with a brutally screamed line, “The penitent man shall pass no more,” this track launches from a slow intro right into a devastatingly heavy guitar and drum riff. One of the notable things right off the bat is the fact that the vocals are very easy to understand, something that is sometimes lost with bands that use screams. This is no problem for Aetherial, as you can easily discern the words in every line of the song. “The Penitent Man” is followed by the blistering “Obscurus”. Where the previous song had a plodding, deliberate feel to it, “Obscurus” is fast, frenetic, and lethal. Right from the first second, it takes you on a journey of killer riffs and lead guitars. “The Fallen Will Mark The Way” continues this pace. One of the things that is remarkable about the first few songs, including “The Insignificance of Us”, is that they maintain a distinct individual sound. The style between songs is consistent, yet you don’t feel like you are listening to the same song over and over.
“Back to the Earth” gives an initial impression is a much slower song. Featuring a clean guitar and singing intro, it catapults you straight into a blastbeat-centric death metal song. “One of the Departed” sounds extraordinarily similar to “Back to the Earth” in structure, but features short bursts of relatively clean guitar sound throughout. While they may share similarities, they are two distinct songs. The next track mostly serves as an interlude, marking the halfway point of the album, before “Perpetual Night” begins. “Perpetual Night” is a powerful, heavy track that lets us know that Aetherial has no intention of slacking off during the closing half of their album. “We Who Know the Tempest” is not as strong of an entry as the prior songs. While it is still a great song, the song begins to feel overly long and repetitive by the end. That being said, it is by no means a bad song.
“Spirit Against the Flesh” is a shorter song with similarities to punk and hardcore. Coming in at track nine on the album, it offers a sudden and surprising change of pace and tone while keeping with Aetherial’s honed death metal style. “Three Poisons” and “The Unavoidable Conclusion” offer a crushing finale to a very potent album, closing out on notes just as heavy, if not heavier than, the opening songs.
It is difficult to believe that The Still Waters of Oblivion is the debut album of a relatively new band on the international scene. Aetherial’s initial offering offers callbacks in style and composition to early-era Gojira and Arch Enemy, two titans in the melodic death metal scene. Fans of death metal will certainly enjoy this work. It is easy to point to technical reasons to enjoy the album, too. The instruments are clearly separate and listenable, and the vocals are crystal-clear. The composition of songs and album are expert, showing finesse beyond what even some seasoned bands do. Pick up The Still Waters of Oblivion today!